Martin Carthy's youtube version

There was three men came out of the west, Their fortunes for to try, And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn should die. They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, Throwed clods upon his head, And these three man made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.

Then they let him lie for a very long time Till the rain from heaven did fall, Then little Lord John sprung up his head, And soon amazed them all. They let him stand till midsummer Till he looked both pale and wan, And little Lord John he growed a long, long beard And so became a man.

They hired men with the scythes so sharp To cut him off at the knee, They rolled him and tied him by the waist, And served him most barbarously. They hired men with the sharp pitchforks Who pricked him to the heart, And the loader he served him worse than that, For he bound him to the cart.

They wheeled him round and round the field Till they came unto a barn, And there they made a solemn mow of poor John Barleycorn. They hired men with the crab-tree sticks To cut him skin from bone, And the miller he served him worse than that, For he ground him between two stones.

Here’s little Lord John in a nut-brown bowl, And brandy in a glass; And little Lord John in the nut-brown bowl Proved the stronger man at last. And the huntsman he can’t hunt the fox, Nor so loudly blow his horn, And the tinker he can’t mend kettles nor pots Without a little of Barleycorn.