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There was an old couple lived under the hill
And Blunt it was their name-o
They had good beer and ale for to sell
And it bore a wonderful fame-o

John Blunt and his wife, they drank of the drink
Until they could drink no more-o
They both got tired, and they went up to bed
And forgot to bar the door-o

So they a bargain, bargain made
Made it strong and sure-o
The first of them should speak the first word
Should get up and bar the door-o

So there came travellers travellers three
Travelling in the night-o
No house, no home no fire had they
Nor yet no candle light-o

They went to his cellar they drank up his drink
Till they could drink no more-o
But never a word did the old couple speak
For fear who should bar the door-o

They went to his larder, they ate up his food
Till they could eat no more-o
But never a word did the old couple speak
For fear who should bar the door-o

They went upstairs, they went to his room
They broke down the door-o
But never a word did the old couple speak
For fear who should bar the door-o

They hauled his wife all out of the bed
Laid her out on the floor-o
Then up got poor John Blunt in his bed
For he could stand no more-o

Says: "You've eaten me food and drunk all my drink
Laid my wife on the floor-o"
"You spoke the first word, John Blunt," she said
"So go down and bar the door-o"

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Source: Martin Carthy - A Guitar in Folk Music

This version was sung by Martin Carthy on his album 'Shearwater'

Noted by Child as number 275: 'Get Up and Bar the Door'

There is a version at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

John Blunt (1785 Douce Prints S 9 (p. 208). The Bodleian site also provides a midi file of the tune from the broadside.

There are a couple of examples in the Digital Tradition:

JOAN AND JOHN BLOUNT (A pretty much identical text from Newfoundland)



Martin Carthy's notes from the original issue of Shearwater (PEG Records PEG 12, 1972):

"Lord Randall and John Blunt must be among the more widespread story-ideas in the folk consciousness, the stories remaining more or less the same and varying according to locale and-or the individual imagination of whoever sings them. Variations on the idea of John Blunt range from the Arabian tale where the new husband wins the argument with his bride when she pleads for his life as he is about to be executed for insolence in refusing to answer police questions, to another which has hemp-eating robbers arguing over who shall shut the gate of the vault in which they habitually gorge themselves. Nothing quite so extreme here, but would-be rapists and burglars might take note."

The analogues mentioned are discussed at greater length in Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, vol.5. Carthy doesn't say where he got his set, but it appears to be that noted by H.E.D. Hammond from Mrs. Seale in Dorchester Union, Dorset, December 1906, with the text re-written in some places, and probably shouldn't be considered a traditional variant. Mrs. Seale's set was printed in Marrowbones, ed. Frank Purslow; EFDS Publications, 1965.

Unfortunately, neither of the DT files mentioned credits any source. The Newfoundland set is actually quoted from Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland, E.B. Greenleaf and Y. Mansfield, 1933, where it appeared without a tune. The Scottish text is Child's version 275C, which was contributed to Johnson's Scots Musical Museum by Robert Burns. The tune is in Bronson, Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads.

The broadside edition referred to above was published Feb. 1. 1785. by J. Wallis, No. 16, Ludgate Street, London. There are others:

John Blunt. A new song Printer and date unknown. Johnson Ballads 2597.

The barrin' o' the door Printed between 1863 and 1885 by H.P. Such, Machine Printer and Publisher ... 177, Union Street ...[London] Printer's Series: (675): Harding B 16(15c). This is a Scottish text, essentially the same as Child 275A (from Herd, The Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, 1769, p. 330; and Pinkerton, Select Scottish Ballads, 1783, II, 150).

Roud: 115 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 275

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