FRANKIE & JOHNNY

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

FRANKIE & JOHNNY

Frankie and Johnny” (sometimes spelled “Frankie and Johnnie”; also known as “Frankie
and Albert” or just “Frankie”) is a traditional American popular song. It tells the story of a
woman, Frankie, who finds her man Johnny “making love to” another woman and shoots
him dead. Frankie is then arrested; in some versions of the song she is also executed. The
first published version of the music to “Frankie and Johnny” appeared in 1904, credited
to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of Won’t You Come Home Bill
Bailey“; the piece, a variant version of whose melody is sung today, was titled “He Done
Me Wrong” and subtitled “Death of Bill Bailey”. Another variant of the melody, with
words and music credited to Frank and Bert Leighton, appeared in 1908 under the title
“Bill You Done Me Wrong”; this song was republished in 1912 as “Frankie and Johnny”,
this time with the words that appear in modern folk variations.
Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts
But he was doin’ her wrong
He was doin’ her wrong in a bad way
But she was good and strong
He was her man, but he was a jerk
Was in a hotel with Nellie Blye
And the gun went rooty-toot-toot
Shot the bastard in the heart
And ruined his nice suit
He was her man, but he was no damn good
So they took him up to the graveyard
And stuck him in the dirt
Which was oh-so very sad,
And a waste of a nice clean shirt
He was her man, but he was doin’ her wrong
He had no idea what happened
He was waving hello to God
He died from eating squirrel,
And they laid him in the sun
He was her man, but he was doin’ her wrong
So that was Frankie and Johnny
And that’s the end of my song
She put a hose in his tailpipe
‘Cause he had done her wrong
He was her man, and that’s all she wrote