To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=126099
46 messages

Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)

29 Dec 09 - 02:09 AM (#2798211)
Subject: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: 12003biloute

Hello

In Green Corn (Huddie Leadbelly song)recorded in Washington D.C., August 23, 1, Huddie talks about a jimmy-john

Who knows what a jimmy-john is?
Thanks
Claude


29 Dec 09 - 02:49 AM (#2798212)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Dave Earl

When I was a little lad we had a cat called Jimmy-Jon !!

Don't suppose that answers the question though


29 Dec 09 - 05:54 AM (#2798270)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Jack Campin

A mutation of "demijohn"?


29 Dec 09 - 07:10 AM (#2798301)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Azizi

"Jimmy-John" is probably folk etymology for "demi-john". See this excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carboy

"A carboy is a container for fluids, typically used for in-home fermentation of beverages, often wine...

In brewing, a carboy is also known as a demijohn. It is a glass or plastic vessel used in fermenting beverages such as wine, mead, and beer. Usually it is fitted with a rubber stopper and a fermentation lock to prevent bacteria and Oxygen from entering during the fermentation process."

-snip-

Also, see this repost from another Mudcat thread:

Subject: RE: Req/ADD: Poor Howard (from Leadbelly)
From: MikeofNorthumbria - PM
Date: 14 Mar 09 - 09:50 AM

Justr a thought about "stand around the demi-john"

I remember reading somewhere (sorry, no reference available) that old-time dancers sometimes demonstrated their skill by stepping around - and over - a demi-john (a gallon liquor jar) without touching it (A bit like the bacca-pipes jig or the broom dance.)

Since "Green corn" is clearly a dance tune, this might be how the demi-john got in there.

Wassail!

thread.cfm?threadid=4280


29 Dec 09 - 08:35 AM (#2798345)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Charley Noble

Excellent!

I'll drink to that.

Charley Noble


29 Dec 09 - 08:51 AM (#2798363)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: RoyH (Burl)

Check out Frankie Laine's repertoire. he had a song that mentioned 'jimmy-john'.


29 Dec 09 - 01:04 PM (#2798597)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Jimmy John's gourmet sandwiches- franchises available!

Lighter's "Historical Dictionary of American Slang" says a "jimmy" is the penis in rap, and a "jimmy hat" is a condom.

No entry for "jimmyjohn."


29 Dec 09 - 01:29 PM (#2798616)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Bill D

'corn' refers to corn likker, thus a demi-john is what one would need to bring along. Folks who heard the song with no knowledge of corn mash just repeated the closest words they could think of.


29 Dec 09 - 02:43 PM (#2798679)
Subject: ADD: The Gandy Dancers Ball
From: MikeL2

hi

Thanks for this question. My Dad had a stack of old shellac 78's and sometimes we used to play them on his gramophone even though by this time this kind of set-up was obsolete.

I remember one record was by Frankie Laine and we never did really know what the "Jimmy John" was that he was singing in The Gandy Dancers Ball.

I just googled the full lyric in case anyone here is interested. someone here will

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

The Gandy Dancer is a railroad man
And his work is never done
With his pick and his shovel and his willing hands
He makes the railroad run
There's Macanaw Mack and Toledo Jack
And the boys from Idaho
And the Frisco kid and Saginaw Sid
And good old Cotton-eyed Joe

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

The boys will gather at the great affair
The Gandy Dancer's ball
A-kissin' their ladies with perfumed hair
And prancin' round the hall
They got the biggest band in all the land
And the rhythm rocks the room
And they holler out with a mighty shout
When the big bass drum goes boom

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

The railroads bring `em to the great affair
The Gandy Dancer's ball
An' every line is represented there
The big ones and the small
There's the MKT and the old SP
And the Lee High Valley too
The C and J and the Santa Fe
The Southern and the Sioux

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

They danced all day
And they danced all night
They all danced till the broad daylight
At the Gandy Dancer's ball

(Swing around, swing around
Swing around, swing around
The Jimmy John)

So now you know hic.....hic.....lol

cheers

Mike
Also posted here (click).


30 Dec 09 - 01:01 PM (#2799403)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Dave Roberts

Mike,

Thanks for posting that. I too had an old wind-up gramophone when I was young (banished from the house to the garage)and a stack of 78s, including 'The Gandy Dancers' Ball'. Others included 'She Wears Red Feathers'(Guy Mitchell), 'The Ballad of Robin Hood' (the Dick James version), 'Quicksilver'(Doris Day), 'My Truly Truly Fair' (Guy Mitchell or Frankie Laine?)and 'Tzena Tzena Tzena' (can't remember who by, but it wasn't The Weavers).
Eventually I tired of both gramophone and records and - horror of horrors - they were all thrown on the local tip.
Since then, of course, I have learned the error of my ways and am the proud possessor of a Decca Brunswick portable, which is meticulously oiled, cleaned, polished and fussed over like a baby, and a collection of about 200 78s.
The point is, some of those old songs sound great on 78 to this day. There's just something so tactile and satisfying about 'putting a record on' which is missing with other forms of reproduction, including CDs.
And to bring the thread back on topic, it's nice to know at last what a 'jimmy-john' is. I never knew either.


