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When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Posted by GPP on August 16, 2003

In Reply to: Re: We hardly knew ye posted by R. Berg on August 16, 2003

: : This more a question of origins than of meaning.

: : "(deceased person), we hardly knew ye"

: : I've seen it all over the place, but the only reference that comes to mind was on a Simpsons where Troy McClure does his riff: "You may remember me from such films as 'Andre the Giant: We Hardly Knew Ye'...".

: : Of course this same phrase pops up frequently in jest, but can anyone find where this first became popularized? Or at the very least a reference pre-dating Simpsons?

: It comes from an old Irish antiwar song, "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye." Click on link below (or http://www.instantknowledgenews.com/johnny.htm ).

Thanks, R.Berg, for this useful link, which also includes "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", a song from the American Civil War. At some time perhaps 10 years ago I heard a wonderful version of this latter song being sung first in a sprightly, enthusiastic, patriotic manner, and then ironically, as a mournful dirge. It must have been some movie that I saw, with it used in the soundtrack; but I've never been able to locate the source again. Does this ring a bell with anyone?