Macabre Media: John Barleycorn by Steve Winwood & Stephen King’s ancestry.


Here it is, the first of September, the end of Labor day weekend. There will still be hot summery days, and thunderstorms, but harvest season has come. In that spirit, I’d like to share a harvest song:

Here are the traditional lyrics of this British folk song which pre-dates the 17th century:

There were three men coming out of the west
their fortunes for to try
and these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn should die.
They ploughed him in
they harrowed him in
threw clods all over his head.
And these three men they swore and vowed:
John Barleycorn was dead.

They let him lie for a very long time
till rain from heaven did fall.
And little Sir John sprung up his head
and so amazed them all.
They let him stand till midsummer’s day
he looked both pale and wan.
And little Sir John’s grown a long long beard
and so became a man.

They hired men with the scythes so sharp
to cut him off at knee.
They rolled him and tied him ’round the waist
and served him barbarously.
Then they sent men with pitchforks strong
to pierce him through the heart.
And the loader served him worse than that
for he’s bound him to a cart.

They hired men with crab-tree sticks
to cut him skin from bone
the miller served him worse than that
and ground him between two stones.
And little Sir John and the dark brown bowl
and he’s brandy in the glass
and little Sir John and the dark brown bowl
grew the strongest man at last.


Stephen King will be featured on PBS’s celebrity ancestry research show, Finding Your Roots.  His episode – the first of the season – is In Search of Our Fathers, and it will air Tuesday, September 23rd at 8/7c.

As usual, I’ll give you a heads-up a little closer to the broadcast on my Twitter / Facebook / G+ feed.