"There were three men came out of the west their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow, John barleycorn must die,"
The rest of the (Traffic 1970) song is as follows:
They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in, threw clods upon his head
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.
They let him lie for a very long time till the rains from Heaven did fall
And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all.
They've let him stand till Midsummer's day, till he looked both pale and wan.
And little Sir John's grown a long, long beard and so become a man.
They've hired men with the scythes so sharp, to cut him off at the knee,
They've rolled him and tied him by the waist, serving him most barbarously.
They've hired men with the sharp pitchforks, who pricked him through the heart
And the loader, he has served him worse than that, for he's bound him to the cart.
They've wheeled him around and around a field, till they came unto a barn,
And there they made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn
They've hired men with the crab-tree sticks, to cut him skin from bone,
And the miller, he has served him worse than that, for he's ground him between two stones.
And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass
And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
The huntsman, he can't hunt the fox nor so loudly to blow his horn,
And the tinker, he can't mend kettle nor pots without a little barley corn
"John Barleycorn" is an English folksong The character of John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important crop barley, and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whiskey. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation.
I like the song and can play it (badly) on my acoustic guitar. This is my representation of it. He currently looks out of my back door into my garden. I hope you like it?
Dave July 2009