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This is a traditional English folk song. It has been performed and adapted by many over the years. The lyrics actually describe the process of growing barley to make alcohol, but in a very dark way.


"John Barleycorn" as performed by A.L. Lloyd

There was three men come out of the west
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn should die.
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in,
Throwed clods upon his head.
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn was dead.

They let him lie for a very long time
Till the rain from heaven did fall,
And little Sir John sprung up his head
And that amazed them all.
They let him stand till midsummer
And he growed both pale and wan.
Then little Sir John, he growed a long beard
And so become a man.

They hired men with the scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee.
And poor little Johnny Barleycorn
They served most barbarously.
They hired men with the sharp pitchforks
To pierce him to the heart.
And the loader, he served him worse than that
For he bound him to the cart.

They wheeled him all around the field,
A prisoner to endure,
And in the barn poor Barleycorn
They laid him upon the floor.
They hired men with the crab tree sticks
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller, he served him worse than that
For he ground him between two stones.

"I'll make a boy into a man,
A man into an ass.
I'll change your gold to silver, lass,
And your silver into brass.
I'll make the huntsman hunt the fox
With never a hound or horn.
I'll bring the tinker into gaol!"
Says old John Barleycorn.

Oh barley wine is the choicest drink
That was ever drunk on land.
It will make a man do miracles
By the turning of his hand.
You can tip your brandy in a glass,
Your whiskey in a can,
But barley corn and his nut-brown ale
Will prove the stronger man.