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Origins: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad

17 Nov 98 - 11:45 AM (#45798)
Subject: Lyr Add: JOHNNY LAD

Hello, I am a sound design student at Boston University. I am in the process of designing the sound for BU's production of the Maiden Stone, by Rona Munro. Within the play are many instances of Scottish (or possibly Irish) ballads being sung. However, there is no mention as to the names of each ballad. I have had success finding some of the ballads, but I am having particular trouble with this one:

And wi' you, and wi' you,
And wi' you Johnnie lad,
I'll dance the buckles aff my shoon
Wi' you my Johnnie lad

O, Johnnie's nae a gentleman,
Nor yet is he a laird,
But I would follow Johnnie lad,
Although he was a caird.

And wi' you, and wi' you,
And wi' you Johnnie lad,
I'll dance the buckles aff my shoon
Wi' you Johnnie lad.

Would anyone be able to tell me the name of this ballad and/or (if it does indeed exist) which album/CD it is on? I've pretty much exhausted the libraries in my vicinity, and have even come up short with a contact in Scotland. If anyone has any information, please contact me as soon as possible at .


HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 2-Nov-02.

17 Nov 98 - 12:28 PM (#45802)
Subject: RE: unknown Scottish ballad from the Maiden Stone
From: Ian

It was certainly recorded by Robin Hall and Jimmy Macgregor sometime in the 70's. I seem to remember that it wasn't actually a ballad, but a sequence of comic verses tied together by the chorus (which is all that I do remember)

17 Nov 98 - 12:41 PM (#45803)
Subject: RE: unknown Scottish ballad from the Maiden Stone
From: dick greenhaus

There are two versions in the DT database; search for [Johnny Lad]

17 Nov 98 - 05:05 PM (#45830)
Subject: RE: unknown Scottish ballad from the Maiden Stone
From: Ewan McV

This is a Scots 'street song'. Various verses were accreted to it during the late 50s, but the original is quite venerable. The taped version from which Ewan MacColl was stated to have got the tune to make the song popular was I have been told fairly clearly in 6/8 time, and MacColl is supposed to have smoothed it out into 4/4. In his collection The Singing Island MacColl says "Originally a very beautiful pastoral song in the tempo of a slow (minor) strathspey, Johnny Lad moved to Glasgow during the late 19th C and was transformed into a children's street song. The lyric became urbanised and the original air was abandoned in favour of a catchy but much plainer tune." MacColl credits the song to his father "from the singing of William Miller of Stirling." He also refers to Ord p158 for the song, but that's an error - it should be p168 of Ord's Bothy Ballads, which has @drink the buckles off my shoon' but is otherwise the same lyric. So Ord is the oldest source I know of.

17 Nov 98 - 06:18 PM (#45837)
Subject: RE: unknown Scottish ballad from the Maiden Stone
From: Bruce O.

"Johnnie Lad" in W. H. Logan's 'Pedlar's Pack', p. 444, 1869 (reprint 1968), is a seven verse song with many of the same verses as the above, and was taken from Peter Buchan's 'Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland', 1828. Logan call it a collection of nursery rhymes strung together without reason.

01 Oct 09 - 07:41 PM (#2736260)
From: Jim Dixon

From A Pedlar's Pack of Ballads and Songs by William Hugh Logan (Edinburgh, W. Paterson, 1869), page 443:


Evidently a Nurse's song "sung to its own proper tune" to amuse her charge "Johnny."—It is merely a collection of nursery rhymes strung together without reason, but presenting a succession of jingle grateful to the youthful ear, and of pictures pleasing to the youthful fancy. Mr Peter Buchan has printed it in his Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, Edin., 8vo, 1828, vol. ii. He innocently remarks:—"Among all the ballads or songs of this name, and they are not a few, to be met with in modern collections, this one has never made its appearance, at least I have never seen it. It is very old, and, as far as I can learn, the original of all the others; although it does not altogether agree with my ideas of the composition of ancient song. The old air to which it is sung is truly beautiful."

