John Barleycorn

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Roud No. 164

Recording by Fred Jordan on ‘A Shropshire Lad’ Veteran VTD148CD

Reference: Schofield D (2007) John Barleycorn: as sung by Fred Jordan Magazine of the English Folk Dance and Song Society Spring 2007 p9.

Now, there came three men out of Kent my boys

For to plough for wheat and rye

And they made a vow and a solemn vow

John Barleycorn must die.

So, they ploughed him deep in the furrow

And they sowed rye o’er his head

And these three men home rejoicing went,

John Barleycorn was dead.

But, the sun shone warm and the wind blew soft

And it rained in a day or so

John Barleycorn felt the wind and the rain

And soon began to grow

But the rye began to grow as well;

The rye grew slow but tall

But John Barleycorn he grew short and quick

And he proved them liars all

So, they hired men with sickles

To cut him off at the knee

And worst of all, John Barleycorn,

They served him barbarously.

For, they hired men with pikels,

To toss him on to a load,

And when they’d tossed John Barleycorn

They tied him down with cords.

Then, they hired men with thrashels

To beat him high and low

They came smick smack upon poor Jack's back

Till the flesh began to flow.

Then, they put him in to the kiln me boys,

Thinking to dry his bones

And when he came out, John Barleycorn,

They crushed him between two stones.

Then, they put him in to the mashing tub,

Thinking to burn his tail,

And when he came out they’d changed his name,

For they called him home-brewed ale.

So, put your wine in glasses,

Your cider in pewter cans

Put John Barleycorn in the old brown jug,

For he proved the strongest man.

To my ri-fol-airy, fol-the-diddle ay

To my ri-fol-airey oh

To my ri-fol-airy, fol-the-diddle ay

To my ri-fol-airey oh