Brother John (Jim Payne & Kelly Russell)

See also: Brother John (Daniel Payne)

First when I come in the world
my troubles they began,
Because I had a brother John
who proved to be me twin;
We looked so very much alike
you couldn't tell one from the other,
And often I would take the blame
for lookin' like me brother.

Now, Johnny was a rascal,
he proved to be a crook,
One night upon the road
he stole a lady's pocketbook;
And after he had taken it
he took to his heels and ran,
And when they saw me passin' by
they said I was the man.

The cops pulled up 'long side me
and off to jail I took,
Aha! You are the man
who stole the lady's pocketbook;
I said, you are mistaken, sirs,
you've got me in the wrong,
I said, you are mistaken, sirs,
you've taken me for John.

Now, one night John got drunk,
came home to go to bed,
He went to turn the gas off
but he turned it on instead;
When we came down next morning
the lock was on the door,
There was poor old John,
he lay dead upon the floor.

We put him in a pine box
and put him on a horse,
To take him to the cemetery
to bury him with remorse;
The box fell off, the horse ran on,
we didn't miss him gone,
But when they saw me at the grave
they said that I was John.

The undertaker grabbed me
and he said you must behave,
You must not kick, you know you're dead,
you must go in your grave;
They put me in a pine box,
and I hollered like a bugger,
And then they buried me underground
for lookin like me brother.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland comic ballad recorded by Kelly Russell and Jim Payne (Pigeon Inlet Productions, 1981) ....####
See more songs by Jim Payne.

See more songs by Kelly Russell.

A variant was also recorded as Brother John by Daniel Payne from Cow Head on The Northern Peninsula (Chain, trk#8, 2008, DOP productions, Corner Brook, NL, recorded and mastered by Paul MacDonald in St Ann's Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia).

Two slightly different variants were collected in 1951 from Thomas (Tom) Finlay [1885-?] of St Shott's and Cyril O'Brien [ca.1902-?] of Trepassey, NL, published as The Twins in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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