->I learned from ''{{Achewood}}'' that since [[http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/stop.html this poem]] is in ballad meter, it can be sung to the tune of ''GilligansIsland''. Since then, [[EarWorm try as I might]], I haven't ONCE been able to read it normally.
-->--Webcomic/{{xkcd}}, "[[http://xkcd.com/788/ The Carriage]]"

The '''common meter''', or '''ballad meter''', is a poetic rhythm [[CaptainObvious which is, naturally, very common]]. For the metrically inclined, it consists of alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter (although, especially where hymns are concerned, "iambic" is not an absolute requirement). For those of us who only speak English, it consists of alternating lines of four and three stressed syllables. Abbreviated CM. There is also Common Meter Double (CMD), which is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.

It's used in a number of well-known songs and poems, and as a result, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE6q-e4sICs you can swap the lyrics and tunes around]], [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZqR_M20Y48 often to amusing effect]]. Some of the best One Song To The Tune Of Another rounds on ''Radio/ImSorryIHaventAClue'' have done this (others have deliberately chosen songs with completely different meters to make it more difficult).

Playing with common meter can have a variety of uses. Setting old lyrics to new music can revive a song and bring it back into popularity and use. On the other hand, this can also be done to mock an old song by setting it to a tune that's irreverent of the song's origins. Or it can be used as an affectionate parody of the old song.

Please note that this has ''nothing'' to do with songs that happen to be in the same tempo. For instance, it's a well-known and curious fact that Music/{{LMFAO}}'s "Party Rock Anthem" matches the ''StarWars'' Cantina theme [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=84WpcmJ28Yg in the middle]], as well as [[TheRoaringTwenties the Charleston]] (as seen [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj9_PKu9UzE here]].) But this trope is about ''lyrics'', which the Cantina theme and the Charleston don't really have. ("Party Rock Anthem"'s, amusingly, are in Inverted Common Meter, six beats followed by eight.) As such, this fact is cute trivia, but has nothing to do with this trope. Besides, songs being in the same tempo is a "Administrivia/PeopleSitOnChairs" thing.

Not to be confused with CommonTime. A tune can scan to CommonMeter, be in CommonTime, neither, or both.
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!!Examples
* "Amazing Grace"
* ''Series/GilligansIsland''
** Parts of [[Film/MaryPoppins "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"]] (the verses, but not the chorus) and "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" can be sung to ''GilligansIsland'' et alia.
* "The House of the Rising Sun"
** "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" has been sung to the tune of "The House of the Rising Sun".
*** You'll find that on one of Bob Rivers' Christmas albums.
** Gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama recorded a version of "[[AmazingFreakingGrace Amazing Grace]]" set to this tune. It works but some may find the MoodDissonance confusing.
*** "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" is another hymn that has been sung to this tune, and it is similarly jarring when this is done.
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/TheGreenHillsOfEarth''
* "America The Beautiful"
* "Semper Paratus", the marching song of the United States CoastGuard.
** It has been demonstrated—probably from a safe distance—to Marines that their hymn, "From the Halls of Montezuma", can be sung to the "GilligansIsland" theme.
** Many military [[http://youtu.be/jGKPwjtzl8E running cadences]] are in common meter.
* Many Christmas carols, such as "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night", "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen".
* "There Is a Green Hill Far Away"
* "Yankee Doodle"
* Lots of EmilyDickinson poems (e.g. "Because I Could Not Stop For Death")
** It has been pointed out that any EmilyDickinson poem can be sung to the tune "The Yellow Rose of Texas."
*** It gets a mention in a fifth-season ''Series/BabylonFive'' episode.
*** Probably a ShoutOut to Sharyn [=McCrumb=]'s (Literature/BimbosOfTheDeathSun), ''Zombies of the Gene Pool''. Where a Hillybilly Folk singer (with a PHD) mentions that he did exactly this to fool a visiting scholar.
* Most of ''Literature/TheRimeOfTheAncientMariner''.
* Also Richard Lovelace's ''To Althea, from Prison''. ("Stone walls do not a prison make / Nor iron bars a cage")
* [[Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway Hoedown!]]
** Also, the music from Irish Drinking Song.
* The Australian national anthem.
** As is ''Working Class Man''. Adam Hills once suggested that, to keep the anthem relevant, we keep the lyrics and sing them to the tune of Working Class Man. He then demonstrated. Awesomely.
* Infamous FilkSong "Banned from Argo"; it's been noted how many songs [[http://www.speakeasy.org/~mamandel/filks/ScansToArgo.html scan to it]].
* "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing", one of many Charles Wesley hymns.
* [[ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents "The Little Snicket Lad"]] can be sung to the tune of the GilligansIsland theme.
** This is especially funny given that the text explicitly notes that the song was mistakenly written to the tune of a well-known song about naval disaster. (aka "Row Row Row Your Boat")
* "The Yellow Rose of Texas"
** Also "The Yellow Rose", a country song by Johnny Lee and Lane Brody that swiped the melody from "The Yellow Rose of Texas".
* The writer of the webcomic EverydayHeroes likes to start new chapters with a bit of allegedly humorous verse, done in CommonMeter. Examples can be found [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/eddurd/everydayheroes/series.php?view=single&ID=83940 here]], [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/eddurd/everydayheroes/series.php?view=single&ID=103116 here]], [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/eddurd/everydayheroes/series.php?view=single&ID=158728 here]], and [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/eddurd/everydayheroes/series.php?view=single&ID=179899 here]].
* "[[BalladOfX The Ballad of]] [[TheBeverlyHillbillies Jed Clampett]]"
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4SDhrTPOiI Which Weird Al set to the tune of Money for Nothing by Dire Straits]]
* "Ghost Riders in the Sky" is common meter double.
* "Johnson's Motor Car"
* Parts of "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" fit this meter ("You've painted up your lips and rolled in curls your tinted hair/Ruby, are you contemplating going out somewhere?")
* Several Literature/ChildBallads, including:
** "Tam Lin"
** "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" as performed by Tim Erikson
** "Willie O Winsbury"
* "Knoxville Girl," an American MurderBallad
* The verses of "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" by TheArrogantWorms
* The verses of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZR8zdVVD4 "Sing For Me"]] by The Fiery Furnaces
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAp6z18gprU "Two Kinds Of People"]] by TheMagneticFields, albeit with an extra syllable on lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza.
* Much of [[BobDylan Bob Dylan's]] "My Back Pages" ([[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FUGzwUTN80 more famously]] CoveredUp by TheByrds) is in common meter.
* "Old Polina"
* "The Rising of the Moon"
* [[BawdySong "The Scotsman"]]
* "Tight Fittin' Jeans" by Music/ConwayTwitty
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' poem on the CosmicKeystone page of this very wiki.
* "Joy to the World" and many of Isaac Watts' other psalm [[{{Woolseyism}} "translations"]].
* The ''Pokemon'' theme. (Season one.)
* OlderThanSteam: The Scottish Psalter of 1650 sets the [[Literature/TheBible biblical Psalms]] to Common Metre.[[note]]This was the point of it; since hymns were forbidden in the Calvinist tradition held by the Prebyterian Church (the Church of Scotland, at the time), only scriptural references and paraphrases could be sung. The natural target was therefore the Psalms, already intended as congregational songs; however, the songs were written originally in anceint Hebrew and were translated (roughly) into non-metrical English in the King James Bible of 1610 (as well as a few other editions of the 16th century) which worked fine for the English, who could sing their psalms in Anglican Chant or Plainchant - but the practice of chanting was consider too much of a Catholic holdover by the Scots.[[/note]] It's [[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/anonymous/scotpsalter.psalter.html here]]. While the Scottish Psalter didn't ''invent'' Common Metre, it is the reason that it's considered "Common" -- 149 of the 150 psalms (including Psalm 119, in 22 separate parts) are written in Common Metre.[[note]]Many psalms have two versions, one in Common Metre and one in another; Psalm 136 has two versions, and neither is in Common Metre -- it is the ''only'' exception in the entire 1650 Scottish Psalter.[[/note]] Poor scansion and PainfulRhyme are the natural result in many cases. The Psalter also had a wide variety of Common Metre tunes which could be used with any of the psalms; standard publishing practice for this and other metrical psalters, even today, is to divide the book in half horizontally, essentially binding two separate books together, the upper with music and the lower with the words.
* The verses of "The Mummers Dance" by [=Loreena McKennitt=].
* "Oh Susanna"
* All of the Sorting Hat's songs in Harry Potter.
* "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". Possibly one of the more amusing tunes to sing "Amazing Grace" to. (For maximum effectiveness, at the "wimoweh" parts, say "amazing grace" instead.)
* "I Just Can't Wait to be King" from the Lion King.
* "The Rains of Castamere" from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' is metered this way, with a couple of anapaestic substitutions.
* Music/EmilieAutumn's "The Ballad of Mushroom Down" from ''Your Sugar Sits Untouched''.
* The verses of "Rocky" by Dickey Lee are common meter double.
* "Beer Gut" by Music/DaYoopers is also common meter double.
* The Thunder Song from {{Film/Ted}}.
* "Queen of the Silver Dollar", written by Creator/ShelSilverstein and most famously recorded by Dave & Sugar, is in common meter double.
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