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Michelle Mays: Music

Gently Johnny

(Michelle Mays)
Traditional, and changed a bit by Michelle Mays. Music composition and arrangement by Michelle Mays
I first heard Gently Johnny performed around a campfire in the late 80’s. I was shocked that anyone would write and perform a song like this! In my shock, I giggled, and Gail, my HPS giggled. Poor Darragh, there he was, singing the song with his breathtaking voice, strumming it to perfection and my HPS and I were giggling like school girls. (I have since begged him to forgive me! Thank you Darragh, my gracious friend.)

Getting beyond the shock of the song, the song is beautiful. It is no wonder that it has survived for 800 years! I don't believe anyone has ever performed it the way I do it, nor has Gently Johnny, ever in 800 years, been arranged as I have done it.

I must also add:
When I recorded Gently Johnny in the PDM Studio in OK City, Ernie - sound engineer extraordinaire, worked the sound board and recording. I’d already laid down the guitar track, and so the next step was to sing the lyrics.

In this step, I was in the small sound/recording room, Ernie sat facing the recording and sound board and his back was toward me. We communicated via the mike and earphones.

Now, Ernie as well as being an outstanding musician and sound engineer extraordinaire is also a deeply religious/spiritual man of high and honorable character and morals. He was involved with the recording of my first CD, The Promise, and knew my music was of a different Path and all about the Spirit.

So…. Back to Gently Johnny… I intentionally perform Gently Johnny to get a .. rise.. out of the audience. ;-) In the Studio with Ernie, after laying down the guitar track, all I told him about Gently Johnny was that it was an 800 year old traditional song and that I stretched the limits on the song.

The guitar track was recorded. So there we were, me in the small recording/sound room behind Ernie… and Ernie sitting with his back to me, paying attention to the equipment and levels. I was a bit nervous about how he would take the lyrics and performance. Would this deeply religious/spiritual man do what most audiences do… giggle? Although there is nothing in the lyrics that are X rated, the words are a bit…. Suggestive. ;-) It is definitely not a ‘normal’ song.

As I began singing Gently Johnny, I could see him sitting there, his usual nodding in approval to the sound and vocals. I knew that mellow and professional Ernie was curious about what I was going to do with that simple guitar riff and wasn’t expecting what was coming up in the lyrics. As I began singing about where Johnny was putting his hand… Ernie’s shoulders began to bounce up and down. Immediately, the whole studio was filled with laughter.. his laughter at the shock of ME singing such lyrics in such a manner… and My laughter at his response. It was one of those moments that are unforgettable! This memory always brings laughter to my heart and a smile to my face.
Gently Johnny
(Michelle Mays/traditional, new arrangement of music and lyrics)
He put his hand on my hair
And I said, Do you like it there?
He put his hand on my Lips,
And I said, Do you want a kiss?


Gently, Gently,
Gently Johnny,
Gently Johnny, my Jingo

He put his hand on my knee,
And I said, would you like to see?
He put his hand on my thigh.
And I said, would you like to try?


He put his hand on my Breast,
And I said, would you like the rest?
He put his hand on my Belly,
And I said... would you like to fill me?


Credits: Traditional folk, arranged by Michelle Mays. Vocals- Michelle Mays, Amanda Martin, Bass- Rob Volmar, Josiah Tullis, Keys-Ernie Tullis, Drums-Caleb Tullis, Saxophone-Adam Rays, Guitar-Michelle Mays