30 Dec 09 - 03:55 PM (#2799524)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: wysiwyg

Happy New Year to all multicultural competents! :~)

~S~


30 Dec 09 - 03:58 PM (#2799529)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Dave Roberts

Stop Press: I've just been googling 'Tzena Tzena Tzena' and I'm pretty sure the version I had was by Mitch Miller.


31 Dec 09 - 10:32 AM (#2800073)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: MikeL2

Hi Dave

Your Dad wasn't my Dad was he ?? lol Seems they had the same tastes.

Unfortunately I don't have all of the 78's nowadays. Constant house moves appear to have demollished my collection.

Though I do have digitised versions that I converted some years ago.

When I converted them I did it in two passes, copying the output of both stages.
First I merely copied the 78's to CD - warts and all. Then I copied them again using some software that let me clean up the tracks.

So I have both and sometimes when I am in a mellow mood I play em. I honestly can't decide which version I prefer. For clarity the "cleaned" version is better, but even though I have to play them on my Hi Fi the originals still give me that wistful feeling...

Well you know what I mean.

I just listened to The Cry of the Wildgoose by Frankie Laine and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine by Jimmie Rodgers. And how about Allentown Jail by Lita Roza ???

Cheers

Mike


I converted the


31 Dec 09 - 11:33 AM (#2800095)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is?
From: Charley Noble

Mike-

Thanks for posting " The Gandy Dancer's Ball."

You might want to post it also on it's own thread so that it might be more fully discussed, and easier for someone to find if they were searching the threads.

"Hot corn, cold corn, bring along the demi-john!"

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


10 Jan 10 - 09:46 AM (#2808229)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST

Trivia --

"Gandy Dancer's Ball," believe it or not, is a Disney song. So is "Shrimp Boats," "Mule Train" and "Would I Love You Love You Love You." At the time, Walt Disney Music Company tried to get into the pop music business and these and other non-movie Disney songs are still in their catalog. Tim Hollis and I wrote about it in "Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records."
Greg
www.mousetracksonline.com


10 Jan 10 - 10:39 AM (#2808268)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Dave Roberts

Guest Greg,

No, I'd no idea of the Disney involvement in these songs and I'll take a look at your site with interest.
Another favourite track from those far-off days has swum back into my consciousness: 'Rose, Rose, I Love You' by Frankie Laine (or, again, was it Guy Mitcell? I always got the two of them mixed up) - one of the most insanely catchy songs I've ever heard. It sounded fabulous on 78.


10 Jan 10 - 04:17 PM (#2808541)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Celtaddict

I vividly remember Shrimp Boats and Gandy Dancer's Ball but did not know about the Disney origin. As soon as I saw the thread title I thought of Gandy Dancer's.
And by the way, the song almost tells what a gandy dancer is. He is a railroad tracklayer. There are a couple of explanations for the term's origin. A 'gandy' was apparently a term for a shovel or similar tool used in shifting the rocky base that supported track and tie. Some have said there was a tool company called 'Gandy' but there is evidently no record of such a company. If a shovel or similar tool was introduced into the rocky area, it required the worker to jump on the handle to shift it, hence gandy-dancing which is more euphonius than 'shovel jumping.' It has also been said that the row of men working in unison carrying track down would walk wide-legged with the track between, appearing to waddle like a gander, moving rhythmically in unison, or gander-dancing-> gandy-dancing. I thought 'gandy' might derive from an Irish word for shovel, pick, mattock, or digging, but have not found such a word. So, when there are several etymologies, it is a longer but more interesting way of saying, who knows?


10 Jan 10 - 06:59 PM (#2808641)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Dave Roberts

Celtaddict,

Many thanks for that. In the UK the people who maintain the track are called 'platelayers', a term which goes all the way back to the birth of railways and the iron tramways which preceded them.
There are, of course, many thousands of railway/railroad songs but not, I imagine, very many about track workers (Dave Goulder sings a couple on 'Requiem For Steam').
Incidentally, if there should be any lingering doubt as to what a 'jimmyjohn' is, a quick search of Youtube will settle it.
There's one clip, taken from a feature film, in which Frankie Laine and his troupe of dancers dance around a giant 'jimmyjohn', a large earthenware 'moonshiners' jug, which is part of the studio set.
Frankie then jumps on top of said 'jimmyjohn' to finish the song.
This has to be considered pretty conclusive evidence.


