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Origin: Johnny I hardly knew ya

DigiTrad:
FIGHTING FOR STRANGERS
JOHNNY I HARDLY KNEW YE
JOHNNY I HARDLY KNEW YOU (2)
WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME


Related threads:
When Johnnie comes marching home (20)
(origins) Origins: Ants Go Marching... (27)
Lyr Req: As Gaeilge: Johnny I hardly Knew you? (7)
New Book-'The Greatest Anti-War Song Ever Written' (19)
Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye (25)
Lyr Req: Johnnie We Hardly Knew Ye (22)
Lyr Req: Johnny Comes Marching Home (24)
Parody Challenge: The Aunts Go Marching (9)
(origins) Origins: Do we hardly know ye, marching, Johnny?? (2)
Lyr Add: When Johnny comes Hobbling Home (5)
Tune Req: johny comes marching home (whistle (4)
Lyr Req: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye (4)


olddude 20 May 08 - 08:32 PM
olddude 20 May 08 - 09:10 PM
Jack Campin 20 May 08 - 09:13 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 21 May 08 - 12:23 AM
olddude 21 May 08 - 07:55 AM
Jack Campin 21 May 08 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,Q as guest 21 May 08 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Volgadon 21 May 08 - 01:15 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 May 08 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 21 May 08 - 05:45 PM
Jack Campin 21 May 08 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 21 May 08 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,Lighter 21 May 08 - 09:16 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 21 May 08 - 09:36 PM
Abby Sale 21 May 08 - 11:02 PM
GUEST,Volgadon 22 May 08 - 01:45 AM
MartinRyan 22 May 08 - 06:01 AM
Jack Campin 22 May 08 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Lighter 22 May 08 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 22 May 08 - 04:03 PM
MartinRyan 22 May 08 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,Lighter 22 May 08 - 06:22 PM
olddude 22 May 08 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,Lighter 23 May 08 - 12:04 AM
GUEST,meself 23 May 08 - 02:31 AM
MartinRyan 23 May 08 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 23 May 08 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 24 May 08 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Lighter 24 May 08 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Jul 08 - 11:38 AM
dick greenhaus 08 Jul 08 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jul 08 - 02:13 PM
dick greenhaus 08 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Jul 08 - 05:47 PM
False Lankum 09 Oct 20 - 04:38 AM
Mrrzy 09 Oct 20 - 01:12 PM
meself 09 Oct 20 - 01:48 PM
RunrigFan 09 Oct 20 - 02:09 PM
Lighter 09 Oct 20 - 09:35 PM
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Subject: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: olddude
Date: 20 May 08 - 08:32 PM

Does anyone know the origin of this song. I know they changed it to when Johnny comes marching home during the civil war (american). But I know it is an old old Irish tune from way back Anyone know the origins of it or how far back it goes, is it associated with a conflict. Is it Irish or originally scottish?

I wanted to research it
for a civil war class my wife is teaching

Thank you kindly
Dan


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: olddude
Date: 20 May 08 - 09:10 PM

thank you for the refresh
didn't see that, I need to look at the archives first
thanks again


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 May 08 - 09:13 PM

The tune is a rhythmic variant of "John Anderson my Jo", which is a Scottish tune from the 17th century, very well known all over the English-speaking world by the time the "Johnny" songs were written.

We've been over this before and it seems not to be clear whether "Johnny came marching home" or "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" came first - at any rate there are only a few years between them, in the 1860s. The phrase "island of Sulloon" in the song isn't a lot of help, as none of the wars in Ceylon seems to fit - there can't have been many Irish soldiers, if any, involved in repressing the Matale Rebellion of 1848, and the Uva Revolt of 1818 was too far in the past. The Crimea would have been the obvious war for the song to be about, but none of its placenames match.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 21 May 08 - 12:23 AM

Irish soldiers in Ceylon: The Royal Irish were there in 1835, I don't know when they first were there. In 1835, six companies were sent to China.
The number of Royal Irish troops was large in Ceylon in 1837, when they sailed for Madras. From there they went to China, where they played a prominent part in the First Chinese War of 1840-1842. From there, they returned to India. Sent back to China, they fought around Canton in 1847. Again returning to India*, the Regiment served in the Burmese War of 1851-52. In 1854, they joined the army in the Crimea, and were prominent at the siege of Sevastapol. By 1857, they were back in India, and served there until 1866. *I don't know if 'India' includes Ceylon, I haven't delved deeply enough to get details of where they were actually stationed.
Notes above are from the website of www.waterfordcountymuseum.org.