There occurs in Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany a song of like construction, termed "The Nurse's Song," the tune of which was "Yellow Stockings." It is merely a string of fragments of nursery rhymes. It begins, "Hey my kitten, my kitten." In Herd's Scotish Songs there is also "The Nurse's Song," commencing:—
    How dan dilly dow,
    How den dan,
    Weel were your minny
    An' ye were a man, &c.
And in the same collection occurs:—
    When I was a wee thing,
    And just like an elf,
    All the meat that e'er I gat,
    I laid upon the shelf, &c.
Tune—"John Anderson my Jo."


I bought a wife in Edinburgh
For a bawbee,
I get a farthing in again
To buy tobacco wi'.
We'll bore in Aaron's nose a hole,
And put therein a ring,
And straight we'll lead him to and fro,
Yea! lead him in a string.

CHORUS: And wi' you, and wi' you,
And wi' you, Johnnie lad,
I'll drink the buckles o' my sheen
Wi' you my Johnnie, lad.

When auld Prince Arthur ruled this land,
He was a thievish king,
He stole three bolls of barley meal,
To make a white pudding.

The pudding it was sweet and good,
And stored weel wi' plumes,
The lumps o' suet into it
Were big as baith my thooms.

There was a man in Nineveh,
And he was wondrous wise,
He jumped into a hawthorn hedge,
And scratched out baith his eyes.

And when he saw his eyes were out,
He was sair vexed then,
He jumped intill another hedge,
And scratched them in again.

O Johnnie's no a gentleman,
Nor yet is he a laird,
But I would follow Johnnie lad,
Although he were a caird.

O Johnnie is a bonny lad.
He was ance a lad o' mine,
I never had a better lad,
And I've had twenty-nine.

01 Oct 09 - 07:50 PM (#2736268)
Subject: Lyr Add: JOHNNIIE LAD
From: Jim Carroll

A rather gentler version than the one I remember from the 'singing pullover' era.
Jim Carroll


1.    Oh, ken you my love Johnny, he'd doon on yonder lea
He's lookin' and he's joukin', and he's aye, watchin' me.
He's pu'in and he's teasin', but his meanin's nae sae bad,
Gin it ever gaun tae be, tell me noo, Johnnie lad.

Tell me noo, my Johnnie laddie, tell me noo me my Johnny lad,
Gin it ever gaun tae be, tell me noo, Johnnie lad.

2.    When the sheep are in the fauld and the kye are in the byre,
An' ither lads an' lassies sittin' roond a roarin' fire;
There's me, a glaiket lassie, just like's gin I was mad
Through the nooks and barley stooks, jinkin' yon, Johnnie lad.

Jinkin' you, my Johnnie laddie,
Jinkin' you, my Johnnie lad -
Through the nooks and barley stooks,
Jinkin' you, Johnnie lad.

3.   O Johnnie's blythe and bonnie, he's the pride o' a' yon lea,
And I lo'e him best o' ony, though he's aye teasin me.
Though he teases me an' squeezes me and tickles me like mad,
Nane comes near me that can cheer me like my ain Johnnie lad.

Ay, it's you, my Johnnie laddie,
Ay, it's you, my Johnnie lad;
Nane can tease me an' can please me
Like my ain Johnnie lad.

4.    O Johnnie's nae a gentleman, nor yet is he a laird,
But I would follow Johnnie lad although he was a caird.
O Johnnie is a bonnie lad, he wis aince a lad o' mine,
An' I've never had a better lad, though I've had twentynine.

An' wi' you, my Johnnie laddie,
An' wi' you, my Johnnie lad,
An' I'll dance the buckles aff my shoon
Wi' you, Johnnie lad.

01 Oct 09 - 08:10 PM (#2736276)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: curmudgeon

I first encountered a variant on the version posted by Jim Dixon sung by the Clancys/Tommy Makem and later heard two versions (slightly different tunes) by Ewan MacColl.

