A ballad is a song that tells a story, and it can be dramatic, funny, or romantic. You can find ballads in a variety of musical styles, from country-western to rock n' roll.
The ballad is an old musical form. Ballads are often by anonymous composers, passed down from generation to generation. You may know “The Ballad of Jesse James," about the notorious bank robber, which dates from the 1880s and has been recorded by everybody from Woody Guthrie to Springsteen. A ballad can also be a slow, romantic song, the kind of thing crooners like Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby made famous. The word ballad comes from medieval French balade, a dancing song.