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Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye

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


Related threads:
(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)
When Johnnie comes marching home (14)
(origins) Origin: Johnny I hardly knew ya (34)
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)


GUEST,JTT 25 Jun 08 - 06:51 PM
DebC 25 Jun 08 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jun 08 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,NYMusicLover 25 Jun 08 - 10:17 PM
Dave Hanson 26 Jun 08 - 03:10 AM
MartinRyan 26 Jun 08 - 03:19 AM
GUEST,JTT 26 Jun 08 - 03:24 AM
Dave Hanson 26 Jun 08 - 06:38 AM
GUEST,JTT 26 Jun 08 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Lighter 26 Jun 08 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 26 Jun 08 - 01:30 PM
dick greenhaus 26 Jun 08 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 26 Jun 08 - 05:23 PM
Rumncoke 26 Jun 08 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,NYMusicLover 26 Jun 08 - 05:55 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Jun 08 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,BrenKen 26 Jun 08 - 06:17 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Jun 08 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Dave MacKenzie 26 Jun 08 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Jun 08 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jul 11 - 02:30 PM
dick greenhaus 22 Jul 11 - 04:22 PM
meself 22 Jul 11 - 06:11 PM
Joe Offer 22 Jul 11 - 08:43 PM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jul 11 - 09:47 PM
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Subject: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 06:51 PM

Heard a new version of Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye tonight on RTE Lyric FM's The Blue of the Night.

By Karan Casey, from Ships in the Forest, it's kind of soft-edged. Instead of the version I learned, which went, mockingly:

"With your drums and guns and guns and drums, huroo, huroo"

it has

"With your guns and drums and guns and drums, huroo, huroo"

which doesn't have the same battering sneer to it.

And "You'll have to *put out a bowl to beg*" replaces the devastating:

"You're an armless, boneless, chickenless egg
You'll have to be put *in* a bowl to beg"

describing the only way that the blind, armless, legless husband who left as a handsome young dancer can now earn his living, after what the chain ball has done to him.

Her voice, though, is beautiful, and she has beautiful melodic control.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: DebC
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 07:49 PM

Here's a version for you. We thought we were so clever, but I guess others have done this as well.

Fighting for Strangers/Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye recorded in 1988, I'm singing lead.

Careful...if you have dial-up you will probably not want to click. I also apologise for the poor sound quality. This was recorded before we knew what digital meant (and was)

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 07:58 PM

The "boneless chicken" version is the responsibility, I fear, of the Clancy Bros. & Tommy Makem. Earlier versions have the more credible "*noseless,* chickenless egg."

Likewise the unlikely "put in a bowl to beg" used to be the realistic "put *with* a bowl."


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,NYMusicLover
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 10:17 PM

I think the original lyrics said "ye'll have to be put to the bowl to beg" The Chad Mitchell Trio did it blended with "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and I believe they said "You'll have to be put with a bowl to beg"...I never did hear the version you're talking about...probly a good thing too! lol


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 03:10 AM

' Put in a bowl to beg ' is correct, the only way someone with no legs could be mobile [ then ] hence references to ' Billy the Bowl ' in other songs, a Dublin charachter who begged people for help and when the bent over to help him he attacked and robbed them.

eric


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 03:19 AM

Lighter

Sparling (late !9C.) has "eyeless, noseless" but also "IN a bowl to beg". I'm with Eric on this.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 03:24 AM

Yes indeed, a blind man with no arms and legs would be put in a wooden bowl so that the pitying passers-by would leave him money.

The Clancys did not necessarily invent amendations - they were song collectors, and would have used versions they heard from other traditional singers heard at sessions around the country.

To me, this horrifying description is a much more vivid anti-war statement. The beguiling dancing boy who goes off, thrilled, to follow the guns and drums - to the Napoleonic wars, to join the United Irishmen, to the Great War or to Japan or Vietnam or Iraq or Chechnya - and comes back with his arms and legs torn away, blinded by grapeshot or cluster bombs, genetically damaged by irradiated armour-piercing shells - all he's now good for is to sit by the road inspiring disgust and pity.

And for the vigorous young woman who sings so bitterly, all this castration of arms and legs and eyes is also symbolic of another castration that's not mentioned...

Perhaps the song could be secretly beamed into all recruiting stations everywhere, at a subliminal level.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 06:38 AM

In versions of the song I've heard but can't remember by whom, the last verse is uplifting,

I'm happy for to see you home,
Huroo, huroo
I'm happy for to see you home ,
All from the Island of Sulloon,
So low in the flesh, so high in the bone,
Johnny I hardly knew you.

With their guns and drums, and drums and guns,
The enemy NEVER slew you


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 10:08 AM

Hm, uplifting if you don't mind him having lost arms and legs and eyes, eh?


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 10:40 AM

I believe the Clancys were also responsible for "NEVER slew ye."

While they didn't alter their songs nearly as much as some other groups, like the Irish Rovers, who extensively rewrote traditional material, the Clancys certainly changed words now and then either to "improve" the lyrics or to establish a basis for copyright. One ex. that comes to mind is the line, "The sun is on the harbor, love," in "Farewell to Liverpool."


