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Monday, May 29, 2017

MSgt McCants (USMC Ret) Version Of The Running Cadence "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases a variant form of the United States military cadence "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown". This example is credited to Master Sergeant McCants United States Marine Corps (USMC) Retired. MSgt McCants is also known on YouTube as "TheScribe114".

This post showcases a YouTube sound file of this United States Marine Corp cadence that includes the cadence's lyrics in its summary. This post also includes selected comments from this sound file's discussion thread

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and motivational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the original composer/s of the "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" cadence and thanks to Master Sergeant McCants for this version of that cadence. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

Thanks to all those who have honorably served and who are honorably serving in the United States Marine Corps and in other branches of the United States military.

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Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/05/mamma-told-johnny-not-to-go-downtown.html for a pancocojams post that showcases a text (word only) example and a video of the "standard" lyrics for the Marine Corps' cadence "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown".

Also, click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/05/examples-of-united-states-military_30.html for a pancocojams post that showcases several examples of the related cadence "Mama Told Sally Not To Go Downtown". My guess is that that cadence began as a variant form of "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown".

Note that United States military cadences are also known as "jodies". Most of the examples of "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" that I've read online are from the US Marine Corps. I've also read an example of this cadence from the US Army.

Also, note that some military cadences include sexual references and curse words (profanity). As per the policy of this blog- I use amended spelling for curse words or indicated that "profanity is deleted" (except for the words "damn" and "damned").

Click the "military cadences" tag below for additional examples of United States military cadences.

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SHOWCASE VIDEO & LYRICS - Marine Corps running cadence with lyrics



Danny Brandt, Published on Dec 14, 2013
-snip-
**Lyrics below** (might be spelled wrong, or interpreted wrong. I apologize if it is). Originally done by TheScribe114 on YouTube, go check him out

lo right, a lo righty a lay o
lo right, a lefty righty a lo
lo right, a lo righty a lay o
lo right, a lefty righty a lay lo

Momma told Johnny not to go down town
Marine Corps recruiter was hanging around

Suzy told Johnny go serve your nation
take a cab down to the MEPS station

lo right, a lo righty a lay o
lo right, a lo righty a lay o

Momma told Johnny not to go down town
Marine Corps recruiter was hanging around

Suzy's in the bedroom, Jodie's at the window
Johnny's got his bags and he's ready to go

put Johnny on a greyhound bus
then there came the bends and thrusts

Drill Instructors trained him rough and hard
They taught him to fight, they taught him to march

lo right, a lo righty a lay o
lo right, a lo righty a lay o

Momma told Johnny not to go down town
Marine Corps recruiter was hanging around

it was short but long it seemed
Johnny had earned the title Marine

Johnny survived like all the rest
Johnny got popped on a urine analysis

Johnny thought he was one in a million
a urine sample made him a civilian

lo right, a lo righty a lay o
lo right, a lo righty a lay o

Momma Told Johnny not to go downtown
Marine Corps recruiter was hanging around...

I had a pig and his name was Sam
Sunday he was bacon, on Monday he was ham

Grinding my Ka-bar in the barn
While my donkey runs the farm

Got a steer and his name was Jake
Tuesday he was burgers on Wednesday he was steak

Grinding my ka-bar in the barn
while my donkey runs the farm

bare with me 'cause this may sound sick
Gotta strip out some baby chicks

Me and my donkey gonna take a little trip
The Colonel's in need of some Crispy strips

lo righty lo righty lo righty lo
lefty right a lo, here we go

Got two roosters named larry and Lee
One's going to Church's the other KFC

Grinding my ka-bar in the barn
While my donkey runs the farm

Got some lamb and a couple of sheep
Gotta have gyros and mutton ain't cheap

I still grind my ax in the barn
while my donkey runs the farm

lo righty lo righty lo righty lo
lefty righty lo, righty lo, righty lo

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PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S COMMENTS ABOUT MILITARY CADENCES
[Revised May 30, 2017]

The United States military cadences that I've read or heard via YouTube use an "echo" call & response pattern. This call & response pattern is often found in African and African Diaspora vocal music. By "echo" call & response, I mean that the group (responders) repeat every line that the leader (caller) sings in exactly the same way that he (or she) sings those lines.

