MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

The Twins

Tom Findlay NFLD 2 Tape 16 Track 5
St. Shott's Audio:
Comic Song

When first l came into this world, my trouble it did begin
I had a little brother, John, to me he was a twin.

We looked so very much alike, you couldn't tell one from the other
Offtimes l got the blame of things that was done by my brother.

Oh, Johnny, he grew bow-legged, was inclined to be a crook
One night upon the street he stole a lady's pocketbook.

And l, by chance, was standing there when Johnny escaped and ran
The policemen therefore picked me up they said l was the man.

They picked me up into their arms and to the jail they took
They said, "You robbed a lady, she did describe your looks."

I said, "It must be brother John, we look like one another."
The judge said, "I’ll give you six months for looking like your brother."

Oh, Johnny came home one night being drunk and tumbled into bed
We thought he turned the gas off, he blew it out instead.

Next morning as they were calling John, no sound from him was heard
The door was locked, they broke it in, he lay dead in the bed.

Next day they held a burial, they took him on the hearse
And hurried him off to the burial grounds, his body to disperse.

They drove so fast, the corpse came off, they did not miss him gone
But when they got to the burial grounds, there stood his brother Tom.

They picked me up into their arms, saying, "Johnny, you must behave.
You know you're dead, you must not kick, you must go in your grave."

They nailed me up into a box, l hollered and bawled for mother
But she could not get us apart, l was buried for my brother.


Sources : From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Halpert, H. MUNFLA 68-44; Sutton, Edward MUNFLA 72-266.

Text:   One twin is arrested for his brother's thievery and sentenced to six months.   His twin dies when he falls asleep with the gas on.   When the body is lost on the way to the funeral, the first twin is buried in his place.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The last word is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing, a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is 4/4. The key is F major with an octave range based on C.

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