Contains some strong language

John Anderson my Jo [alt]

John Anderson, my jo, John, I wonder what ye mean, To lie sae lang I' the mornin', And sit sae late at e'en? Ye'll bleer a' your een, John, And why do ye so? Come sooner to your bed at een, John Anderson, my jo. John Anderson, my jo, John, When first that ye began, Ye had as good a tail-tree, As ony ither man; But now it's waxen wan, John, And wrinkles to and fro; [I've t] wa gae-ups for ae gae-down, [John] Anderson, my jo. [I'm ba]ckit like a salmon, [I'm] breastit like a swan; My wame it is a down-cod, My middle ye may span: Frae my tap-knot to my tae, John, I'm like the new-fa'n snow; And it's a' for your convenience, John Anderson, my jo. O it is a fine thing To keep out o'er the dyke; But it's a meikle finer thing, To see your hurdies fyke; To see your hurdies fyke, John, And hit the rising blow; It's then I like your chanter-pipe, John Anderson, my jo. When ye come on before, John, See that ye do your best; When ye begin to haud me, See that ye grip me fast; See tha ye grip me fast, John, Until that I cry "Oh!" Your back shall crack or I do that, John Anderson, my jo. John Anderson, my jo, John, Ye're welcome when ye please; It's either in the warm bed Or else aboon the claes: Or ye shall hae the horns, John, Upon your head to grow; An' that's the cuckold's mallison, John Anderson, my jo.


Eileen McCallum

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It is read here by Eileen McCallum.

More about this song

The bawdy version of 'John Anderson My Jo' is a traditional folk song. Numerous versions of this song were already in circulation in the early to mid-eighteenth century.

The version of the bawdy song collected by Burns in The Merry Muses of Caledonia (1799) is known to have inspired Burns's famous song (a 'polite' variant) of the same name. This bawdy version, written from a female perspective, addresses the ageing sexual body and the decline of sexual vigour.

However, in stark contrast to Burns's extremely affectionate, 'polite' adaptation, it portrays a somewhat callous and unforgiving attitude towards the natural course of relationships, motivated by selfishness and individual sexual desire.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this song

love sex age

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