On Top of Spaghetti

“Folklore? I don’t know man, what about that one song, I think we sang it at summer camp, on top of old smokey? On top of Old Smokey, all covered in snow, I found my true lover blah blah blah, I can’t remember all of it. Also wasn’t there that On top of spaghetti song that was pretty much the same thing. Oh yea! On top of spaghetti that was the one. On top of spaghetti, all covered in cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed. Yea I remember that one when we ate spaghetti or something. Saying it out loud it sounds pretty dumb. But I’m pretty sure we all did it yeah? I don’t know the details of Old Smokey exactly but I remember singing the spaghetti song.”


This collection is a good example of multiplicity and variation within folklore. The informant at first sings On top of Old Smokey, but realizes that this is not the version he meant to tell, although the tune is exactly the same. On top of Spaghetti on the other hand is the version widely known according to the informant.

On top of Spaghetti documents the experience of having a meatball slip off a pile of spaghetti, a horrible thing to happen that many have experienced. It is a humorous song that may also alludes to common discontent at the small number of meatballs that accompany the spaghetti dish. It is almost a joke, and this is reflected in the informant telling us that it was a camp song, sang by children to pass he time.