But the more bucolic one that Jim Carroll posted, I first heard on a recording by the Kingston Trio (good rendition, if anglicised) and later by Ewan MacColl. Somewhere I read that the latter version was collected/rediscovered by Hamish Henderson. Memories are not always clear - Tom

02 Oct 09 - 06:47 PM (#2736975)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego

In the Clancy's version was a verse that still makes me chuckle, but which sounds likely a later addition:

Samson was a mighty man,
And he fought wi' a cuddy's jaw,
He fought a thousand battles,
Wearin' crimson flannel drawers!

03 Oct 09 - 06:41 AM (#2737182)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: Ep' Eric

The Corries and Alex Campbell both have this song in their repertoires. It is so well known that I don't think you'll have any trouble in finding what you seek. It would take ages for me to find
it, but I can look if you have any difficuties.


03 Oct 09 - 03:37 PM (#2737475)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: Jim McLean

Sometimes we sang the line
'...Ah'll dance the bauchles aff ma feet ...'
Bauchles were slippers or down at heel shoes and slightly down at heel people were called 'wee bauchles/bachles'.

13 Jun 22 - 06:43 PM (#4144364)
Subject: Origins: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: Joe Offer

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Johnny Lad (I)

DESCRIPTION: Sundry verses about Johnny, biblical themes, King Arthur, and Scottish politics, with refrain "And wi you, and wi you, And wi you, Johnny lad, I'd drink the buckles o my sheen Wi you, Johnny lad."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1827 (quoted in Kinloch)
KEYWORDS: wife commerce Bible talltale royalty food humorous
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Bronson 279, "The Jolly Beggar" (37 versions, but #21 is a fragment of "Johnny Lad")
Logan-APedlarsPack, pp. 443-445, "Johnny Lad" (1 text)
Ford-VagabondSongsAndBalladsOfScotland, pp. 45-47, "Jinkin' You, Jockie Lad" (a fragment of this song is quoted in the notes to that)
Greig/Duncan4 755, "Johnnie's Nae a Gentleman" (6 texts, 5 tunes)
Ord-BothySongsAndBallads, pp. 168-169, "Johnnie Lad" (1 text)
MacColl-PersonalChoice, pp. 62-63, "Johnnie Lad" (1 text)
Jack-PopGoesTheWeasel, p. 48, "Good King Arthur" (1 short text, a floating fragment sometimes found with "Johnny Lad (I)" and sometimes with "In Good Old Colony Times")

