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Famous John and Johnny Songs

What are the chances that you know a few songs about a John or Johnny? Excellent! John was the No. 1 name in the United States for a long long time. Since it began keeping track of these statistics in 1880, the Social Security Administration shows that it was No. 1 consecutively from 1880 to 1924.

After that it dropped one place, little by little. By 1974, John was no longer in the Top 5. 1987 was the first year that it dropped out of the Top 10 and ranked at No. 11. In all those years, many songs were written about boys and men named John and Johnny, both a nickname and a given name. The peak time period for boys who were named Johnny at birth was between 1944 and 1951 when Johnny was always in the Top 50 most popular American boys’ names.

Here is “Big Bad John”, a No. 1 hit for Jimmy Dean in 1961. John was the 70th most popular name for American boys that year and, even though everyone loved the song, it did nothing to improve that position. By 1978, the name dropped out of the Top 100 and came in at No. 101.

We have three lists for you: songs with John in the title, songs with Johnny in the title and foreign language songs with either or another form of John in the title. Of course, this is not an official or exhaustive list and we don’t claim to have every John and Johnny song here, nor do we include songs that had a man or boy named John or Johnny but a different title. An example of that is the Eagles’ 1976 hit “New Kid in Town”. A lot of people still think the song’s name is “Johnny Come Lately” but it’s not even a subtitle. The information after the title is intended to help you look up the song on youtube if you’ve a mind to listen to it.

More John Songs
Abraham Martin and John – Dion (1968)
The Ballad of John and Yoko – The Beatles (1969)
Catfish John – Johnny Russell (1972)
A Dear John Letter – Bonnie Owens & Fuzzy Owen (1953)
Dear John – Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys (1951)
Getaway John (John Hardy) – Kingston Trio
John Barleycorn – English folksong
John Brown’s Body – Civil War song
The John B. Sails – Bahamian folk song
John Hardy (Getaway John) – Kingston Trio
John Henry – American folk song
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt – children’s song
John Wayne – John Martyn (1986)
John Wesley Harding – Bob Dylan (1967)
Who Slapped John? – Gene Vincent (1956)

Johnny Songs
Frankie and Johnny – traditional (yodeling version: Jimmie Rodgers – 1929)
Handsome Johnny – Richie Havens (1967)
“Here’s Johnny” – “Weird Al” Yankovic (1986)
Johnny 99 – Bruce Springsteen (1982)
Johnny Angel – Shelley Fabares (1962)
Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry (1958)
Johnny Get Angry – Joanie Sommer (1962)
Johnny’s Gone to Hilo (sea shanty – sometimes Tom)
Johnny Got A Gun – Tom Paxton
Johnny Guitar – Peggy Lee (1954)
Johhny Half-Breed – Pete La Farge (1965)
Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier (traditional folk song – England, Ireland)
Johnny Mathis’ Feet – American Music Club (1993)
Johnny Reb – Johnny Horton (1959)
Johnny Thunder – The Kinks (1968)
Oh, Johnny! – The Andrews Sisters (1939)
When Johnny Comes Marching Home – Civil War song
Who’s Johnny – El DeBarge (1986)

And let’s not forget the 50s song, “The Three Bells” by The Brown. It featured three stages in the life of little Jimmy Brown but in Edith Piaf’s original French version, “Les Trois Cloches”, his name was Jean-Francois Nicot. Piaf also had another Jean song with “La goualante du pauvre Jean”, which became “The Poor People of Paris” in English and “Johnny, tu n’es pas un ange”.

Other Languages
Lieber John – Mary Roos (1973)
L’oncle John – Rocky Volcano (1961 – French, adapted from “Long Tall Sally”, Little Richard)
Mister John B. – Sylvie Vartan (1966 – French, adapted from “Sloop John B”, Beach Boys)
Surabaya Johnny – Carola Neher (1929 – German
Zurück an Johnny – Ted Herold (1963 – German. adapted from “Return to Sender, Elvis Presley)


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  1. Daphne says:

    Fine Young Cannibals — Johnny Come Home

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