10 Jan 10 - 11:26 PM (#2808774)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Celtaddict

Well, Dave, it should, since Frankie Laine is the one who recorded the song in 1951, a few years before the film was made.


12 Jan 10 - 05:39 PM (#2810384)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Fortunato

Also the Weavers and Tennessee Ernie Ford reocorded it in 1951. Disney does not own the rights, however. Hanover Music has it, and the writers are         PAUL MASON HOWARD, PAUL WESTON. See Harry Fox Agency for licensing.

http://www.harryfox.com/songfile/public/publicsearchresults.do?forward=drilldown&index=0


12 Jan 10 - 06:11 PM (#2810405)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,Q as Guest

Fortunato is referring to "Gandy Dancers Ball," and "Shrimp Boats."

There are several songs entitled "Mule Train," but the one sung by Laine, Crosby and others is by Fred Glickman, Hy Heath and Johnny Lange, ASCAP title code 430102784, Bull Eye Music Co. publisher/administrator.


12 Jan 10 - 07:41 PM (#2810488)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: kendall

Green corn is also a very effective laxative.


13 Jan 10 - 05:52 AM (#2810748)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Allan C.

Here are the lyrics of a very fast-paced bluegrass song. In fact, in the recordings I have heard, the words are sung so quickly that I was convinced that "jimmy-john" was what was used until I saw the printed lyrics.

        Hot Corn, Cold Corn


   Hot corn cold corn bring along the demijohn
   Hot corn cold corn bring along the demijohn
   Hot corn cold corn bring along the demijohn
   Fare thee well Uncle Bill see you in the morning yes sir

Well it's upstairs downstairs out in the kitchen (3x)
See you Uncle Bill just a raring and a pitching yes sir

Well it's old Aunt Peggy won't you fill 'em up again (3x)
Ain't had a drink since the lord knows when yes sir

Well yonder comes the preacher and the children are a crying (3x)
Chickens a running and the toenails a flying yes sir


13 Jan 10 - 01:10 PM (#2811060)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Allan C, where did you find the lyrics?


13 Jan 10 - 02:51 PM (#2811131)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,Allan C. away from home

The song lyrics for "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" were found at Bluegrasslyrics.com (Flat & Scruggs songs).


13 Jan 10 - 02:58 PM (#2811135)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: kendall

Some of my bluegrass friends sing it...bring along the Port a john.. green corn, port a john.. get it?


14 Jan 10 - 01:33 AM (#2811546)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,Doc John

I wonder is the Paul Mason Howard mentioned by Fortunato the same as played on those Lead Belly Capitol recordings. Cisco Houston recorded 'Rose, Rose, I Love You' in his popular mode; you can download this (with other rarities) from the Cisco site.


14 Jan 10 - 12:41 PM (#2811867)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Dave Roberts

I love the Cisco Houston version of 'Rose...', particularly the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arrangement.


30 Jan 10 - 03:12 AM (#2825240)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,tineet12

I just wanted to mention the version of "Green Corn" I have is by Josh White titled "Come Along, Charlie". I downloaded it from Amazon. I was trying to figure out the lyrics and thanks to google found my way here. Just wanted to mention it if anyway is interested in listening to this version. I'm off to try listen to "The Gandy Dancers Ball" thanks to this thread. :)


30 Jan 10 - 03:18 AM (#2825241)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Declan

Jimmy John? Corn?
I don't care!


09 Apr 10 - 05:07 PM (#2883149)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,shar

Been looking for these lyrics for years...thxs


27 Apr 12 - 11:52 AM (#3344055)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,james johnson

jimmie john is my nickname
a jimmie-john aka demi-john is a vessel for moonshine aka corn etc etc
we had one when i was a kid made out of earthware covered in woven straw
the bluegrass song goes: hot corn cold corn bring along the demi-john but at times it sounds like jimmie-john
also i believe that jimmie johnson (no kin) is the only coach to win an NCAA college championship and a Super Bowl


02 Dec 12 - 07:30 PM (#3445925)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST

why are childern cryin and toenails flyin


15 Sep 13 - 10:42 PM (#3559169)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,dave h

Thanks all. Why is it called a demi john?
Is that like a half john?


16 Sep 13 - 10:17 AM (#3559324)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,leeneia

Hello, Guest. Toenails are flying because people are dancing. The crying children are probably in there just because they rhyme.


