Johnny Be Fair

from by Debra Cowan

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(trad. arr. Cowan)

I first heard this from the late folklorist David Ingle. This is an old Irish joke that somehow found it’s way into a song. Buffy Saint Marie recorded a version of this long ago with a few more verses. This version gets right to the point.

lyrics

O Johnny be fair and Johnny be good
And he wants me for to wed
And I would have married Johnny
But me father up and said
I hate to tell you daughter,
But your mother never knew
That Johnny he’s a son of mine
And so is kin to you

O, Willie be fair and Willie be good
And he wants me for to wed
And I would have married Willie
But me father up and said
I hate to tell you daughter,
But your mother never knew
That Willie he’s a son of mine
And so is kin to you

Jimmy be fair and Jimmy be good
And he wants me for to wed
And I would have married Jimmy
But me father up and said
I hate to tell you daughter,
But your mother never knew
That Jimmy he’s a son of mine
And so is kin to you

So I went home to me mother
And I hung me head in shame
Of all the lads in the village,
I couldn’t change me name
My mother said “If your father knew,
It’s me he’d surely kill
For your father’s not your father,
So marry whom you will”

credits

from The Long Grey Line, released January 23, 2001
Vocal: Debra Cowan

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about

Debra Cowan Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Singer Debra Cowan performs a cappella and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of folk songs. Debra has two acclaimed solo recordings to her credit, and her third, “Fond Desire Farewell” was produced by former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks. A former California resident, she now resides in Massachusetts and tours all over North America and the United Kingdom. ... more

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