The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14888   Message #1623260
Posted By: GUEST,Nathaniel in South Carolina
08-Dec-05 - 07:38 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Meaning of John Barleycorn
Subject: RE: Meaning of John Barleycorn
There's a folk group from Thailand called Caravan (the V pronounced as a W), and they do a song called "Jit Pumisak" which uses different lyrics over Traffic's melody used in John Barleycorn.

Jit Pumisak was a leftist scholar and activist who was killed in 1965 by Thai soldiers after joining an armed struggle in the Northeast of Thailand. The lyrics are translated below:

He fell at the edge of the forest
His blood soaked the troubled land
A land impoverished and bleak.

On the day he came
Down from the mountains,
Under the giant eagle's shadow.
His killers were gleeful.
His death brought good fortune:
Promotion, four stars and many stripes.

As a shooting star falls,
So fell his life.
But how long can we expect to live?
Ten rich men
For each hundred thousand poor,
A shame between heaven and earth.
But his lot was cast
On the side of the poor,
Speaking out all he had seen.
Prison may hold his body,
But never his hopes,
Determined to struggle for justice

His path blocked and twisted
By traitorous rulers,
So many like him were destroyed.
In the year of 1965*
Dark clouds blocked the sky
With the spell of the giant eagle

He left home and village
For guerrilla life in the jungle,

A life of unending risks.
In May of 1966
Sun and shadow fled.
On a oxcart path he died.

This body, this body is Jit Pumisak
He died where town and jungle meet.
He died at the edge of the forest,
His red blood soaking into
The northeastern soil.
Its red color will last on and on.

He did not die in vain;
His name steadily grows.
The people still learn from his thoughts.
Jit Pumisak, thinker and writer,
Has become a candle
Giving light to humanity.

* 1965 = year Thai government declared it would "wipe out the communists within three years."

I don't think Caravan's cover of the Traffic song has much, if anything to do with the traditional John Barleycorn ballad, but I find the fact that they chose that song as a template to be fascinating in itself.

To hear the song, you can download a Real Audio version here:

Sorry for the length, hope someone else finds this interesting.