Friday 17 June 2011

11: Johnny Todd

This song was collected in the 19th century by Frank Kidson, who published it in his 1891 Traditional Tunes. His notes accompanying the song say: "Johnny Todd is a child's rhyme and game, heard and seen played by Liverpool children. The air is somewhat pleasing, and the words appear old, though some blanks caused by the reciter's memory have had to be filled up." It was apparently still known in Liverpool when Frank Shaw collected children's songs and rhymes for his 1970 book You know me Anty Nelly?

The tune is still engrained in the consciousness of the city. It was used as the theme for the 1960s police show "Z-Cars", which was filmed in the new town of Kirkby on the outskirts of Liverpool. The "Theme from Z-Cars" is now beloved to fans of Everton F.C., who adopted it for themselves, and it is played over the loudspeakers in Goodison Park when the teams run out onto the pitch.

The picture I've used above, which very fittingly depicts a lady standing on the Liverpool sands and looking out to sea, is a painting by the Liverpool-born Japan-based artist Brian Zichi Lorentz.

Johnny Todd is #1102 in the Roud Folksong index

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