The Ceylon Rifles seemingly had some Irish members, but I have not looked into their records.
Several genealogical notes are from people seeking information about members of the Irish Regiment and their service in Ceylon.

Was any other place than "Sulloon" mentioned in versions of the song? If not, the fighting of the song could have taken place in India, China, and Crimea; Ceylon just where they were stationed before sailing to Madras in 1837, or perhaps stationed after service elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: olddude
Date: 21 May 08 - 07:55 AM

Thank you so much


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 08 - 08:28 AM

When you write a broadside song like this, you try to be understood by the audience of your own time and place. So Athy and Sulloon had to have been in the public mind. Hopefully there will be newspaper stories that reflect that. Time to rummage through Dublin newspaper archives?


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 21 May 08 - 12:52 PM

Athy, of course, is the market town in County Kildare. The song is about the soldier's return to Athy, (Wexford in another version), minus a few of his parts.

Ceylon was where the Royal Irish were stationed before being sent for service elsewhere; I don't see that 'Sulloon' would have to refer to anything specific.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 21 May 08 - 01:15 PM

Well, a substantial number of the HEIC's troops were Irish. Come to think of it, the same goes for most British regiments.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 May 08 - 03:43 PM

The British Library has a song sheet by the music hall performer Joseph B Geoghegan, printed c.1867 and titled 'Johnny I Hardly Know You' (H.1772.k.(23.)). It begins 'While on the road...'. I haven't seen it, but James Fuld (The Book of World-famous Music, 2000, 640) indicates that the music is not the (now) familiar 'Johnny Comes Marching Home', which seems first to appear in print with the song in Hughes, Irish Country Songs, III, 1935, 38.

There are three broadside editions at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. None can be dated precisely, but there seems no special reason to think that they predate the Geoghegan sheet. The first line differs in some particulars of wording, and the sheet without imprint differs in content from the other two. Another text, reproduced in Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy, 1888, 491-3, is also considerably variant.

Whether the variations in content are down to oral circulation or the inventiveness of broadside publishers is, as usual, hard to tell. The Geoghegan set appears to be the earliest with a firm date (it was deposited at the British Museum in February 1867, so may have been printed the previous year), but whether he merely re-wrote an earlier form or whether it was his own parody of 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' ( a fairly new song at that time, having been copyrighted in America in 1863; several editions of the period can be seen at the Levy Collection) we don't yet know. Either could be the case. Geoghegan was a Lancashire man, incidentally, though presumably he did have Irish antecedents.

My own feeling is that the 'Irish' song, whoever wrote it, began as a parody of the American one; but further evidence may well disprove that.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 21 May 08 - 05:45 PM

A couple of versions (at least one at the Bodleian) have no mention of Ceylon (in whatever spelling).
"inventiveness of broadside publishers"- the insertion of a place name may be just that.
In any case, there is no reason to associate the song with any particular campaign.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 08 - 05:49 PM

If "Johnny I Hardly Knew You" started out with different music from "When Johnny Came Marching Home" at around the same time, neither could be a parody of the other, surely?

It wouldn't be the first time a song was attached to another tune long after the words and both tunes were written. If the attacher spots a good enough match it can be hard to imagine it ever having been different. "The Lords of Convention" is an example - it *was* meant to go to "Bonny Dundee", but not the "Bonny Dundee" most people think of these days.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 08 - 06:27 PM

The Glasgow Poets Box also printed a broadside version of JIHKY in 1867 so it begins to look like it originated then or just before. Brereton of Dublin also printed it and his dates are usually given as c1860. Such of London, Pearson of Manchester and Sanderson of Edinburgh also printed it but these were all printing well into the late 19thc. It wouldn't surprise me to find that Geoghegan wrote it. Some of his songs are still sung in folk clubs today. The Capital Ship, Hey John Barleycorn, Glossop Road. Though born in Lancs as Malcolm says, like Malcolm he must have lived in Sheffield for a long time.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 21 May 08 - 09:16 PM

A Forum search shows more threads discussing this song than I can review easily.

