John Anderson, My Jo, John
DESCRIPTION: Singer upbraids her lover for rising so early and coming to bed so late, tells him he's aging and risking being cuckolded. She describes his attributes fairly explicitly, and her own, saying "'Tis all for your conveniency/John Anderson, my jo"
AUTHOR: Attributed to Robert Burns
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy)
KEYWORDS: age marriage sex husband bawdy
FOUND IN: Britain
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Percy/Wheatley-ReliquesOfAncientEnglishPoetry II, pp. 131-133, "John Anderson My Jo" (1 text, short and probably bowdlerized; Percy's first and final editions have some differences)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 155 "John Anderson, My Jo (II)
cf. "John Anderson, My Jo (I)"
cf. "Johnny Bull, My Jo, John" (tune)
cf. "Cruiskeen Lawn" (tune)
John Anderson, My Jo (I) (File: FSWB141B)
Johnny Bull, My Jo, John (File: SBoA118)
Dundee Jail (File: Gath071)
John Bull's Epistle (Huntington-SongsTheWhalemenSang, pp. 172-174)
O Jimmy Fisk, My Jo, Jim (fragment in Cohen-LongSteelRail, p. 91)
New Song ("James Madison my Joe, Jim, I wonder what you mean") (Lawrence-MusicForPatriotsPoliticiansAndPresidents, p. 220)
John Adams' son, my jo, John (Lawrence-MusicForPatriotsPoliticiansAndPresidents, p. 239)
Johnny the Broker ("O Johhny Q., my Jo, John, your father sought a crown") (Lawrence-MusicForPatriotsPoliticiansAndPresidents, p. 240)
The Black Lettered List ("John Quincy John my Joe, John") (Lawrence-MusicForPatriotsPoliticiansAndPresidents, p. 240)
Bank Melody ("Nick Biddle, O! my auld Nick, When we were first acquent, The Bank had full five years to run") (Foner, p. 30)
John Williamson, My Jo, John (by Charles R. Thatcher) (Hoskins-GoldfieldBalladeer-LifeAndTimes-Charles-R-Thatcher, pp. 186-188, with a reproduction of a broadside facing p. 37)
John Chinaman, My Jo (Hoskins-GoldfieldBalladeer-LifeAndTimes-Charles-R-Thatcher, pp. 147-148; Anderson-ColonialMinstrel, p. 88; apparently this was sometimes used as part of a longer piece, "McLachlan in Court," which used several tunes)
Why Awa' So Lang at Nicht ("John, Anderson, my Jo, John") (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, p. 178)
Will and Kate ("Now, Kate, fully forty years ha'e flown") (The Ulverston New Poetical Miscellany, p. 215)
Oh, Matty Van, My Jo, Mat (Harrison campaign song) (A. B. Norton, _Songs of the People in the Log Cabin Days of Old Tippecanoe_, A. B. Norton & Co., 1888 (available on Google Books), p.74)
John Conington, my jo, John (A squib describing the boring lecture habits of Oxford Latin professor John Conington (1826-1869), quoted by Charles Dodgson ("Lewis Carroll") in his diary for Dec. 9, 1864; see Edward Wakeling, editor, _Lewis Carroll's Diaries: The Private Journals of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson_, Volume 5, September 1864 to January 1868, Lewis Carroll Society, 1999, p. 28)
NOTES [94 words]: It's clear that "John Anderson, My Jo (I)" is a thoroughly bowdlerized version of this song, but their mood is so different that I've split them. - PJS
And properly; Burns reportedly had to clean it us to make the song singable in polite society.
There is still a third version, the Digital Tradition's JOHNAND5, which is a temperance song.
Burns may have had his hand in some versions even of the bawdy text, but it is not all his; the "official" version, in the Scots Musical Museum (filed in the Index as "John Anderson, My Jo (I)") is entirely Burns's work. - RBW
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