USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘children song’
Musical

She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain

“She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes,

She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes,

She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain,

She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain,

She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes,

Oh we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes,

Oh we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes,

Oh we’ll all go out to meet her,

Yes, we’ll all go out to meet her,

Oh we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes, hi Babe! (*makes waving motion*)

We’ll all have chicken and dumplings when she comes,

We’ll all have chicken and dumplings when she comes,

We’ll all have chicken and dumplings,

We’ll all have chicken and dumplings,

We’ll all have chicken and dumplings when she comes, Yum-yum! (*rubs stomach*)

We’ll have to sleep with Grandma when she comes,

We’ll have to sleep with Grandma when she comes,

We’ll have to sleep with Grandma,

We’ll have to sleep with Grandma,

We’ll have to sleep with Grandma when she comes, Scoot over!” (*makes nudging motion*)

 

“I probably learned this one from my Dad. It was another one we would always sing in the car, because you can keep adding onto it. We would sang the 10 lines we knew, and then we would take turns making up verses. Our favorites were always the ones with funny gestures!”

As a folk song, this piece both hearkens from a certain point in history, but is fluid enough to change over time (while still retaining enough of the original structure to be recognizable. With this particular song, it seems that much of the joy contained within in the song is focused on the performance of the piece. Though the roots of this song can be traced back to an African-American spiritual about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, it seems to have changed to the point where that is no longer an integral part of the songs meaning. Rather, the song has morphed into what seems to be (at least in the instance) a celebration of family, and the act of family coming together. This can be shown both in the particular lyrics cited above, and it’s typical performance within a family setting.

My Grandma (the informant) stated that her favorite part of the song was the fact that she and her family could easily make up new lines to add onto the song once all the known lines were sung. This focus on collective performance and alteration could also be seen as a family-centric ideal. Singing such a song within the family environment could be viewed as a way to bolster both familial closeness and participation (especially important in my Grandma’s situation; she had 7 siblings).

 

For another form of this song:

Seeger, Pete. American Folk, Game & Activity Songs for Children. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2000.

Game
Gestures
Musical

Miss Mary Mack

The informant was raised in Chicago Illinois. She attended school in Chicago until she was able to go to USC on a track scholarship. She remembered a song that had been taught to her in elementary school that went through her and was continually passed on.

Informant…

“Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 50 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump over the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high
They reached the sky, sky, sky
And they didn’t come back, back, back
‘Til the 4th of July, ly, ly!”

Analysis…

Miss Mary Mack is a very popular song amongst the American children population. The informant said that she learned in first or second grade. She said that there is a hand game that goes along with it. You have a partner and you clap hands back and forth while chanting the song lyrics. She said that she was taught the song by other girls in her  school and she taught others this same thing. It sort of gets passed down through the grades and never really stops getting sung. She wasn’t sure where it came from but no one really knows. Its not about the author she said, its about the song and the hand game with it.

Miss Mary Mack is popular in our society. It is common for most people to recognize this and be able to sing it and clap hands with someone. Me personally, I was taught this song in elementary school as well and passed it on. The difference is that my mother showed it to me. It is interesting to me that this song is so common amongst the youngsters.

The song Miss Mary Mack can be found in the childrens’ book Miss Mary Mack, adapted by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Nadine Westcott.

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