John Barleycorn [Sir?]


Saturday 21st September 2013.

John Barleycorn” is a British folksong. The character of John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important cereal crop barley and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting. [via Wiki]


The picture above is of the Sir John Barleycorn public house, Wiki says that the character is fiction, but while being a citizen of the forest and living not too far away, we, forester that is,  were led to believe stories that Sir John Barleycorn had something to do with King Rufus. Of course nothing can be found to verify this. It is therefore nice to actually believe it as part of forest tales. The lyric of the song varies so much over the years so it is possible the songs will have different verses. This pub is in Cadnam, New Forest, and just up the road about a mile was where King Rufus was killed, and another pub called Sir Walter Tyrell. They both have distant links. Below I have put three versions of the song a traditional version and a couple of more modern. I did find quite a few more but opted for these as a good representation.

I love this Stevie Winwood version and his old bands version from the 70’s.

This Joe Walsh is brilliant, slightly unusual, but great.

And of course had to put a more traditional version. Hoping it will give you all a good view to the song itself.




3 responses »

  1. Interesting historical background. I remember the song but never knew the details behind it. I loved hearing Steve Winwood sing this again and also enjoyed Joe Walsh’s more Celtic-sounding version. Sadly, the video in between is no longer available.


    • Thank you Lindy, much appreciate your visit and comment, and pointing out the missing video, I have checked it on you tube and it seems to be removed, it was an acoustic only voice choir of the song.. probably how it was originally sung in its original state. welcome and appreciated… watch this space for more..

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