ST Log443 (Full)
Roud #2587
Bodleian, 2806 c.11(7), "Johnny, Lad," unknown, n.d.
cf. "There Was a Man of Thessaly" (lyrics)
NOTES [965 words]: The account of Samson fighting with "cuddie's jaws" is in Judges 15:15-16. There is, of course, no Biblical basis for the statement that he "focht a score of battles wearing crimson flannel drawers." While Samson spent most of his life battling the Philistines (mostly by accident), the clothing hardly fits an Israelite of the time.
The story of the Queen playing "fitba' with the lads on Glesga green" is unhistorical; by the time football/soccer became a major sport, Scotland's queen was a German lady living in England -- who, in any case, had no power to order an arbitrary arrest.
The story of King Arthur buying/stealing barley-meal to make pudding seems to have been imported from a nursery rhyme (known to Halliwell; see Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #207, p. 144, "(When good King Arthur ruled this land)." Roud seems to lump these verses with "In Good Old Colony Times"; this strikes me as an extreme stretch.
The man of Ninevah (Thessaly, Bablyon) who scratched out his eyes is unbiblical. But it may be the oldest part of the song, and may have originated independently. The lines appear, in rather different form, in Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book Volume II (c. 1744); others appear in the second edition of Gammer Gurton's Garland or The Nursery Parnassus (c. 1799). These verses can be found in Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #28, p. 40, ["There was a Man so Wise"].
These verses seem to have provoked a great deal of discussion. Katherine Elwes Thomas, who never met a tall tale she didn't blow all out of proportion, connects this to the career of Dr. Henry Sacherevell (died 1724), who for a time was forbidden from preaching, then restored to favour. Thomas, pp. 21-22, reports, 'The learned member of Magdalen College, Oxford, was the man so 'wondrous wise' who, in preaching one famous sermon, on August 15. 1709, at Derby, and another, on November 5th of the same year, at St. Paul's before the Aldermen and Lord Mayor of London, literally 'jumped into a bramble bush and scratched out both his eyes.'" The minor problem with this statement is that he did *not* literally scratch out his eyes!
Sacheverell had been invited to preach by the Lord Mayor, who was a Tory. "Sacheverell's sermon, 'The Perils of False Brethren both in Church and State,' was a thinly veiled attack upon the government, the Revolution settlement, and -- by implication -- the Hanoverian succession [that five years later would make George I king]. Sacheverell's audacity was quickly compounded by that of the lord mayor, who published the sermon: so great was the public demand that an astounding 40,000 copies were printed The government, hoping to silence its clerical enemies, impeached Sacheverell for high crimes, apparently with the queen's [Queen Anne's] approval" (Gregg, p. 298).
The result was the "Sacheverell Riots" (OxfordCompanion, p. 830). His only real punishment was to be suspended from preaching for three years (Biddle, p. 165), and his sermon burned. Even his conviction had been by the slender margin of 69-52. Gregg, p. 307, suggests that the real purpose of Sacheverell's supporters was to strengthen their hands for the next parliamentary election -- and it worked; the Tories had a good election. But this did not bother Queen Anne, who had been rather tired of her old government anyway. "Within a month of the conclusion of the trial, shortly after Parliament was prorogued, the Queen dismissed the Marquis of Kent and gave the Lord Chamberlain's staff to Shrewsbury. The change of ministers had begun" (Biddle, p. 166) Sacheverell, however, faded into obscurity thereafter.
Thomas's notes cite the parliamentary records about Sacheverell but offer no reason to link these verses to him. To bolster her claim, Thomas claims the verses are a Jacobite song, but Thomas offers no evidence for that, either; it's Scottish, but outside the Highlands, Scotland was not overwhelmingly Jacobite.
It has also been argued that this verse was known to Shakespeare; in Twelfth Night, act II, scene III, line 79 (Riverside lineation), Sir Toby sings "There dwelt a man in Babylon, lady, lady." But this is more likely from a broadside known as "The Ballad of Constant Susanna" (Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex ZN2467), which is of course from the deuterocanonical additions to the Book of Daniel (Daniel chapter 13 in Catholic Bibles; it even begins "There was a man living in Babylon").
At least one version known to Rimbault (according to the Opies) made it King Stephen, not King Arthur, who was the thieving king. This is an interesting variant, because Stephen (reigned 1135-1154) had arguably stolen the kingdom from his cousin Matilda/Maud, the only surviving legitimate child of King Henry I. Henry had made his barons swear to support Matilda, but the barons preferred a king to a queen, and chose Stephen. The result was a reign marked by civil war and unrest. Not all sources consider Stephen to have stolen the kingdom -- but many did. - RBW
See Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 11 for the King Arthur lines cited above by RBW. Opie also mentions "There was a man of Nineveh" or Thessaly, etc (Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 497) as being "similarly embodied" in "Johnny Lad" (I).
Also see Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor, "Johnny Lad" (on Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor, "Two Heids are Better than Yin!," Monitor MF 365 LP (1962)). From the liner notes: "A few years ago, this was probably the most popular song of the folk revival in Scotland. Since then, endless dozens of verses have been added on themes historical, political, satirical, and nonsensical." - BS
(E.g. it includes the verse about the king being in the counting-house from "Sing a Song of Sixpence," although the verse has been dated as early as the sixteenth century.)
  • Biddle: Sheila Biddle, Bolinbroke and Harley, Alfred A. Knopf, 1973, 1974
  • Gregg: Edward Gregg, Queen Anne, 1980 (I use the 2001 Yale English Monarchs paperback edition with a new introduction by the author)
  • OxfordCompanion: John Cannon, editor, The Oxford Companion to British History, 1997; revised edition, Oxford, 2002
  • Thomas: Katherine Elwes Thomas, The Real Personages of Mother Goose, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., 1930
Last updated in version 6.2
File: Log443