16 Sep 13 - 03:36 PM (#3559409)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,silver

Interesting thread ... I, too, have been wondering what a jimmyjohn is. The large glass bottle for home-brewing, however, I've always heard referred to as a "dame-jeanne", which is also mentioned in the Wikipedia article Azizi gave the link to.
I inherited no less than 4 dame-jeannes from my Dad, and I use them for brewing wine. 3/5 redcurrants, 1/5 blackcurrants and 1/5 blueberries is a good recipe.


31 Oct 13 - 08:31 PM (#3571855)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST

worked on the rr in the 50s it was the dancers water keg


04 Nov 13 - 05:11 PM (#3572841)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,GUEST

My mother would play Green Corn on the banjo and sing this song. She called it a 'demi-john' and would also sing this verse too:

"Over on the hill I heard a mighty racket;

there sat a bullfrog putting on his jacket,
Green Corn."


16 Mar 14 - 01:56 AM (#3609966)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Seamus Kennedy

Dian James and The GreenBriar Boys also did a nice hot version of Green Corn, and with her impeccable diction it's demi-john.


16 Mar 14 - 12:23 PM (#3610056)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,Leadbelly

Once I owned this LP by D. James and the Greenbriar Boys.
The record has gone but I still have all of it on a tape.

So sorry that according to my knowledge gone Dian only made one LP together with R. Rintzler and co.

She had a great voice especially on this fabulous record. Some items can be heard on YouTube. (He was a friend of mine, Sally let your bangs hang down and possibly others).But green corn is missed.

Manfred from Germany


25 Aug 14 - 06:17 PM (#3654023)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,Howie/San Diego

Hot Corn, Cold Corn....."bring along your jimmy-john"
Bluegrass tune done by the Flatt and Scruggs bluegrass band. It would appear it is a reference to a vehicle that contained "sour mash" whiskey.


23 Mar 16 - 06:41 PM (#3780730)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST,Guest Bruce bowers

The Gandy Dancers song was performed by Mitch Miller and his sing along gang. My dad was one of the singers and I have a reel to reel tape of the show.


24 Mar 16 - 08:30 AM (#3780818)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: GUEST

When I saw this thread, I immediately thought of the Holy Modal Rounders performance of "Hot Corn, Cold Corn", on their first (vinyl) LP called "The Holy Modal Rounders".

The chorus is "Hot Corn, cold corn, bring along a demi-john" (x3)
Fare you well, pretty girl, see you in the morning, Yes Sir"

Or at least I always though it was "demi-john" although perhaps it was "jimmy-john", but if so this may have been a corruption of demi-john. Certainly even prior to this I was under the impression a demi-john was a (glass) container used for holding liquids such as home-brewed wine, etc. Demi-john may itself have been a corruption of "dame-jeanne"; this is purely my own theory as is the idea that (a) A demi-john holds about half the water of a "john", i.e. a toilet bowl (b) A "dame jeanne" is named after Joan of Arc and/or another version is "lady Jane". No doubt thse crackpot (excuse the pun) theories of mine will soon end up on Wikipedia! Incidently (and this is serious, Joan of Arc is a misnomber as there was no place called Arc around her home town of Domremy (which I presume is near Orleans is she was also known as the Maid of Orleans) - she was simply the daughter of Jacques D'Arc, so should be called Jeanne D'Arc (or anglicised to Joan Darc or Dark). These days she would probably be confined to a mental institution as she claimed to hear voices. I suspect a lot of the stuff about her is based on legends and hearsay, although she probably was burned at the stake.

The chorus seems almost identical to the version of "Hot Corn Cold Corn" mentioned by Allan C. above in the posting on 13.1.2010 05.52, except that "Pretty Girl" is replaced by "Uncle Bill". However the verses in that posting are completely unkown to me. Offhand I can't even remember the verses of the HMR song, but think that each line was different and wasn't sung three times in a row. The tune is however sung pretty fast.

I suspect there are probably a lot of versions of this song, as it is a light hearted one which would lend itself to improvisation, a bit like "Soldier's Joy" (which the Holy Modal Rounders also covered, though on a different album), "Old Joe Clark", etc.


29 Mar 16 - 10:30 AM (#3782041)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Sean Belt

The lyric in "Green Corn" is 'demijohn' referring to a type of bottle. The 'corn' is corn liquor or corn whiskey. It's green because it hasn't been aged properly and is straight from the still.


30 Mar 16 - 08:17 AM (#3782235)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Bill D

I love these old threads where people answer the question without reading the thread where the question has BEEN answered 3-4 or more times.


30 Mar 16 - 01:11 PM (#3782293)
Subject: RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn)
From: Sean Belt

Bill D,
Glad we could all keep you amused and loving the interaction!
.
.
.
.
Oh... wait, you were being sarcastic, weren't you.
Well, phooey on ya, then.