Song or Story
Download Full Text (760 KB)
Rights and Access Note
Rights assessment remains the responsibility of the researcher. No known restrictions on publication. For information about the process and fees for obtaining higher resolution scans or another file format, contact Special Collections.
"Cod Liver Oil" was a popular song from Newfoundland, so popular in fact that many have claimed it as a Newfoundland song. It's origins, however, are not so clearly traced.
CHORUS: Oh doctor, oh doctor, oh dear Dr. John, Your cod liver oil is so pure and so strong; I’m afraid of my life, I’ll go down in the soil, If my wife don’t stop drinking that cod liver oil.
2. Oh, I bought her a bottle, oh, just for to try, The way that she drank it you’d think she was dry; I got her another, it vanished the same And I thought she had cod liver oil on the brain. She liked it so good now that there was no doubt, I know that my wife she got terrible stout; And as she got stout, of course she got strong, And then I got jealous of Dr. dear John.
3. My house it resembles a big doctor’s shop, It’s covered with bottles from bottom to top; And then in the morning when the kettle do boil, You would think it was singing of cod liver oil.
Cod Liver Oil, Omer McKenna, Rumford, Maine, Newfoundland, Irish, Johnny Burke, medical drink, song
Peacock, Kenneth. Songs of the Newfoundland Outports. Volume 1. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, 1965, 48-49; Paul Matthew St. Pierre, “De-Bunking Johnny Burke, an Excluded Canadian Troubadour.” Canadian Poetry 4 (1995); O’Lochlainn, Colm. More Irish Street Ballads. London: Pan books, 1978, 60-61; Greenleaf, Elisabeth, and Grace Mansfield. Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland. Hatboro, PA: Folklore Associates, 1968, 316; and Kirwin, William J., ed. John White’s Collection of the Songs of Johnny Burke. St. John’s, Nfld: H. Cuff Publications, 1982, 97-100.
Ethnomusicology | Folklore | Oral History
McKenna, Omer. 1965. “Cod Liver Oil.” NA65.19, CD95.9. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine..