Episode #3366

John Barleycorn & Other Folksongs

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hear new versions of old English folksongs on this New Sounds.  Listen to several dramatic takes of the traditional English song "John Barleycorn (Must Die)," which might be as old as the 1300's, and was popularized by the band Traffic. The song tells the story of the grain from planting to harvest and beyond, including the making of sweet ale. There's also the traditional tune that tells the adulterous tale of "Matty Groves," also known as "Little Musgrave."

Plus, the traditional song "Little Margaret," a twisted tale of a broken-hearted lass who makes an appearance as a ghost in the bridal chamber of her sweet William to ask him how he likes the new bride for whom he threw her over.

PROGRAM #3366, John Barleycorn & Other English Folksongs (8/15/2012)                                                          





Martin Carthy w/ Dave Swarbrick

Byker Hill

John Barleycorn [3:00]

Topic Records TSCD 342
Download from or


John Barleycorn (Must Die)

John Barleycorn (Must Die) [6:26]

Universal Distribution #90772
(Most recent reissue)
Download from iTunes, eMusic, or Amazon.

Steeleye Span

the Journey

John Barleycorn [4:54]

Park #52
Download from iTunes, eMusic, or Amazon.

The Revels

The Wild Mountain Thyme

John Barleycorn Is a Hero Bold [1:59]

Revels Inc.  #CD-1094
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Coope, Boyes & Simpson

The Rough Guide to English Folk

John Barleycorn [4:14]

World Music Network  #1261
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Various Artists: Horses of the Gods

John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica

John Barleycorn [3:56]

2012 Cold Spring

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Knights of the Occasional Table

John Barleycorn 2000

John Barleycorn [11:25]

Middle Earth  #10
Download from iTunes, eMusic, or Amazon.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Dona Got A Ramblin Mind

Little Margaret [2:07]

Music Maker #76 
OR download from iTunes, eMusic, or Amazon.

Fairport Convention

Liege and Lief

Matty Groves, excerpt  [5:00]

Most recently issued on Island Records #60075326727
Or download from iTunes, eMusic, or Amazon.

The Knitters (aka X)  

The Modern Sounds of the Knitters

Little Margaret [3:05]

Zoe / New Rounder / Zoë Records - #ZOE 1057


Comments [2]

Denise said it all-I can only add that these shows just keep getting better and better!

Aug. 16 2012 02:32 PM
Denise from New York, NY

Fabulous show -- a real treat to hear these two songs -- John Barleycorn and Matty Groves -- in their various manifestations (great to hear Fairport Convention and Traffic especially) -- and your comments enriched the experience of them as old, old folksongs of longstanding attraction up through the present day. Thank you for elucidating the role of Martin Carthy in the music of the '60s and 70s and for confirming that "John Barleycorn" is indeed about the transformation of grain for intoxicating drink--basically--and not something more horrible!

John Schaefer is a rarity--his breadth of musical understanding and investigative embrace of so many musical forms in "New Sounds" is a remarkable contribution--simultaneously educative and entertaining.

Aug. 16 2012 12:21 AM

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