Some call & response cadences are composed of changeable rhyming and near rhyming couplets (two line rhyming or near rhyming verses) and a relatively fixed refrain (such as "lo right layo" ("left right left). The refrain may be sung at the beginning of the cadence, (and/or) at the end of the cadence, (and/or) after each rhyming or near rhyming couplet, or after a certain number of rhyming/or near rhyming couplets. But some call & response cadences have no fixed refrain, and only consists of the group exactly repeating each line that caller (leader) sings.

In this variant form of "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" these rhyming verses are made up of two, three, four, or six separate couplets that are given together and sung before the cadence's relatively fixed refrain. The refrain for this version of "Mama Told Johnny No To Go Downtown" is "lo righty lo righty lo righty lo lefty righty lo, righty lo, righty lo" ("Lo righty layo"= "left, right, left"). Also, notice that some of these couplets in this version of "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" don't necessarily have anything to do with being in the Marines.

The lyrics to this cadence that are written in this YouTube sound file's summary don't include a space between each couplet. I reformatted these lyrics to add a space after each rhyming/near rhyming couplet so that they would be more clearly seen. This doesn't mean that there is any space between how these lines are sung/chanted.

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SELECTED COMMENTS
These comments are from the discussion thread for the sound file that is given above. They are given in chronological order except for replies, with the oldest comment given first. I've added numbers for referencing purposes only.

2015
1. TheScribe114
"Well I'll be damned.......that's me!

Wrote this back in 1988 in Okinawa at 9th MTBN.

ENJOY!!! MSgt McCants USMC Ret."
-snip-
For the historical record, I'll note that the photograph that is given with TheScribe144's comment is of a Black man.

**
Reply
1. iXads Official
"Oorah, Master Sergeant. Oorah!"
-snip-
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oorah_(Marines)
"Oohrah is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. The term means "charge." It is comparable to hooah in the US Army and the US Air Force, and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of motivation."

**
2016
Reply
3. Michael Gibbs
"+TheScribe114 were you running when you did this or were you in a studio or something? dumb question?"

**
Reply
4. TheScribe114
"Studio, no one is going to follow us for 4-5 miles with a tape recorder."

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Reply
5. Paul Tayag
"+TheScribe114 that's one hell of a cadence song, thanks for writing it and Semper Fidelis!"

**
Reply
6. James White
"+TheScribe114 Early Discharge QUITE Honorably in Dec. '87, so We most likely chewed a lot of the same dirt, way back then, but BROTHER, I AM F&&KIN* LOVING THIS. SEMPER FI, I will be, With Your Permission, learn and tweak this for My Runners. eight , wanting to be back in shape blue-collar Ass-kickers from way back when, half are USMC BROTHERS, the rest are all Veterans. Oath-Keepers All, we call Ourselves the Retreads. Ready to go . At the drop of a Cover. OOOHRAH !"
-snip-
*This word was fully spelled out in this comment.
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semper_fidelis
"Semper fidelis is a Latin phrase that means "always faithful" or "always loyal". It is the motto of the United States Marine Corps usually shortened to Semper fi. It is also in use as a motto for towns, families, schools, and military units."...

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Reply
7. MisterTofu
"+TheScribe114 Was the singer you? Or are you just the writer?"

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Reply
8. TheScribe114
"BOTH"

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Reply
9. shadowtailsthewarrior, 2017
"well sir, you did very well with this one. thank you for this cadence and your service"

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Reply
[This comment was written in reply to a comment that criticized this CD for being fake because it was done in a studio. In particular, the person who wrote that critical comment took issue with the stomping sounds in the background of this tape.]

10. ocdarjar gm, 2016
...this is a Mst Srgt, the sounds in the back are from 4 Marines stomping their boots, it was made in Japan for a new cadence contest in 1985 ...
-snip-
*As per the policy of this blog, I deleted profanity from the beginning and the end of this comment.