The central facts of the matter, however, appear to be as follows:

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" was copyrighted by Union Army bandmaster Patrick Gilmore (using the pseudonym "Louis Lambert")in 1862 or '63. It became popular instantly. Gilmore, however, claimed credit only for the upbeat, celebratory lyrics; he claimed, somewhat enigmatically, that he had heard the tune hummed by an African-American youngster in New Orleans. There has been much conjecture about what tune Gilmore may have heard.

As Malcolm reminds us, sheet music of "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye," with words and music credited to James B. Geoghegan, were published in London a few years later, ca1867. I've seen a copy of this publication, and while the lyrics are the familiar "JIHKY" words, the tune is clearly not Gilmore's or anything much related to it.

There is absolutely no reason to assume that the (tuneless) broadsides of "JIHKY" are any older than Geoghegan's song.

In his discussion of the song, written many years later, Herbert Hughes claimed to have remembered the song from about 1867. He'd thought it was a new song until "an old fisherman" told him at some point, as an aside, that it was much older. The fisherman's claim is the only evidence at all for thinking "JIHKY" to have preceded Gilmore's "Johnny."

And I believe that's all anybody knows about the relationship between the two songs. Any number of conjectures about "lost originals" are possible but go nowhere. The preponderance of evidence points to Gilmore's song as the original and Geoghegan's as the parody.

The likely equivalency of "Sulloon" (or "Siloam") with "Ceylon," and the fact that Irish troops were stationed there before the American Civil War of 1861-65, do not together prove that "JIHKY"
predates the publication of "WJCMHA." The only thing that would do that would be a pre-Civil War appearance of "JIHKY."

Nobody has unearthed one, or even a first-hand recollection of one.
Hughes's anecdote pushing the song back to the early 19th Century remains hearsay unsupported by any other testimony.

"JIHKY" has been recorded so frequently since the '50s that I've met people who mistakenly think that *its* title is "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again," having never heard Gilmore's lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 21 May 08 - 09:36 PM

As Lighter says, there is no evidence that "Sulloon" (and var.) would indicate pre-Civil War age. As I stated, the Royal Irish were there until 1866; other units with Irish soldiers certainly were in the Raj and Ceylon until those regions became independent in the 20th c. Moreover, units with a base there were sent into other theatres of operation, and then returned.
There is little room for speculation, since no specific actions are mentioned in the song.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Abby Sale
Date: 21 May 08 - 11:02 PM

Two small things:

Per Lift Every Voice "The Second People's Song Book", the common last verse of JIHKY ("They're rolling out the guns again") was written c.1950 by Les Pine - apparently a black screen writer who died July 2001. -
per AMG - Birth 1917 - Los Angeles, CA - Death Aug 11, 2001 (prostate cancer)

Apparently in Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as Young Man:
What do a pants leg and [County] Kildare have in common?
They both have a thigh in them.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 22 May 08 - 01:45 AM

Sulloon might have been used because it scans better than India and still sounds exotic.

"If "Johnny I Hardly Knew You" started out with different music from "When Johnny Came Marching Home" at around the same time, neither could be a parody of the other, surely?"

The tune is irellevant, the words are the important thing.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:01 AM

Lighter

The "fisherman" tale attributed to Herbert Hughes sounds like a precis of a note in Sparling's Irish Minstrelsy mentioned by Malcolm Douglas earlier in the thread. In the 1888 second edition he writes:

----------------------
This favourite old song is here for the first time given complete. It dates from the beginning of the present century, when Irish regiments were so extensively raised for the East India Service. Because in one late version "Why did you run from me and the child" is made "why did you skedaddle.." and this word only came into use during the War of Secession, some have imagined this song to be of recent date, and have even attributed it to the Irish-American music-halls! My own memory carries it back to very near the war, when I heard an old fisherman sing it, to whom it was even then old. It was he who told me of its age and meaning, what I have said above, which is corroborated by the reference to Ceylon. It is hard to believe seriously that any one can read this wonderful piece of grotesquerie, with its mingling of pathos and ribald mockery so closely allied to the spirit that produced " The Night before Larry was Stretched" and be unable to see either its value of its genuineness!".
______________________________________
The first edition (1887) only has the first two sentences of the above. This suggests he was challenged on the song's origins and marshalled the defence given.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:11 AM

The words aren't so close that you could identify one as a parody if you didn't know the tune.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 May 08 - 03:23 PM

Martin, how embarrassing. Indeed, the "Hughes" quotation I supplied -though quoted (and sourced) by Hughes - certainly did come from Sparling. I apologize and plead an imperfect memory plus the lateness of the hour.