Jinkin' You, Johnnie Lad

DESCRIPTION: "Oh, ken ye my love Johnnie, he lives doon on yonder lea, and he's lookin', and he's joukin', and he's aye watchin' me." The singer describes her deep fondness for (Johnnie/Jockie), and looks forward to a happy life despite his poverty
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1904 (Ford)
KEYWORDS: love courting
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Ford-VagabondSongsAndBalladsOfScotland, pp. 45-47, "Jinkin' You, Jockie Lad" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig/Duncan4 756, "Johnnie Lad" (1 text, 1 tune)
MacColl-PersonalChoice, p. 67, "Johnnie Lad" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #6131
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, "Johnny Lad" (on SCMacCollSeeger01)
File: FVS045

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2023 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Oh, Johnny my man, do you no think o' risin'
The day is weel spent and the nicht's coming on
Your siller's a' done and the gill stoup is empty
Oh rise up, my Johnny, and come awa' hame

The bairnies at hame are roarin' and greetin'
Nae meal in the barrel tae fill their wee wames
You sit here drinkin' and leave me lamentin'
Oh rise up, my Johnny, and come awa' hame

Wha's that at the door that's speakin' sae kindly
It's the voice o' my ain wifie, Maggie by name
Come in, my dear lassie, and sit doon aside me
Na, rise up, my Johnny, and come awa' hame

Oh Johnny, my man, dae ye mind o' the courtin'
Nae ale-house or tavern ere ran in your mind
We spent the lang days mid the sweet smellin' roses
And ne'er gie'd a thocht towards gaun awa' hame

Oh weel dae I mind the times that ye speak o'
But they days have passed and will ne'er come again
Just think on the present, we'll try for tae mend it
So gie's your hand Maggie, and I'll awa' hame

When Johnny rase up, he banged the door open
Sayin', cursed be the ale-hoose that e'er let me in
And wae tae the whiskey that mak's me aye thirsty
So fare thee well, whiskey, and I'll awa' hame

@drink @home
recorded by Jean Redpath on Song of the Seals
filename[ JONMYMAN

17 Apr 24 - 01:09 AM (#4201106)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad

Dear Jim Dixon I heard your story of the recordings of the song Johnny Lad. The Corries version of Johnny lad was the one both myself and my friend heard the song before we got our band together and performed it a lot in our gigs. We played and sang this a lot on our shows and it became a well reserved in all the songs we sung and played. My band were called Braveheart a name that stuck in my head to keep singing and playing. The Kingston Trio did not sing Johnny Lad. There song was called Genie Glen a song written by former member Dave Gar. Thank you Jim for saying this from Joe

17 Apr 24 - 08:11 PM (#4201162)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: Mrrzy

Ah, mondegreen...

To buy tobacvo wi' was heard as To bite a bag o'weed...

18 Apr 24 - 09:05 AM (#4201189)
Subject: RE: Origins: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: GUEST,Guest

"The Kingston Trio did not sing Johnny Lad. There song was called Genie Glen a song written by former member Dave Gar."

The variant of "Johnny Lad" that the Kingston Trio sang (with the "Do you know my Johnny? He's down on yonder lea" lyrics) was titled "With You My Johnny." It's on the "Sold Out" album. And the former Kingston Trio member this refers to is Dave Guard, not "Gar."

19 Apr 24 - 11:34 PM (#4201268)
Subject: RE: Origins: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: Jack Campin

Surely "Johnny My Man" is completely unrelated both in tune and words?

23 Apr 24 - 03:48 PM (#4201462)
Subject: RE: Origins: Johnny Lad / Johnnie Lad
From: leeneia

I agree, Jack. Totally unrelated in topic and spirit. Some years ago there was a novel called "Angela's Ashes," in which an Irish family endured the kind of misery described in that song. My pity for the starving children and my rage at the drunken father forced me to put the book down, unfinished. "Johnny My Man" evokes the same feelings.