...Or Would You Rather Get a Job?

7. The Broken Token

Lyrics and Music: Mike Agranoff ©1993 Mike Agranoff

Mike Agranoff as Handsome Johnny
Patsy Rolston as Lovely Nancy
Ken Rolston as Sweet William
David Jones as the Bold Sea Captain
and attendees of the Folk Project Fall 2000 Festival as the chorus

Note: This song as originally written was designed for a solo singer. When split into four parts, it required some changes in pronouns and other minor alterations. The words below are as originally written, and the alternative words for multiple voices are inserted in [brackets].

As I roved out one bright May morn after seven years at sea,
To hear the thrush so sweetly sing and the pleasant air to see,
There I spied the most beauteous creature 'ere my eyes beheld before,
And I resolved this one to wed, and make her mine forever more.
Evermore, evermore...And make her mine forever more.

I steppéd boldly up to her and asked of her her name.
"Wilt thou walk along with me and tell me whence thou came?
For I am but a poor young sailor, lately come from o'er the brine,
But all my stores and all my heart I'd give to thee to make thee mine."
Make thee mine, make thee mine...I'd give to thee to make thee mine.

"Stand back, stand back you false young man, for this can never be!
For I am pledged to handsome Johnny, far away at sea."
And from the pocket of her gown drew forth a ring, t'was broke in twain,
Saying, "I shall wed with none until the other half comes home again."
Home again, home again...til the other half comes home again.

Then from my breast I drew a chain on which hung a half a ring.
Saying, "It is I, your handsome Johnny. This to you I bring.
For seven years I've somehow kept this half a ring upon a chain.
And by this token I do hope to win my Nancy back again."
Back again, back again...to win my Nancy back again.

When she beheld this broken token she began to laugh.
"Oh, Johnny, dear 'tis well for you you kept that other half.
For seven years have not been kind. You've grown a paunch, your hair is gone.
But I suppose I'll marry you, since I have waited all this long."
All this long, all this long...since I have waited all this long.

Just then rode up a fine young soldier, pride of all the corps.
Saying, " Nancy, dear, 'tis I, Sweet William, lately come from war.
Dost thou recall this coin we broke between us, our love to attest?
One half I hold before you now. The other half hangs at thy breast."
At thy breast, at thy breast...the other half hangs at thy breast.

"Stand back, Stand back you false young man for this can never be.
For I am pledged to Handsome Johnny, lately come from sea."
"Oh, no," cries William, "this can't be, though seven years he's been your beau.
I trow my claim doth precede his. We broke this coin eight years ago."
Years ago, years ago...we broke this coin eight years ago.

As we three stood there all bewildered wond'ring what to do,
Along there comes [comes I] a bold sea captain chief of my [John's] old crew.
Saying, "I have come to claim my Nancy, by this remembrance we had broken."
And he drew forth from out his purse a half a New York Subway token.
Subway token, subway token...a half a New York Subway token. "

Stand back, stand back you false young man!" Sweet William, he did say.
"For I did know thee as a maid before I went away.
And you'd cut off your long yellow hair and men's apparel put you on,
All for a sailor to become, a-following your Handsome John."
Handsome John, Handsome John...a-following your Handsome John.

And so Sweet William and Lovely Nancy married were in June.
And I have wed my bold sea captain. We're expecting soon.
And sometimes we all get together . Go eat out and for a laugh,
We leave the waitress for a tip a dollar bill that's torn in half.
Torn in half, torn in half...a dollar bill that's torn in half.