The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #52945   Message #812831
Posted By: Stewie
27-Oct-02 - 09:19 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Johnson Boys/Johnson Gals
Subject: RE: Origin Johnson Boys/Johnson Gals
I had a trawl around the archives of old-time music newsgroup and found this comment. Unfortunately, it is unsourced but nonetheless interesting and plausible:

What apparently happened here is that the "boys of honor" version was the original, up to the civil war. The song was popular with the Southern troops, so the Northern troops started to satirize it:

        Johnson boys, raised in the canebreak
        Never learned how to court a maid
        Turn their backs & hide their faces
        Sight of a pretty girl makes them afraid

etc. I've seen both versions in songbooks; the satire version is much
more fun to sing. [Sorry I can't cite a source for this info. I came
across it somewhere a few years ago when I was trying to find the funny words and could only seem to locate the straight versions]

terry friedman

Joe, the shanty seems to be unrelated.