Leave Her Johnny


Jon again points to the Forest School camps and particularly to Daniel Jacks  for his source of this with the revelation, “I think this is the only song I have genuinely learnt ‘orally’ – Daniel and I were re-turfing a fire pit on a Welsh camp (I must have been 16 or so) and he taught me it verse by verse. Haven’t seen Daniel for a very long time but he’s a fantastically rich and laid back singer. Simon Emmerson (Afro Celts) made a few recordings of him for FSC – not sure if they’re available anywhere still.” This one is definitely a shanty and seems to have had any number of verses in varying order. I’m indebted to Reinhard at Mainly Norfolk for his research on this and the sleeve notes quoted suggest that verses could well have been improvised at the end of a voyage to suit the circumstances and air the particular grievances of the crew. I also like the suggestion that it was saved up as the last song, as singing it before the ship was all but home was tantamount to mutiny. It suggests many a salty version with no punches pulled and this link is also worthy, suggesting many unprintable verses. I couldn’t find anything more illuminating on Mudcat, so please add to this if you can.

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17 Responses to “Leave Her Johnny”

  1. David says:

    We have a group (Zero Temperance) who do a version of this, led by Geoff Bibby, which really rocks, but keeps to the shanty tempo and, basically, this tune. Always been one of my favourites as it’s a belter for joining in with.

  2. Roberto says:

    I’ve always liked this shanty, but most recordings of it I don’t. Now this one is very good and captures the note of melancholy hidden in the song.

  3. Stuart says:

    I’ve been following Jons daily renditions of classics old and new with great interest. I notice that Jon cites Forest School Camps as a source of material quite often and found myself intrigued as this is not something I have come across. With help from google I found the organisations website – http://www.fsc.org.uk/ and even better their A-Z of songs – http://www.fsc.org.uk/glee/index.htm (some with guitar chords). There are also some streamable music files by Boden et al. I’m surprised that this is not added as a hyperlink with every mention of FSC and maybe a place in this sites links section would be appropriate. It sounds as though the work FSC does with children is a great introduction to traditional and acoustic music alongside the other skills they share and Jon clearly has a debt of gratitude for encouraging his obvious talent and passion.

    I think that’s enough for my first post!

    Keep up the good work

    Stuart C

  4. Roberto says:

    In the A-Z list of songs, there are many I’d like to hear Jon Boden sing. Especially the ballads, such as The Prickle Eye Bush, that he has already recorded. And Turpin Hero, a song I do like.

  5. Phil says:

    Great stuff – the last three have all beren terrific & this might be the best of the lot.

  6. admin says:

    Stuart, Simon here. It’s a good point and I have commented here before that I want to create some kind of glossary, with information and links to explore for more information about the sources in particular. The same names will keep reoccurring and I thought further listening could also usefully be added, but I just haven’t been able to get to it yet. Subject to a minor niggle with the September audio files being sorted in the next day or so, I’ll have a crack and see if I can get something going by next week. I’ll make it a post somewhere that people can add to as well as there are some very knowledgeable folk on here.

  7. Stuart says:

    Roberto, I agree. Lots of great songs old and new in the A-Z and I’d like Jon to share the tunes; if only for my own selfish needs so that I can have a crack at them!

    Simon, A noble cause but from my experience of web based work this could turn into a lifes work for you! Still nothing ventured… 🙂

  8. Jo Breeze says:

    More about Leave Her Johnny from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
    There are 29 records of Leave Her Johnny in the Library, from various locations in England as well as the USA, Canada and Australia – a well-travelled song, as one might expect.
    We used the Roud number to cross reference against different titles for the song. When searched on Roud No. 354, there are 43 records – including such notable collectors’ names as Cecil Sharp, Peter Kennedy, Cyril Tawney, Percy Grainger, Tony Engle and more.
    If you wish to see more detail on each record, change the ‘output’ to ‘record’ and press ‘submit query’.
    There are 4 records of the song in the Take 6 collection, from the manuscripts of Anne Gilchrist and George Gardiner.
    We use the Roud index and the Take 6 online collections in the search for information on Jon’s selections.
    For more information, or to carry out your own search for songs, please visit http://www.efdss.org/front/access-the-library-online/access-the-library-online/115
    If you need any help accessing the library online or have any questions, please contact the VWML on 020 7485 2206 or library@efdss.org.

  9. cosplay says:

    Like the put up, it’s preferrred to concede somebody seeing impatient about one’s voice besides practice owing to I am!

  10. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Oh yes Cosplay……………I’m with you ALL the way on that one………
    would somebody call Matron for me.

  11. John Biggs says:

    A great song this, but would be better with a few more voices driving the responses and choruses.
    For anyone wishing to hear uncensored versions of these old sea songs it is worth trying the c.d, mentioned in Mainly Norfolk. It was conceived by Johnny Dep during his Pirate days and is a compilation performed by many singers, known and unknown. Titled Rogue’s Gallery, Pirate Songs, Sea Songs & Chanteys, it is not for the faint hearted, and not to be played when Aunty is round for tea. (I suppose it depends on the sort of aunty you have!)

  12. Diana says:

    A totally different type of sea shanty. not quite as lively as many of the others we have had in the past but still I really enjoyed listening to this one.

  13. Jan says:

    Always like a good shanty!

    Are you there, Muzza? Have a look at the old frog – I have managed to persuade the other members of Miscellany to post our version of John Ball – although due to technical dumbcluckery it appears twice!

  14. Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jan………………looked at the old Frog and your excellent rendition of John Ball.
    You can delete the duplication…
    As YOU are too modest to provide the link:-

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

    Where did Seven years go!!!!

  16. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Eight years then!

  17. OldMuzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    WOT!….eleven years!……hope that you are all still friends and still singing!

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