"Mst Srgt" = Master Sergeant

**
shadowstranger100, 2016
11. "This is gonna be my jogging song. Keeps you motivated and takes your mind of fatigue.
Imma sing the cadence out loud i dont give a dam if im the only one jogging"

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[The following sub-section of comments refer to the meanings of some of the lines in this cadence, particularly to the lines about farm animals and/or "popping on a urine analysis".]

12. Julian Hess
"Can you tell me master Sgt. what was the backround on why you chose to say the last part with the "I had a pig and his name was sam"? was that supposed to be about the marine on what he did after he was dishonorable discharge or was it random?

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13. Zach Reaves
"im confused at the end about the kbar and barn part, can somone please explain the meaning behind it, also thank you for your service sir and lastly oorah, war on baby"

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Reply
14. Reece Dignan
"Zach Reaves
Either he is referring to spending a bit of time with Pam and her Five sisters.
Or
He's referring to the USMC standard knife/bayonet and how he's grinding (sharpening it) and you see can see what he dose with it."
-snip-
from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ka-Bar
"Ka-Bar (trademarked as KA-BAR) is the contemporary popular name for the combat knife first adopted by the United States Marine Corps in November 1942 as the 1219C2 combat knife (later designated the USMC Mark 2 combat knife or Knife, Fighting Utility), and subsequently adopted by the United States Navy as the U.S. Navy utility knife, Mark 2."...
-snip-
It's highly likely that "ka-bar" in this military cadence (also) has a sexualized meaning.

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15. Polaris F18
"Why did you say "the colonel is in need of some crispy strips"?"

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Reply
16. Jovan Gorgievski
"It's from a joke A Rooster walks on a street and he saw whole chickens being grilled. And he said wow girls you are striped and getting some ten in solarium."
-snip-
The word "grilled" here means "being cooked on a grill".

The word "ten" is probably a typo for "tan".

Notice that "Colonel" is both a military rank and a referent for "Colonel Sanders", the fictional character who is associated with the national American [and international] fast food chain "KFC" (Kentucky Fried Chicken).

**.
Reply
17. Kryptic Panda
"I believe that by the line "I had a pig and his name was Sam" and the follow up line showing how the Marines themselves can be versatile. Of course by "grinding my Ka-Bar in the barn", he is sharpening his Ka-Bar, which is the traditional USMC Combat Knife. By "while my donkey runs the farm" he is referring to those POGs whom run the Marine Corps, but with the grunts doing the majority of it. Same thing when he mentions the Steer (a castrated cow) and the line afterwards, meaning the Marines can practically be anywhere at a moments notice. Again, with the mention of the Ka-Bar, he implies that he is going to "ship out" some more Marines from boot camp, to bring the Colonel back some 'chicken' (enemies). Finally, with the roosters I presume he means that one will pass, and another will fail. With the lamb and the sheep part he could possibly be talking about the goat/sheep farmers in the middle east"
-snip-
This commenter and several others provided literal explanations for some of the "farm" verses in this post. However, I believe that these verses aren't necessarily intended to be taken literally or the words may have a literal meaning or more than one literal meaning and, simultaneously, sexual meaning/s. For instance, a reference to a rooster in a military cadence is likely to be a coded referent to a vernacular term for a male's body part.

**
18. John Valenti
"Johnny got popped on a urine analysis
Johnny thought he was one in a million
can someone explain this part"

**
Reply
19. Noah
"In any branch of the Military (International) you get tested for drugs, and he thought he wouldn't get found after he had drugs."

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Reply
20. Ricochet Gaming
"Marijuana."

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Reply
21. Hero Clan
"He failed his drug test and only a few are built to be Marines hence the "one in a million""

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Reply
22. Scali Bread
"Before bootcamp you take a drug test and they don't tell you your results until the end of bootcamp so if you tested positive for any drugs they will discharge you at the end of bootcamp, so it would be basically 13 weeks of hell for nothing..."

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Reply
23. Greg Andris
"They'll kick you out before any training occurs, they piss test everyone the first 2 days of boot camp and results are within days. They're not gonna waste time and money and knowledge on a drug pop. The one and only place its acceptable to pop on a piss test is at the recruiting station before going into MEPS or poole training."

