The Gleeman

Notes on John Barleycorn



This is #90 in Sharp's Folk Songs from Somerset series (the fourth). The Tune was sung by Mr. John Stafford at Bishops Sutton. It is the second version of John Barleycorn supplied by Sharp. John Stafford gave Sharp the words to the first verse only, and the words for the remaining verses were taken from Bell's Songs of the Peasantry or England.

Sharp also gives the story of how Mr. John Stafford acquired the tune; "Mr. Stafford told me that he heard the song solemnly chanted by some street singers, who passed through his village when he was a child. The song fascinated him and he followed the singers and tried to learn it from them. For several days afterwards he was unable to recall the air, when one day, to his great delight, the tune suddenly came back to him, and since then he has constantly sung it." (Sharp, ibid, p81.)

Regarding the arrangement, I have taken the liberty of removing the piano accompaniment and only providing the air for one verse. It should be noted that the difference in hyphenation in the last line ("did-i-a-ge-wo" in the air, compared to "di-di-a-ge wo" in the text) are as published.

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