John Barleycorn

On Autumn Harvest AH 004
Old Songs & Bothy Ballads - Some Rants o Fun

Duncan Williamson sings:

The character of John Barleycorn in the song represents the spirit of the harvest, and of the alcohol made from it - whisky and beer. In the song, John Barleycorn suffers from the ploughing of the ground, the reaping of the crop, the milling of the grain and the conversion of the grain into alcohol. Finally a glass of the liquor is in raised as a toast to his health. Duncan's version comes from his family tradition. The song was known to Robert Burns and is widespread in English tradition.

1: There were three kings into the East,
Three kings both great and high,
And they have sworn a solemn oath,
John Barleycorn must die;
So they took a plough, they ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And then they swore a solemn oath,
John Barleycorn was dead.

Oho, ho poor Barley, oh poor Barleycorn,
They would cut the heart from a dying man,
To hear John Barley groan.

c p 2007 Autumn Harvest AH004