I now have the Hughes book in front of me, and he makes two fundamental observations of his own on the subject:

"'Johnny, I hardly knew ye'...is a song I have remembered since I was a child [Hughes was born in 1882], sung in Ireland to the tune of 'Johnny comes marching home,' which tune has appeared in popular collections as 'old English.' When I first thought of putting it in this volume I discussed the song with my father, who is in his eighty-second year...and [with] others whose memories went back to the American Civil War, or a little after. Without being dogmatic, they agreed that it belonged to that period and came from the States, Sir Richard Terry remarking that it was probably in the repertory of the Christy Minstrels."

Does anyone know what "collections" Hughes was referring to?

No 19th Century American printed text of "JIHKY" is known - and the song seems never to have been reported by folksong collectors as having been sung in the U.S. One tends to believe, therefore, that Hughes's sources (or H. himself at some point) must have been confusing "JIHKY" with "WJCMHA." That would be easy to do since the American melody as well as Gilmore's lyrics are both known as "WJCMHA." But none of those sources indicated that either Gilmore's tune or the words to "JIHKY" dated back before the Civil War.

Hughes then discusses Geoghegan's song, which the sheet music rtells us was "sung with tremendous applause by harry Liston, the star comic." Hughes quotes the Geoghegan melody and asserts that it "recall[s]" the melody of Gilmore's song as though "the composer's memory was at fault." (I don't agree with this but my mind is open on the subject.) Hughes goes on to ask, "Is it too much to suppose" that JBG "considered that a good old ballad was anybody's property?"

Well, yes, it is too much. There remains no good or credible evidence that that "JIHKY" existed before ca1867, or that Gilmore simply attached his own lyrics to a familiar Irish melody that already carried words about "Johnny" more or less "marching home again."


Hughes's argument seems to be that the testimony of Sparling's old fisherman negates all the other evidence that "JIHKY" first appeared after, not before, the Civil War.

As for Gilmore's tune. It is often said that it was known before 1862-63 under the title "Johnny, Fill Up the Bowl" And those words are indeed recorded as appearing in American Civil War parodies of "WJCMHA." But despite the tune's appearance in O'Neill's "Music of Ireland" (1905, No. 468, p. 82), no one has discovered a pre-Civil War song of that name or, need it be said, even a reference to a melody of that name. (O'Neill also gives the title in Irish as "lion suas an cupana seanin"; he names all 1,850 of his tunes in both languages - and not one is "title unknown"!)

So we're back where we started. Except that Volgadon and Jack Campin are correct that "parody" may not be the ideal word for "JIHKY" in Geoghegan's form. How about "spoof" or "burlesque"? Certainly the structure of the stanzas (though not of the chorus) is that of Gilmore's song.

O'Neill made a few comments on Gilmore's tune in "Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody" (1922), p. 52. I'll post these later this p.m., along with Gilmore's testimony - just for the record.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 22 May 08 - 04:03 PM

Jonathan,
If spoof/burlesque/parody seem too strong, how about simple 'borrowing'. There was a heck of a lot of 'borrowing' went on in this period, particularly cross-Atlantic. Artists like Cowell and the minstrels were flitting back and forth. A lot of Harry Clifton's songs were stolen by Tony Pastor and set down as his own on the sheet music with no reference to Clifton (See Levy copies). Even up to WWII traditional tunes were being appropriated and claimed by pop song writers.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 May 08 - 05:05 PM

For now, my instinct is to take Sparling's comments at face value. He comes across as someone who knew the genre - and was familiar with both written and traditional sources.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:22 PM

Cazden, Haufrecht, and Studer's magisterial "Folk Songs of the Catskills" (1982) has some significant information on the songs in question (pp. 367-68).

First, they mention a previously unnoticed printing of the words (but not the music) to "WJCMH" in two songsters issued by R. F. Simpson in Philadelphia as early as 1861, about two years before Gilmore's formal arrangement of the song was published. The songsters indicate no melody and credit no lyricist or composer.

C, H, & S can not confirm James Fuld's assertion that the song "Johnny Fill up the Bowl" (or "For Bales") - with the Gilmore tune - was actually published a few months earlier than the first full-blown sheet-music of "WJCMH" in 1863. "JFUTB" appeared in New Orleans in 1864, credited to "Saul Sertrew."

