Frankie and Johnny - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Frankie and Johnny is an American song that is, apparently, based on a real late nineteenth century murder.  In October 1899, twenty-two year-old Frankie Baker, of St. Louis, shot her seventeen year-old boyfriend, Allen Britt, after he returned home from a dancing contest.  He had won a slow-dancing prize with Nellie Bly, the song’s ‘other woman’.  Britt died from his wounds a few days later.  That same year a song called ‘Frankie Killed Allen’ appeared, and in 1912, the song - more or less - took on its current form as ‘Frankie and Johnnie’.  It has been performed and recorded by a vast and somewhat eclectic array of artists - Lead Belly, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jnr and Gene Vincent, to name but a few.  The YouTube video will give you some ideas about what you can do to spice up the song’s otherwise rather bland chords.

Chords

Capo at 7th Fret


G

Frankie and Johnny were lovers -


Lord, how they did love.

         
C
They swore to be true to each other,

                                G
True as the stars above;

                    D                                             G
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.




G
Frankie, she was a good girl -


Everybody should know,

         
C
She paid one hundred dollars

                                G
To buy Johnny a new suit of clothes.

                    D                                             G
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.



G
Frankie went down to the corner,


Just for a glass of beer;

         
C
She said to the fat bartender,

                          G
"Has my lovin' Johnny been here?

                                 D                                             G
Have you seen my man? I think he's doing me wrong."





G
"Well, I don't want to cause you no trouble,


And I don't want to tell you no lies,

         
C
But I seen your man about an hour ago

                                          G
With a girl named Nellie Bly;

                       D                                               G
He was your man - I think he's doing you wrong."




G
Then Frankie went home in a hurry;


She didn't go there for fun;

C
Frankie went home to get a-hold

                                            G
Of Johnny's six-shooting gun.

                    D                                             G
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.





G
Frankie peeked over the transom


And there to her surprise

         
C
She saw her lovin-man Johnny

                                                   G
With that high-browed Nellie Bly.

                    D                                             G
He was her man, and he was doing her wrong.





G
Then Frankie pulled back her kimono,


And she pulled out a small .44

         C
And root-e-toot-toot three times she shot

                                                     G
Right through that hardwood door.

                        D                                           G
She shot her man 'cos he was doing her wrong.





G
"Well roll me over on to my left side,


Roll me over so slow,

             
C
Roll me over on my left hand side, Frankie,

                                     G
Them bullets hurt me so,

                    D                                             G
I was your man, but I was doing you wrong."






G
Now, bring round your rubber-tired buggy,


And bring round your rubber-tired hack;

         
C
She's taking her man to the graveyard

                                                      G
And she ain't gonna bring him back.

                        D                                             G
She shot that man 'cos he was doing her wrong.




G
This story has no moral,


This story has got no end,

               
C
Well the story just goes to show you women

                                                       G
That there ain't no good in the men.

                    D                                             G
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.

Lyrics

Frankie and Johnny were lovers - 
Lord, how they did love.
They swore to be true to each other,
True as the stars above;
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.

Frankie, she was a good girl - 
Everybody should know,
She paid one hundred dollars
To buy Johnny a new suit of clothes.
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.

Frankie went down to the corner,
Just for a glass of beer;
She said to the fat bartender,
"Has my lovin' Johnny been here?
Have you seen my man? I think he's doing me wrong."

"Well, I don't want to cause you no trouble,
And I don't want to tell you no lies,
But I seen your man about an hour ago
With a girl named Nellie Bly;
He was your man - I think he's doing you wrong."

Then Frankie went home in a hurry;
She didn't go there for fun;
Frankie went home to get a-hold
Of Johnny's six-shooting gun.
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Frankie peeked over the transom
And there to her surprise
She saw her lovin-man Johnny
With that high-browed Nellie Bly.
He was her man, and he was doing her wrong.

Then Frankie pulled back her kimono,
And she pulled out a small .44
And root-e-toot-toot three times she shot
Right through that hardwood door.
She shot her man 'cos he was doing her wrong.

"Well roll me over on to my left side,
Roll me over so slow,
Roll me over on my left hand side, Frankie,
Them bullets hurt me so,
I was your man, but I was doing you wrong."

Now, bring round your rubber-tired buggy,
And bring round your rubber-tired hack;
She's taking her man to the graveyard
And she ain't gonna bring him back.
She shot that man 'cos he was doing her wrong.

This story has no moral,
This story has got no end,
Well the story just goes to show you women
That there ain't no good in the men.
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.

Other American Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs