> John Kirkpatrick > Songs > No, John

No John, No / No, Sir, No

[ Roud 146 ; Ballad Index R385 ; Wiltshire Roud 146 ; trad.]

Emily Sparkes sang No, Sir, No to John Howson in Rattlesden, Suffolk, in 1958/59. This recording was included in 1993 on the Veteran cassette and in 2009 on the Veteran CD Many a Good Horseman. John Howson commented:

Cecil Sharp collected a version of O No, John and it was published in Folk Songs from Somerset in 1908. It was republished in Novello's School Songs and in Vol. 2 of the Selected Edition of English Folk Songs in 1921. As a result, Sharp's version, albeit with altered words to make it suitable for schoolchildren, became one of the most well known songs in the country. The song has been widely collected and appears in other forms often called Ripest Apples or Twenty, Eighteen. Emily's version is slightly truncated, with no mention of tying the garter or the couple actually making it to bed, but for the full story listen to Sam Larner on Now Is the Time for Fishing.

Sam Larner sang No Sir, No Sir at home in Winterton, Norfolk, to Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1959-60. This recording was published in 1961 on his Folkways album Now Is the Time for Fishing. The accompanying booklet commented:

My Man John, Twenty Eighteen and No, John are all related to this somewhat bawdy piece. More distant relatives are those singing games, The Keys of Heaven and Lady on the Mountain. The most closely related versions, however, are American, Uh-uh, No and Merchant's Daughter, which latter was recorded for Folkways by the Stoneman family and bears an uncanny similarity in text and tune to that in this album.

Bob and Ron Copper of Rottingdean, Sussex, sang No, John, No in a recording made by Peter Kennedy on the anthology Songs of Courtship (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 1; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968). And John, Bob and Ron Copper sang No, John, No in 1971 on the Copper Family's Leader album A Song for Every Season.

Roy Bailey sang No Sir No in 1971 on his eponymous Trailer album Roy Bailey.

Jean Redpath sang No, Sir on her 1976 Trailer album There Were Minstrels.

John Kirkpatrick and Maggie Goodall sang No John in 1984 on the album The Old Songs.

Crucible sang Fair Maid Walking (No Sir No) in 2005 on their WildGoose CD Crux. They commented in their liner notes:

Gav[in Davenport] remembers hearing his dad sing this song when he was young, and this version comes from the singing of Steve Gardham of Hull. The girl in the song is smart enough to use her “no means no” to get exactly what she wants.

Gavin Davenport sang No Sir No! also with the Albion Band in 2011 on their EP Fighting Room.

Lyrics

Emily Sparkes sings No, Sir, No

Tell me one thing, tell me truly
Tell me why you scorn me so,
Tell me why, when asked a question,
You will always answer ‘No’.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
No sir, no sir, no sir, no-oh-oh-oh
No sir, no sir, no sir, no.

My father was a Spanish merchant,
And before he went away,
He told me to be sure and answer,
‘No’ to all that you should say.

If while walking in the garden,
Plucking flowers all wet with dew,
Tell me, wouldn't you be offended
If I pluck-ed one for you?

And if while walking in the garden,
I should ask you to be mine,
Tell me would you be offended.
Would you then my heart decline?

John, Bob and Ron Copper sing No, John

On yonder hill there lives a lady
But her name I do not know,
I'll go and court her for her beauty,
Whether she answers yes or no.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
No John no, no John no,
No John, no John, no John no!

She is a fair and handsome creature
And to woo her I will go.
I will ask her if she'll be my true love,
Will she answer yes or no?

If when walking in the garden
Plucking flowers all wet with dew,
Tell me will you be offended
If I walk and talk with you?

Tell me one thing tell me truly,
Tell me why you scorn me so,
Tell me why, when asked a question
That you always answer No?

My father was a Spanish merchant
And before he went to sea,
He told me to be sure to answer
No to all you said to me,

And if when walking in the garden
I should ask you to be mine,
If I tell you that I love you
Would you then my love decline?

John Kirkpatrick and Maggie Goodall sing No, John

On yonder hill there stands a creature
Who she is I do not know;
I'll go and court her for her beauty,
She must answer yes or no.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Oh, no, John, no John,
No, John, no!

On her bosom are bunches of posies,
On her breast where flowers grow.
If I should chance to touch that posy
She must answer yes or no.

Madam, I am come for to court you
If your favour I can gain.
Come and sat yourself down alongside me
I fear I should never see you again.

My husband he was a Spanish captain,
Went to sea a month ago.
The very last time that we kissed and parted
Bid me always answer “No!”

Madam, in your face is beauty,
In your bosom flowers grow,
In your bedroom there is pleasure,
Shall I view it? Yes or no.

Madam, shall I tie your garter,
Tie it a little above your knee?
If my hand should slip a little farther,
Would you think it amiss of me?

My love and I went to bed together,
There we lay till the cocks did crow;
Unclose your arms, my dearest jewel,
Unclose your arms and let me go.