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We will be adding more tablature arrangements regularly... please visit again.


Each time a new file is posted in Current Tablature, the previous file is moved to "Archived tab files".

When You and I Were Young, Maggie

Words: George Johnson
Music : James Butterfield
Arr: Merv Rowley
& Ruth Randle 2012

Our selection this month is a nostalgic story about the bittersweet reflections upon the early life and love of two elderly people as they grow old together. The lyrics talk about a real-life experience by the composer, whose wife died in the first year of their marriage, rather than sharing her golden years with him. 

Johnson and his wife were from Canada, where he was a school teacher by profession; Maggie (Margaret Clark) was one of his students. They married in 1864, the year of her graduation. She died less than a year later. During her illness, Johnson wrote a poem that later became the lyrics for this song. He asked a friend to write the music, which was completed in 1865.

Today, the poem and locale of its origin are marked by an engraved plaque at the top of a glacial escarpment overhanging the Niagara River and looking down upon the city of Hamilton, Ontario below.

This is one of the favorite pieces of music performed by Barber Shop Quartet groups down through the years. Enjoy this old tune, now playable on the dulcimer.

Origin of the music: Some think this piece of music was derived from an older one originating in Ireland. Not so; this is  indeed the original composition, by Johnson and Butterfield from Canada.

From skool.ie, answers.com, and wikipedia:
The Irish playwright Sean O'Casey [1880-1964] substituted the name Nora for Maggie, and used George Washington Johnson's song in his 1926 anti-war play, The Plough And The Stars, wherein Jack Clitheroe sings it to his wife Nora.

Your 1-3-5 Team


Download files:




Historical Links:



Thanks to Alf Bashore for helping complete the TEF file this month.

  Click to go to the TablEdit website and download their free demo version

If you do not have the Tabledit program, please click on the TablEdit banner to download a free .tef reader program.  It includes the ability to play this song at a slower speed (great for learning). TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for fretted, stringed instruments.

  Click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader

Adobe® Reader® is a free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

  Our PDF music files are produced from music created with Finale® notation software.


Our .MIDI music files are produced by TablEdit notation software.





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