When Your Old Woman Takes A Cramp In Her Craw (Johnny Burke) MIDI
midi1   alt: midi2

I'm a poor married man and I'm tired of my life,
Since I wed this old hay bag I called her my wife;
She does nothing all day, only sits down and cries,
I wish she was in Fox Trap or Seldom-Come-By.

Oh Doctor, oh Doctor, oh dear Doctor Jones,
Sure I'm gone to a thread
for I'm all skin and bones;
I feel now like taking a dozen good jags,
Since I'm tied down for life to this bundle of rags.

Oh a friend of my own came to see me one day,
He said your poor wife she's as thin as a flea;
He told me to give her a cup of old swoil,
And a cup full of fly hooks on cod liver oil.

She's fast putting on flesh,
now she's twelve stone or more,
Six feet in her stockings,
and the full of the door;
She's sleepy and lazy and as heavy as lead,
Now I must get a pitch fork to turn her in bed.

She's in bed half the day,
and the floors never scrub,
And legs like gumpheads
from the bare force of grub;
A firkin of sounds and a tub of goat's milk,
Is only a grog bit when she's in the pink.

My mind's so tormented, I'll cut through the gap,
What the neighbours might say,
sure I don't care a snap;
I may strike some old widow
well fixed with the dough,
I'll force her to take me if she likes me or no.

Now young man take a warning
when taking a wife,
Scuff clear of the hay bags to worry your life;
If you can't get the maiden your fancy to please,
Then grab sweet sixteen with
her skirts to her knees.

####.... Johnny Burke [1851-1930] of St John's, NL ....####
Published in Burke's Popular Songs, page 8, 1929, Long Brothers, printers, St John's, NL.

Also published with the title When Your Old Woman Takes A Cramp In Her Craw Give Her Cod Liver Oil in Burke's Ballads, p.17, c.1960, compiled by John White and archived at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Libraries, Centre For Newfoundland Studies - Digitized Books collection.

See more songs by Johnny Burke

Parody of a British broadside ballad, Dr. De Jongh's Cod Liver Oil, with no known publisher or date archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Firth b.34(89).

Excerpted from De-Burking Johnny Burke, An Excluded Canadian Troubadour by Paul Matthew St Pierre - One of Burke's most popular and enduring, and his personal favorite, this song is a parody of the popular nineteenth-century Irish song Cod Liver Oil. In it, Burke mimics the spirit of compassion and healing that marks the original ballad.

From The Free Dictionary:
Jags - ¹ bouts of drinking; ² periods of overindulgence in an activity; a spree: a shopping jag; a crying jag.

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Gap - opening in a fence; gate.
Gumphead - stout wooden pile protruding above a wharf to which vessels may be moored; similar mooring-post aboard a vessel; bollard, cleat.
Scuff - to steer clear of, away from.
Sounds - air bladders, or hydrostatic organs, of cod-fish, running along the inside of the spinal columns and controlling the fish's buoyancy, removed during splitting and salted for eating as a delicacy.
Strike - to come upon, reach.
Swoil - short for 'seal oil'.

From Wikipedia:
Firkin - old English unit of volume. For beer and ale a firkin is equal to nine imperial gallons, seventy-two pints, or a quarter of a barrel (40.91481 litres). Butter and soap used to be sold by the firkin, too. In these cases it was a measure of weight, instead of volume: e.g., 56 lb (25.4 kg) and 64 lb (29.0 kg) respectively.
Stone - unit of measure which, when it ceased to be legal for trade in United Kingdom in 1985, was defined in British legislation as being a weight or mass equal to 14 avoirdupois pounds (about 6.35 kilograms).


Index Page
GEST Songs Of
Newfoundland And Labrador


~ Copyright Info ~

~ Privacy Policy ~

Confirm Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Here