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Reply
24. Colonel Teehee, 2017
"Moral of the story, don't do drugs..."

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25. BIlly the SMall Bong thorton from india
"first time we ran this in basic. i started laughing so damn hard when the instructor screamed "johnny got popped on a urine test" then we had to all stop while still laughing did 100 push ups. yeah for the next 48 hours i was forced to march while singing that till i stopped laughing at the part. still one of the best times i had while in the corp."
-snip-
I wonder whether the word "popped" in "popped a urine analysis" (drug test) has anything to do with the term "pop quiz", meaning a quiz that a teacher "pops" (surprises) her or his students with (without any forewarning.
snip-
This is the end of that sub-section of these selected comments.

**
26. 2027850
"Far cry from the cadences my platoon chanted They are historical considering the times, and NOT politically correct:...
-snip-
This comment concluded with a bawdy (dirty) cadence example.

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2017
27. Seth de Jesus
"Best variation of momma told johnny not to go downtown I've ever heard, hands down."

**
[This next comment is written in response to a commenter who wrote that singing this cadence helped him take his mind off of the pain of running and helped him run farther than he thought he could.]

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28. Thomas Kerekes
"shadowstranger100 you are absolutely correct. I was never able to do 2 and a half miles without stopping and yesterday I didnt even realize but I did close to 3 miles without stopping because of this cadence. This is the best cadence from all the branches so far"

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Reply
29. James B
"shadowstranger100 actually.....ANY cadence can do it.....but TY so much for choosing a USMC cadence.
That's the psychology of cadence's....you have nailed it....they take your mind off the fatigue & pain"

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Reply
30. David L
"James B Yes, same as the songs slaves sang in the fields. The rhythmic sound not only keeps you in rhythm, regulates breathing and keeps your mind of the pain. Seeing how the first cadence was by a black soldier just trying to lift the soldiers spirits as they were on a long march. The leaders saw how everyone went from dragging to snapping their step and keeping time. So the Duckworth Chant was born and incorporated into every branches marches. With slight variations. Thank you Pvt. Duckworth for your contribution."

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Reply
31. Jim Porter
"+David L, actually between the slaves in the fields and the black soldiers, there were the black railroad workers who maintained, straightened, and laid replacement track. Because the work was brutal even for strong men, the bosses learned, as their field boss counterparts before them, that they could keep the work going better by the use of cadence songs. The boss would sing, then use words like OOh, AHH. On the catch words Ooh, Ahh, the workers would make the necessary moves, usually straightening the tracks. So it was something like, "Sally, sally, don't you know? I can make your belly grow. Ooh! Ahh1." It just made for a break in the monotony of the work, and a little humor to keep the track workers' morale going."

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Reply
32. deadhead686
"They were called gandy dancers, they had to be in rythem to lay the railroad tracks properly."

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33. the sniper on the hill
"TheScribe114 I found u in a di cadence calling contest in San Diego"

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34. Linda Olivarez
"the song may be old but is still in the marine cadence songs"
-snip-
I don't know if this comment refers to the "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" cadence in general, or to this specific version of that cadence.

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35. Peter Asterino
"still sounds good 64 yrs after I left PI. Jarhead 1953"
-snip-
"Jarhead" is an acceptable colloquial referent for a Marine.

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36. American Hunter
"TheScribe114 I am a Staff Sergeant in the Army getting ready to be a Sergeant First Class, great cadence. Motivating. If you do not mind I am going to adopt it for my soldiers. Of course with changes"

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1 comment:

  1. I've been trying to think of what folk song the tune to the "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" reminds me of.

    I think its tune is very much like (if not the same as) a slow version of "Old Dan Tucker" ("Get out the way for old Dan Tucker/ He's too late to get his supper"..)

    Here's an instrumental sound file for "Old Dan Tucker" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSL6mTzKrd0&list=RDjSL6mTzKrd0.

    And here's a link for (what appears to be) the standard version of "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phFTHCIv_L4.

    Do you hear the similarities between this tune and the "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" cadence?

    If not, what song do you think that cadence's tune reminds you of?

    ReplyDelete