There is too much in their discussion to summarize here, and not all of it is quite so interesting. A very important observation, though, which C, H, & S note without making the connection that we can make now, is that Gilmore's song was published in London "about 1865-66," as "sung by the Christy Minstrels and by Harry Liston."

This confirms Sir Richard Terry's connection of the Christy Minstrels with Gilmore's words and/or melody. Even more striking is that "Harry Liston" is the name of the comedian who alsd performed "JIHKY" to "thunderous applause," evidently to Geoghagen's tune. (Maybe he used both.) In any case, "JIHKY" does begin to look even more like a conscious black-humor parody, developed by Geoghegan, Liston, and a few street-ballad printers, of "WJCMH."

Clearly I'm less impressed than Martin is by Sparling's old fisherman.

Gilmore and O'Neill yet to come. Stay tuned.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: olddude
Date: 22 May 08 - 10:31 PM

absolutely wonderful discussion folks
thank you


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 23 May 08 - 12:04 AM

The anecdote about Gilmore in New Orleans comes from Irwin Silber's usually reliable Songs of the Civil War (1960). However, in a 1988 article in the journal "American Music," Frank C. Cipolla quotes Gilmore's words directly (from "The Musical Herald" of 1883):

"[The melody] was a musical waif which I happened to hear somebody humming in the early days of the rebellion, and taking a fancy to it, wrote it down, dressed it up, gave it a name, and rhymed it into usefulness for a special purpose suited to the times."

No mention of an African-American (or Irish) source here. Also, as Cipolla points out, Gilmore did not arrive in N.O. until January of 1864, long after "WJCMH" had appeared.

When Francis O'Neill printed the famous tune in "Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody" (1922), he preferred to call it "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" instead of "Johnny Fill Up the Bowl," as in 1903 (though O'Neill's 1903 index did list "JIHKY" as an alternative title). He confidently asserts that the "spirited air was almost forgotten in Ireland" until the Irish-born Gilmore's "master hand" revised it during the Civil War. Oddly, only the 1922 version has enough bars to fit the four-line chorus of Geoghegan's lyrics!


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 23 May 08 - 02:31 AM

Here's something that strikes me as curious; wondering if it rings any bells for anyone else:

When I was a little kid, back around the time these songs were written, we sang When Johnny Comes Marching Home in school, in Ontario. It had all the usual celebratory details - the ladies all turning out, etc. - however, it had a last verse presumably inspired by JIHKY, in which Johnny actually arrives home - and he's blind (and possibly crippled). Although I can't remember any of the words, I'm sure that verse was not simply lifted from JIHKY; it had none of the sardonic humour or bitterness, it was pure pathos, and terrible irony.

Since we sang it in school, I assume it was a widely-known version at some point, but I don't see it in the lyrics file or in the other related threads. And, of course, no mention of it on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 May 08 - 10:07 AM

I see that the Ballad Index agrees with Lighter's scepticism about Sparling's fisherman's tale. As I'm not an archivist, I can perhaps afford to indulge my instincts about a traditional rather than bibliographic trail!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 23 May 08 - 01:23 PM

And there weren't any doddering old fools of the ancient mariner type around in the 1860s?
Alright, that sounds a bit harsh, I mean, even if we take it at face value that an old man claimed it was old doesn't mean that the old man was right.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 24 May 08 - 05:32 AM

Here's the Ballad Index entry:
______________________________________________________

Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye

DESCRIPTION: The girl meets her Johnny returned from the wars. She can barely recognize him; he has lost arms, legs, and eyes. She tells him "With your drums and guns and guns and drum, the enemy nearly slew ye... O, Johnny, I hardly knew ye."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1886 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.10(218))
KEYWORDS: soldier disability injury war
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (10 citations):
PBB 94, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
Scott-BoA, pp. 329-330, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew You" (1 text, tune referenced)
Hodgart, p. 212, "Johnny, I hardly knew ye" (1 text)
O'Conor, pp. 92-93, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 388-389, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
Behan, #35, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Yeh" (1 text, 1 tune, modified)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1142, p. 78, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 reference)
Silber-FSWB, pp. 278-279, "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 271-274, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text plus excerpts from 3 parodies)
Charles Sullivan, ed., Ireland in Poetry, p. 90, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye (1 text)

