Saturday, May 3, 2014

Mamma Told Johnny Not to Go Downtown (USMC Cadence with lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the United States Marine Corp cadence "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown".

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

Thanks to the military corps men and women who honorably serve this country. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and those who are who are featured in this YouTube sound file.

From Malibu, October 30, 2010
..."Navy OCS [Officer Candidate School) is not only run by Marine Corps Drill Instructors, but the best ones they have.

..."When we'd run cadence, feet hitting the ground every 3/4 of a second with precision screaming about killing someone halfway around the really felt like you could take on the world; and win...

Some of them are funny, others are terribly motivating but there is one in particular that is quite beautiful, and in this version one can actually hear the emotion of the Drill Instructor's voice while he and the men chant is moving down the road. In its entirety: (The first verse is interwoven after every verse)

Lo Right, Lo Right, Leeeeefta
Lo Right, Lo Right, Leeeeefta
Lo Righty, Lo Righty, Lo Righty Lefta

Mamma told Johnny not to go downtown
The Marine Corps recruiter was hanging around;

But Johnny went downtown anyway
To hear what the recruiter had to say

The recruiter asked Johnny what he wanted to be
Johnny said I wanna join the infantry.

So Johnny caught a plane out to Vietnam,
To fight some people called the Viet Cong.

Killed a hundred men with his rifle and blade,
Only god knows how many lives he saved.

Johnny was bad and he was brave,
Johnny jumped on a hand grenade.

Saved the lives of the men he led,
But now poor Johnny he was dead.

Before he died this is what he said,
To tell his momma when he was dead

Momma, momma, don't u cry,
The Marine Corps motto is Semper Fi.

Singin' Lo Right, Lo Right, Leeeeefta
Lo Right, Lo Right, Leeeeefta
Lo Righty, Lo Righty, Lo Righty Lefta

It is beautiful, touching and it almost makes me cry every time I listen to it. I think about Johnny's mom crying over his grave when she is handed a folded flag. About the Honor Guard firing three times in precision. About how that took place countless times throughout the years."...
Added May 30, 2017:
This may be the standard words that are used for the Marine Corps cadence "Mama told Johnny not to go downtown". However, click for a US Army version of this cadence which has very similar words.

Here's a comment exchange from that sound file's discussion thread:
"YakuzaYue, 2016
"Wasn't this orgianlly a Marine Corps cadence?"

Jake H, 2016
"YakuzaYue they are all interchangeable.. every service has their own version of almost any Jodie you can think of these days"

Also, on May 29, 2017 (Memorial Day} when I searched pancocojams for military cadences that I had featured, I revisited this post and realized the initial video was no longer available. When I went to YouTube looking for another video of this cadence to embed in this post, I happened upon this much longer version of that cadence which was published in 2013 by Danny Brandt and credited to TheScribe114 on YouTube. The Scribe144" wrote a comment in this video's discussion thread identifying himself as MSgt McCants USMC Ret. and indicating that he "Wrote this back in 1988 in Okinawa at 9th MTBN." The photograph with The Scribe144's comment is of a Black man.

I plan to showcase that version in a separate pancocojams post and I'll add that link to this post. However, for the folkloric record, I'll note here that TheScribe114's version of "Mama Told Johnny Not To Go Downtown" includes a number of strung together couplets (two line rhyming or near rhyming verses) in addition to some of the standard words for that cadence. Here's an excerpt of that version of "Johnny Told Mama Not To Go Downtown" (The verses are written with three couplets strung together in each of the verses.)


"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"


SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: MAMA Told johnny not to go downtown

MrIlovecallofdutymw2, Uploaded on Dec 17, 2010

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