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John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquaint,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And mony a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither;
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go.
And we'll sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

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Source: J Greig, Scots Minstrelsie, Vol 1, 1893

Taken from Scots Minstrelsie.
Burns wrote these lyrics and the result is an song that is pleasant enough but in my view somewhat ordinary. However, it is supposed to based on an older set of lyrics that are extraordinary and to my mind make a vastly better song, though they are often regarded as bawdy - wrongly in my view: I see them as explicit but appropriate. There cannot be many songs which address male impotency compassionately - I find it hard to imagine a heavy metal song on the subject, for example!

There are several versions of the other set of lyrics floating around: these are taken from Sedley's Seeds of Love (sorry, Malcolm!), which he says is the 1827 one "collated with three earlier variants."

John Anderson my jo, John,
I wonder what you mean
To rise so soon in the morning
And sit so late at e'en
You'll blear out all your eyne, John
And why will you do so?
Come sooner to your bed at e'en
John Anderson my jo.

John Anderson my jo John
When first that you began
You had as good a tail-tree
As any other man,
But now it's waxen wan John
And wrinkles to and fro
And oft requires my helping hand
John Anderson my jo.

When we were young and yauld John
We've lain out o'er the dyke
And o it was a fine thing
To feel your hurdies fyke
To feel your hurdies fyke John
And strike the rising blow
It's then I liked your chanter-pipe
John Anderson my jo.

John Anderson my jo John
You're welcome when you please
It's either in the warm bed
Or else upon the claeths
Do you your part aboon John
And trust to me below
I've two gae-ups for your gae-down
John Anderson my jo.

When you come on before John
See that you do your best
When I begin to hold you
See that you grip me fast
See that you grip me fast John
Until that I cry Oh!
Your back shall crack ere I do that
John Anderson my jo.

I'm sided like a salmon
I'm breasted like a swan
My wyme is like a down-cod
My middle you may span
My skin from top to toe John
Is like the new-fa'n snow
And it's all for your conveniency
John Anderson my jo.

Roud: 6050 (Search Roud index at VWML)

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