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JOHNNY ARMSTRONG. AKA and see "Johnny Armstrong's Farewell," "Todlin' Hame," "Toddlin' Hame," "Bacach," "Robie Donua Gorach," "Wagoner's Lad (The)," "Clinch Mountain," "Cuckoo (5) (The)," "Rye Whiskey (1)," "Jack of Diamonds (1)," "My Name is Dick Kelly," "Drunken Hiccups (1)." English, Waltz. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part: AB (Manson). The tune has proved strenuous, and has survived in many forms and variants as a vocal and instrumental air in the British Isles and America (see notes for Daft Robin and Earl Douglas's Lament). The original and ancient ballad (printed by Johnson in the Scots Musicial Museum) is about a Borders reiving clan and begins:
Some spieks of lords, some spieks of lairds,
And sicklyke men of hie degree,
Of a gentleman I sing a sang,
Sometime called laird of Gilnockie.
The melody is similar to "Johnny Armstrong's Dance," which appears in Stenhouse's collection (although in a simpler and perhaps earlier form). The melody is a variant of the widespread Anglo-American tune family that includes "Old Head of Denis (The)," "Rock Island Line," "Kennet's Dream," and numerous other ballads, hymns and airs (see note for Kennet's Dream for a portion of Cazden et al's discussion of the tune, or see their entry in Folk Songs of the Catskills, 1982, No. 93, for the extensive three-page analysis). It was later used by Robert Burns in Johnson's Scots Musicial Museum for Child 169 "Johnny Armstrong" the ditty "Todlin Hame" (Cazden, et al, 1982).
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 4), 1792; p. 367. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book, vol. 2), 1853; p. 67. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 134.
See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources