John Barleycorn Must Die Traffic

John Barleycorn Must Die


I heard this track for the first time on my brother John’s record player summer of 1981. Seminal after listening to Empty Pages to hear this English folk standard performed so passionately by a young prodigy, Steve Winwood, and the other members of Traffic, estimable musicians in their own right. We know John Barleycorn must die is about the beer brewing process yet it resonates with a heroic battle for survival in the mind of a hormone-raging adolescent.   Steve Winwood’s first solo release, entitled Steve Winwood, was my first true introduction to his music.  All music, for me, is introduced achronologically but always at the right moment.  John Barleycorn must die right after a very difficult adolescent traumatic experience. All experiences in the adolescent mind are traumatic as we all know. 


Steve Winwood – vocals, guitar, keyboards.
Jim Capaldi – drums, vocals.
Chris Wood – flute, saxophone, keyboards.
Ric Grech – bass, guitar, violin.

Rebop Kwaku Baah
Ghanaian percussionist

John Barleycorn must die back cover


3 months ago

Sounds clear as a bell. So very impressive. All with respect to Steve Winwood and his musical excellence.


Report for nurses; 9 months ago

Not only will you not find another musician who can bring it like that on the guitar and any other instrument on the stage, deliver those classic vocals that haven’t wandered from the original recording, but also do it flawlessly for the past 50 years. Pound for pound, the greatest musician alive today

Nine months ago
It’s curious that the comments seem to focus on Steve’s guitar playing, many as if it’s a surprise. The power and beauty of his voice blew me away all these years later. He delivers these wonderful lyrics with just as much nuance and emotion as in 1967. Bravo!