When Johnny Rewrites A Folk Song

Everybody knows the song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”. If you don’t, this ain’t the place to find out about it so come back later once you have some idea of what I’m talking about. Some say it was based on an Irish folk song, some say it wasn’t, but I am not here to settle the great debate. If anything, I’d rather pour gasoline on it because I like to watch things burn.

Anyhow, said Irish folk song, “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye”, is also about a dude named Johnny coming back from war, but unlike its fellow, this one is a whole lot darker. Johnny comes back missing all sorts of things, like limbs, a future, and his general dignity. It’s a lot more realistic than a bunch of dang Yankees singing about how instantly wonderful things will be once everybody gets back home.

It might be a good song, but naturally I cannot leave well enough alone, so I decided to rewrite the darn thing. Something about comparing poor Johnny to an armless, boneless, chickenless egg just riled me up in all the wrong ways. Johnny deserves better. #JusticeForJohnny

Moving on.

If you think that I don’t take every opportunity to sing this plaintively to my cat when no one else is around, then you would be wrong.


When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah, hurrah
When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah, hurrah
When Johnny comes marching home again
We’ll throw the welcome door open then
For war is where boys become men
When Johnny comes marching home.

Oh what is your life now after the war?
Haroo, haroo
Oh what is your life now after the war?
Haroo, haroo
Oh what is your life now after the war?
Terribly changed from all that before.
You’re not my sweet, shy boy anymore
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

Oh where is the smile I knew so well?
Haroo, haroo
Oh where is the smile I knew so well?
Haroo, haroo
Oh where is the smile I knew so well?
Somewhere lost in all that hell
In the firing of guns and exploding of shells.
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

Oh where are the legs with which you ran?
Haroo, haroo
Oh where are the legs with which you ran?
Haroo, haroo
Oh where are the legs with which you ran
When first you ran to carry a gun?
And now your dancing days are done.
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

I was to be your bonny bride
Haroo, haroo
I was to be your bonny bride
Haroo, haroo
I was to be your bonny bride
But now you are so cold inside.
You had no comfort for me when I cried.
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

The funeral bells, they toll for thee
Haroo, haroo
The funeral bells, they toll for thee
Haroo, haroo
The funeral bells they toll for thee
They were to be wedding bells for me
But you and I shall never be
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye. 

I think it best I leave you here
Haroo, haroo
I think it best I leave you here
Haroo, haroo
I think it best I leave you here
Among the anger and the fear
My Johnny boy, you are so dear
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah, hurrah
When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah, hurrah
When Johnny comes marching home again
He leaves behind all that has been
And he must face the grief and sins
When Johnny comes marching home. . .
(Photo credit: Pexels.com)

~TheTexasLass

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