My Johnny Was A Shoe Maker


Jon attributes his source as Steeleye Span saying, “This was brilliantly and timelessly performed by Maddy Prior and Gay Woods on Hark The Village Wait. It’s worth listening to on headphones for the rather neat stereo trickery.” I can only agree with Jon’s headphone instruction, having just followed it myself. There’s an extensive Mudcat thread on this, with much debate about the tune and also the origin on account of the authorship being claimed by a W.J. Florence, which may or may not be true. You’ll also find lots of detail attached to the Steeleye entry on Mainly Norfolk here, including their acknowledged source. Somewhere down that Mudcat thread is the suggestion that many stage or show songs have made their way into what is now regarded as the folk tradition. I guess if enough people sing them then they make their own way into the later collections, which in the light of the excellent Barry Dransfield song yesterday (and other modern compositions we’ve already had here) is an interesting point. Every song must have a point when it somehow enters the tradition, perhaps for some songs that will have been here, a session in some pub over the last 10 years and so forth. (Kick! …. Run!)



14 Responses to “My Johnny Was A Shoe Maker”

  1. Jane Ramsden says:

    Well done on the cross-gender singing, Jon, though I still think a girlie would have been more convincing!

    But I have learnt yet another thing through AFSAD! I went to Mudcat Café and have only just realised you can listen to tunes on there as well as find lyrics. Only the MIDI files of ‘My Johnny Was A Shoe Maker’ wouldna play in my Windows Media. So, not only did I have to go find out what a MIDI file was, but also why it wouldna play and what would make it play! Having twiddled with my drivers – oh-er, Matron! – I have made it work… but Salmon the cat started meowing at the peculiar sound. As she does not do that at any of Jon’s singing, I conclude MIDI music files have their limitations… The acid test would be if Jon sang the tune I was then playing – ‘Gatherin’ Nuts In May’ – there’s time yet in the AFSAD calendar…

  2. Shelley says:

    Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter in folk if a man sings from a woman’s point of view, or vice versa, although I do tend to avoid anything too “blokey”.

    Really enjoyed this one, and it’s another one for the “to learn” list.

  3. Phil says:

    Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter in folk if a man sings from a woman’s point of view, or vice versa, although I do tend to avoid anything too “blokey”.

    M3 T00, the other way round – I’ve done Blackwaterside and My Bonnie Boy, but I’ve never felt tempted by The Whorly Whorl or My Husband’s Got No Courage in Him. (On the other hand, a male friend of mine does do Maids When You’re Young, which is in very similar territory.)

    A non-folk song I’ve always wanted to do, but probably never will, is Kirsty MacColl’s Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim. Wonderful song…

    Some boys with warm hands and cold, cold hearts
    Can make you feel nothing at all
    They’ll never remember and they’ll never mind
    If you’re counting the cracks in the wall

    …but not very well suited to a male voice!

    but not

  4. Indian says:

    Such an impressive ansewr! You’ve beaten us all with that!

  5. Muzza+382days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Wowsa…………You’re all back!…
    Since the 13th I’ve had dire ‘There be dragons’ /’a pox will descend on you’ warnings from my firewall…telling me that the AFSAD site has been smitten with virus….
    It was akin to having an arm chopped off….I would never get to know if Diana met Linda……………phew…..just me then…………..could have been a ploy to give you all a few days peace!

  6. Diana says:

    @ Muzza always been here. Yes met Linda, no trouble at all with the red and white roses. Thought you had deserted us.

    Liked the song

  7. Muzza+382days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Another scare this evening…………mesage said ‘site suspended’….I suppose it will have to happen one day

  8. Diana says:

    Muzza we are back on again.

  9. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    If a song is very, very, good then it is worth having a go at transposing to the other gender
    ref Phil’s comment above…the verse could read:-

    Some GIRLS with warm hands and cold, cold hearts
    Can make you feel nothing, therefore
    They’ll never remember and they’ll never mind
    If you’re counting the cracks in the FLOOR

    (see what I did there!………from the other person’s point of VIEW)
    Damn…….nobody else will come on line and see what a little smart arse I am!

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    Well, it’s a better arse-pecked than looking at yer adder-bitten bottom… smart as it is… & I bet it would… smart that is! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

  11. Jane Ramsden says:

    Sad to report the death of Bill Caddick on 19 Nov (2018.) At 74, he’d been ill for some time, but passed peacefully at his home surrounded by his family, as he wanted to be. Writer of many memorable songs, he was associated with some of the music/groups I have waxed lyrical about on here many times: the Albion Band (doing Lark Rise), the Home Service, & I just learnt he was even a session musician on Les Barker’s Tubular Dogs! RIP.

  12. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Hey…not more bad news…..Bill Caddick was one of the first of my folk heroes……
    Fascinated by his….”alas poor pig condemned to die” song
    Have you noticed that these two recent departures have opened up the daily comments!

  13. Jane Ramsden says:

    Fond farewells tend to herald happier hellos methinks…

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    My mention of ‘The Holmfirth Anthem’ under yesterday’s song reminded me that the Yorkshire ‘village carol’ tradition, specifically the Sheffield one, is starting imminently on here with ‘Jacobs Ladder.’ ‘The Holmfirth Anthem,’ despite being non-religious & a very summery song, is often sung locally as a carol &, for most of the 20th century, was accepted as part of the West Sheffield carol repertoire.
    However, learning of Bill Caddick’s passing made me look for a carol by him. I could not find a recording of him having sung ‘The Holmfirth Anthem,’ but found this rather splendid rendition instead:

    ‘Winter Fair’ to Wednesfield Past & Present:

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