Roud #3137
RECORDINGS:
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "Johnny I Hardly Knew You" (on IRClancyMakem02)
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, 2806 b.10(218), "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" ("While going the road to sweet Athy"), H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also 2806 c.8(265), Firth c.26(233), "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye"; Harding B 26(297), 2806 b.9(118)[some illegible words],"Johney I hardly knew ye"[inconsistent spelling throughout]
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (tune) and references there
cf. "The Wars of America" (plot)
NOTES: Scholars continue to argue whether "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" or the cheerful "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is the original. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," by Patrick S. Gilmore, can be firmly dated to the beginning of the Civil War, while "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" does not appear until slightly later (reportedly 1869, though the earliest date I've been able to verify is 1885).
There is also a very early print, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye," beginning "When on the road to Switarthy, ahoo! ahoo!," for which see Edwin Wolf 2nd, American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads, and Political Broadsides 1850-1870, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1963, p. 78. The date for this does not appear to be known.
For further details, see the entry on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
File: PBB094

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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 24 May 08 - 04:58 PM

Martin writes, "Insistence on written sources can be self-defeating in this context."

Nothing could be truer about the entire field of foklore, which in its "purest" form relies entirely on oral tradition rather than print.

As folklorists gradually discovered, however, the lore of industrial societies with a robust print culture (and later audio recording and transmission) increasingly flows from printed rather than oral tradition. (Not entirely, of course, but increasingly as time passes.)

Written sources can establish unimpeachable dates after which we know the cultural item existed. They give us solid reference points to make folklore study a "discipline" rather than just a hodgepodge of speculation.

Knowing "the earliest known date" also helps restrain baseless conjecture. If Item X appears in print in, say, 1885, it's entirely possible that it existed in 1884 or 1883. Rather less likely would be 1850, far less likely would be 1750. And any claim, without good evidence, that it existed in 1650, could be dismissed. (These dates are just examples in a simplified presentation. They're not magic or anything.)


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 11:38 AM

With your buns and guns and guns and buns:

http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Buns-and-Guns-restaurant-opens-Beirut/ss/events/lf/070108bunsgunsbeirut;_ylt=AoOPANE43fg.emueXye6fm4UewgF#photoViewer=/080701/ids_photos_ts/r1511763439.jpg

Apparently some people just can't get enough of that tasty war stuff -even in Beirut. *Their* civil war lasted fifteen years (1975-1990).


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 11:53 AM

Tangentially, one might note that "Johnny Fill Up the Bowl" is a real rarity--an American drinking song. Jeff Warner claims that it's the only one in the folk tradition here.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 02:13 PM

Roll out the barrels?
Fathom the bowl?
99 bottles of beer on the wall?
Are you from Function, from Function Junction?


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM

Roll out the Barrel is relatively recent Tin Pan Alley.
Fathom the Bowl is English.
99 Bottles really doen't have to do with drinkink.
Don't know Function Junction.

There are a few trad American drinking songs, but the number is infinitesimal compared to what the UK and Ireland can provide.


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Subject: RE: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Jul 08 - 05:47 PM

From Steven Cornelius, "Music of the Civil War Era" (2004), pp. 69-70. Missing link - or coincidence?:

"A San Francisco-based minstrel supplied the following chorus:

"And if they lost a leg the girls won't run,
For half a man is better than none,
And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: False Lankum
Date: 09 Oct 20 - 04:38 AM

So the song airs are no doubt connected, but does anybody else think that the central motif of John Anderson, My Jo i.e. that of a woman regarding the declining appearance of her lover as the years have gone by, might have any connection in terms of influence with JIHKY?

All the best,

Ian


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Mrrzy
Date: 09 Oct 20 - 01:12 PM

Not declining, changing. And I wondered that too.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: meself
Date: 09 Oct 20 - 01:48 PM

In my opinion, The Ants Go Marching well precedes both these copy-cat songs.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: RunrigFan
Date: 09 Oct 20 - 02:09 PM

https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/life-of-john-f-kennedy/fast-facts-john-f-kennedy/johnny-i-hardly-knew-ye-irish-folk-song


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny I hardly knew ya
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Oct 20 - 09:35 PM

The "declining appearance" motif never occurred to me.

I suppose there's no persuasive argument one way or the other, but as an unconscious influence on Geoghegan from Burns, it's certainly conceivable.


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