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 01:30 PM

For JTT:

I heard this version, or one very nearly like it, in 1959. A fellow named Jon Adams, then a student at Fresno State (California), was the nominal leader of a group of young guitar and banjo toting folks who hung around and played at a local coffee house, The Renaissance. When I first heard it, I was very struck by the song and by his delivery of it. Since, I have heard it so many times, by so many performers - many guilty of egregious sentimentality - that it almost falls on deaf ears now. The more up tempo "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," its American derivative, is much less heard, ironically.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 01:48 PM

Do you have any evidence that "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" precedes "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"? I haven't, and I've looked.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 05:23 PM

I have only heard anecdotal evidence, nothing conclusive. The only evidence that I can really present is one of timing and of eerily similar melodies. Logically, the Irish conscripts were fighting in British wars for many years prior to our Civil War, which has ties to "Johnny Comes Marching Home." Most of those with whom I have spoken on this song's origins cite those as primary reasons for the assumption. The discussion could certainly use some more academic scrutiny.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: Rumncoke
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 05:47 PM

I always thought it meant that he'd lost an arm, a leg and an eye not both of all of them.

The version I know starts with the man 'going the road to sweet Athay' which would be hard enough with only one good leg, but not really possible without any.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,NYMusicLover
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 05:55 PM

The only thing I'd ever heard saying that one outdates the other has come from The Chad Mitchell Trio when introducing the song.

It does, however make sense that Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye came first, as so many of our American songs were based off of older songs from other countries. Plus, it's Irish folk, which often pre-dates anything here...


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 06:00 PM

Okay, Dick, this may shed some light but isn't intended to be conclusive. Hamm (p250) states '...the many instances of direct borrowings do not convey the impact of Anglo-Celtic oral-tradition melody on Civil war song. One need look no further than 'WJCMH'. Patrick Gilmore claimed authorship in the first edition, (Pub. Boston by Hy Tolman in 1863) and no scholar has yet found a specific model for the melody, though it has all the stylistic earmarks of a traditional tune.'

About 5 years ago I came across the original? sheet music to JIHKY in a book shop in London. Unfortunately they wanted about £30 for it. I had the presence of mind to note down that it was written and composed by the ubiquitous J B Geoghegan, sung by Harry Liston and published by Metzler. Geoghegan, originally from Lancashire but I think spent most of his life in Sheffield, was writing his many famous songs (still sung today) c1850-60. In my experience of his other material, which was occasionally parodied, he was the originator and didn't plagiarise others works or tunes. He wrote 'Hey John Barleycorn, Down in a Coalmine, The Fox and the Hare, Pat works on the Railway, Roger Ruff or a Drop of Good Beer, Ten Thousand Miles Away etc. etc. Like Harry Clifton's songs a lot of it was pirated in the States by the likes of Tony Pastor and passed off as their own.

SteveG


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,BrenKen
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 06:17 PM

I heard a last verse somewhere that goes

They're rolling out the guns again hurro hurro
They're rolling out the guns again hurro hurro
They're rolling out the guns again
But they never will take our sons again
Oh they never will take our sons again
Johnny I'm swearing to ye

Does anyone know where this came from?


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 06:47 PM

For more on the relationship between When Johnny Comes Marching Home and Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye, see the recent discussion

Johnny I hardly knew ya (sic).

It was inconclusive, as it appears that Geoghegan's song wasn't originally set to the WJCMH tune (which weakens my case that it was directly inspired by the American song, though it doesn't disprove it), but there's no reason at the moment to think that JIHKY wasn't originally written by Geoghegan.

The WJCMH melody is basically a variant of the Scottish 'John Anderson My Jo', which itself seems to derive from the earlier (English) tune 'I Am the Duke of Norfolk' (see Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 331-335 and 394-395). If there is also an Irish connection, no verifiable trace of it seems to have survived.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 07:24 PM

I saw BrenKen's last verse in a songbook, possibly "The Folksinger's Song Bag" in the sixties. I don't remember it quoting any sources, but it was a long time ago.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 11:05 AM

BrenKen, I've read that Les Pine wrote it and Martha Schlamme recorded it ca1950.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 02:30 PM

If there's a liner note to this song from Martha Schlamme's album "Folk Songs of Many Lands" could someone post it?

And if so, is she the writer of the note, or is it someone else like Ken Goldstein?


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 04:22 PM

The tune is a rhythmic re-setting of John Andrson, MY Jo


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: meself
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:11 PM

I believe The Ants Go Marching One-By-One is the original.


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 08:43 PM

Oh, Lighter, I wish Vanguard would reissue Martha Schlamme's Folk Songs of Many Lands.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 09:47 PM

Thanks, Dick!

Joe, my research suggests that Martha Schlamme was the first singer to record this song. She was certainly the first to include the "never take our sons again" stanza, which was written about 1950 by Les Pine. (Much of this info came from other people on another thread.)

There may have been an earlier recording based on Herbert Hughes's 1935 arrangement, but, if so, I haven't found a reference to it. There was an even earlier sheet-music arrangement by Charlotte Milligan Fox in 1915.


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