John Anderson, My Jo (I)

DESCRIPTION: Singer tells how, when she first saw John, he was young, handsome, and her first love; now his hair is white, but she loves him still. They've climbed the hill together and must now totter down, but they'll go hand in hand and "sleep together at the foot"
AUTHOR: Robert Burns
EARLIEST DATE: 1790
KEYWORDS: love age death hair
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Silber-FSWB, p. 141, "John Anderson, My Jo (I)"
DT, JOHNAND3*
ADDITIONAL: James Kinsley, editor, Burns: Complete Poems and Songs (shorter edition, Oxford, 1969) #302, p. 419, "John Anderson My Jo" (1 text, 1 tune, from 1790)
James Johnson, Editor, _The Scots Musical Museum_ [1853 edition], volume III, #260, p. 269, "John Anderson my Jo" (1 text, 1 tune)

ST FSWB141B (Full)
RECORDINGS:
Henry Burr, "John Anderson, My Jo" (Victor 4557, 1906; Victor 16213, 1909)
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Johnson Ballads fol. 12[some words illegible], "John Anderson My Jo" ("John Anderson, my jo, John, when we were first acquent")[2 verses], J. Catnach (London), 1829; also Firth b.25(600/601) View 1 of 2, Firth b.28(25a) View 1 of 2, Firth b.25(295), "John Anderson My Jo" [2 verses]; Firth c.14(21), "John Anderson My Jo" [6 verses]; Firth b.27(271), Johnson Ballads 528, Harding B 11(1894), "John Anderson, My Jo" [7 verses]; Harding B 11(487), "John Anderson My Joe[sic] ("John Anderson, my jo, John, when nature first began)" [5 verses]
Bodleian, Harding B 45(17) View 3 of 3, "John Anderson My Joe[sic], John" ("John Anderson, my jo, John, I wonder what you mean"), unknown, no date; also Harding B 11(439), "John Anderson, my jo"
LOCSheet, sm1836 370070, "John Anderson my Jo John" ("John Anderson, my jo, John, when nature first began)," George Endicott (New York), 1836 (tune)
LOCSinging, sb20240a, "John Anderson, my Jo"("John Anderson, my jo, John, When we were first acquent"), J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "John Anderson, My Jo, John"
cf. "Johnny Bull, My Jo, John" (tune)
cf. "Cruiskeen Lawn" (tune)
cf. "John Barleycorn, My Jo" (temperance parody)
cf. "Wae Be to that Weary Drink, John Anderson, My Jo" (temperance derivative)
NOTES: This sounds like a version of "John Anderson, My Jo, John" that's been so thoroughly bowdlerized that nothing remains but the aging motif. The overall mood of the two songs is so different that I've split them. - PJS
This is actually the Burns rewrite, published in the Scots Musical Museum (and fairly often reprinted, e.g. in Palgrave's Golden Treasury, item CXCVII). Apparently Burns didn't dare publish the bawdy original, but liked the feeling of ths song.
Those who want to see an even stranger rewrite should examine "John Barleycorn, My Jo, John" (Logan, pp. 221-222), a parody in which grain is the singer's love. Another broadside parody is "My Bonnie Meg, My Jo" [NLScotland, L.C.178.A.2(105), "My Bonnie Meg, My Jo," unknown, c. 1875], which deals with a man's problems with an elderly shrew of a wife.
NLScotland L.C.Fol.60(15b), "John Anderson, My Jo (A New Reading)," Poet's Box (Dundee), c. 1890, is also a raspy dialog between husband and wife, in which they decide to go to bed and fight another day; it is probably a rewrite of the Burns version, though there might be some bawdry from the traditional version. - RBW
Broadside Bodleian Harding B 45(17) italicizes Burns's two verses among its total of eight verses; Harding B 11(439) has the same arrangement without the italics. This eight verse version, beginning "John Anderson, my jo, John, I wonder what you mean" seems the basis for the temperance song "Wae Be to That Weary Drink, John Anderson, My Jo" ("John Anderson, my jo, John, I wonder what you mean"). The first verse at least of this version seems to belong to "John Anderson, My Jo, John," viz.,
John Anderson, my jo, John, I wonder what you mean
To rise so soon in the morning, and sit up so late at e'en.
Ye'll blear out a' your e'en, John, and why should you do so,
Gang sooner to your bed at e'en, John Anderson, my jo.
Broadside LOCSinging sb20240a: J. Andrews dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
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File: FSWB141B

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