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Johnny Got His Gun

Posted by Henry on August 16, 2003

In Reply to: When Johnny Comes Marching Home posted by GPP 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

: 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?

It's a well known song. Here's a reference from a thread on the Mudcat Cafe;

Subject: RE: When Johnnie comes marching home
From: Abby Sale
One of the strongest results-of-war-plus-bureaucracy books ever written, I think, was based on the Irish song. "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo. In 1971 he directed & screen-wrote the movie of the same name.