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Origins: Young Johnny (The Green Bed)

DigiTrad:
GREEN BED
JACKSON


Related thread:
(origins) Penguin: The Green Bed (10)


Joe Offer 27 Oct 05 - 11:44 PM
Joe Offer 27 Oct 05 - 11:50 PM
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Subject: ADD: My Johnny (The Green Bed)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 11:44 PM

I received the following request in an e-mail:

    The tune is a lilting minor one, in the basic three chord 4/4 time.

    My grandfather may have edited the words, but this is what I remember:
    Young Johnny 's been on land, Young Johnny 's been on shore.
    Young Johnny 's been to Ireland, where he has been before.
    What luck have you, Young Johnny, What luck had you had sea.
    Oh very well, says Johnny, Oh very well says he.


    The story in the song is that Johnny has asked for the hand of a pretty lass, but her father wants him to have money. When he comes back from Ireland...

    "Puts his hands into his pockets and pulls them, full of gold"

    But then Johnny says he doesn't want to marry the lass, after all, because her father is too hard to please.

    It's quite a stretch to remember, and the first line might be 'Young Johnny 's been to sea' instead of the way I remember Grampa singing it.
It seems pretty clear to me that the song is a version of "the Green Bed," which is in the Digital Tradition.

Here's a version from the Max Hunter Collection:

My Johnny
Cat. #1170 (MFH #508) - As sung by O.B. Campbell, Vinita, Oklahoma on August 9, 1971

VERSE 1
My Johnny's been on th sea
My Johnny's been on shore
My Johnny's been to Ireland
Where he has been before
Your welcome home, dear Johnny
Your welcome home, from sea
Last night my daughter, Polly
Was dreaming of thee

VERSE 2
What luck did you have John
Very bad indeed
I lost my ship an' cargo
Upon th raging sea
Your welcome home, dear Johnny
Your welcome home, from sea
Last night my daughter, Polly
Was dreaming of thee

VERSE 3
Go bring your daughter Polly
An' set 'er down by me
To drown th meancholy
And married we will be
My daughter Polly's absent
An' has been so today
An' if she war at home, John
She would not let you stay

VERSE 4
My daughter Pollys' very rich
N' you are very poor
An' if she was at home, John
She'd turn you out-of-doors
John looked very weary
An' hung down his head
An' called for a candle
To light 'im up to bed

VERSE 5
Th beds are full of strangers
An' have been so this week
An' now poor Johnny
Your lodging you must seek
John looked upon th people
An' looked upon them all
He looked upon th landlady
An' gave a reckoning call

VERSE 6
Twenty shillings of th new
An' thirty of the ole
John then drew out his both hands
Full of gold
With th sight of th money
Made the old lady rue
I hope my daughter Polly
Will soon return to you

VERSE 7
I hope you are joking
I hope you speak unjust
Without any exception
She loves John th best
Down came Miss Polly
With a smiling face
She gave John a sweet kiss
An' then a slight embrace
You're welcome home, dear Johnny
You're welcome home, from sea
Th great beds are empty
An' waiting for thee

VERSE 8
Before I'd be within our beds
I'd be within th street
For when I had no money
My lodging I might seek
But now I have money
I'll make th taverns roar
For a bottle of brandy
An' cider below

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Johnny the Sailor (Green Beds) [Laws K36]

DESCRIPTION: Johnny comes from sea and asks the innkeeper for a bed and the chance to see her daughter (Molly). Neither is granted. He reveals that his last trip made him rich; the innkeeper offers him all he asked. He ignores the offer; he will go where he is wanted
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1905 (Belden)
KEYWORDS: sea money courting greed landlord sailor
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South)) US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar) Ireland
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Laws K36, "Johnny the Sailor (Green Beds)"
Belden, pp. 160-162, "Green Beds" (2 texts plus reference to 1 more)
Randolph 53, "Johnny the Sailor" (3 texts plus 2 excerpts, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 70-72, "Johnny the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 53A)
Eddy 32, "The Green Bed" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering 24, "The Green Beds" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Warner 49, "Captain John" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownII 108, "Green Beds" (2 texts plus 2 excerpts and mention of 1 more)
Hudson 42, pp. 156-158, "Young Johnny" (1 text)
Brewster 31, "Young Johnny" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 430-431, "Jackson" (1 text, 1 tune)
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 48-49, "The Green Bed" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H779, p. 54, "The Sailor in the Alehouse" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHCox 124, "Young Johnny" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 142, "Jackson" (1 text)
DT 323, JACKBEDS* JACKBED2*

Roud #276
RECORDINGS:
Warde Ford, "Johnny" (AFS 4200 A1, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Wild Rover No More" (plot)
cf. "The Saucy Sailor (Jack and Jolly Tar II) [Laws K38]"
cf. "Snapoo" (plot)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Liverpool Landlady
Jack Tar
Notes: Laws's numeration of the ballad subfamily known as "Jackson" is confused. In Native American Balladry he lists it as an American song, with no known relatives, and numbers it as dH40. However, in British Broadsides, he lists it as a version of "Johnny the Sailor." The latter identification is clearly correct, even though Sandburg describes his text as a "survivor of the years of the War with Mexico." - RBW
File: LK36

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2005 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD Version: Young Johnny (The Green Bed)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 05 - 11:50 PM

One more version from The Max Hunter Collection:

Young Johnny
Cat. #1404 (MFH #508) - As sung by Mary Jo Davis, Fayetteville, Arkansas on July ?, 1953

VERSE 1
Young Johnny's been in Ireland
Young Johnny's been on sea
Young Johnny's now in Ireland
Where he has been before
So, welcome young Johnny
So, welcome --- --- ---

VERSE 2
What luck, what luck, young Johnny
What luck had you on sea
Bad luck, bad luck, said Johnny
Bad luck had I on sea
I lost my ship, my cargo too
Out on th raging sea
But bring down your daughter, Polly
And married we will be

VERSE 3
O, Johnny, she is absent
An' won't be here this day
And if she were here
I'm sure you could not stay
For she is very rich
And you are very poor
And if she were here
She would turn you from th door

VERSE 4
Young Johnny being sleepy
He hung down his head
And called for a candle
To light himself to bed
My beds are full of strangers
An' have been all this week
An' so with that con--------
---- --- --- you must seek

VERSE 5
He looked upon th poeple
He looked upon them all
He looked upon th landlord
To him he gave a call
Saying, here are thirty of th new
And twenty of th old
With that he drew from his pocket
His both hands full of gold

VERSE 6
O Johnny, young Johnny
I merely spoke in jest
I know I've no exception
I'm sure I love you best
My great beds are empty
An' have been all this day
My great beds are empty
And there you may stay

VERSE 7
Before I'd lie within your door
I'd lie out on th street
For when I had no money
My lodging I might seek
An' now moneys plenty
My head is in a whirl
With a bottle of sweet brandy
And on my knee a girl

VERSE 8
Come all you young people
Wherever you may be
Who expect to make your money
Out on th raging sea
Be sure to make good use of it
And lay it up on store
For without that companion
She'll turn you from th door


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