Tag Archives: song

13. Blow the Man Down

Tommy Scott:

“Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
Way aye blow the man down
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him away
Give me some time to blow the man down!

As I was a walking down Paradise Street
Way aye blow the man down
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow,
Way aye blow the man down
So I took in all sail and cried, “Way enough now.”
Give me some time to blow the man down!

So I tailed her my flipper and took her in tow
Way aye blow the man down
And yardarm to yardarm away we did go.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

But as we were going she said unto me
Way aye blow the man down
“There’s a spanking full-rigger just ready for sea.”
Give me some time to blow the man down!

But as soon as that packet was clear of the bar
Way aye blow the man down
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

It’s starboard and larboard on deck you will sprawl
Way aye blow the man down
For Kicking Jack Williams commands the Black Ball.
Give me some time to blow the man down!

So I give you fair warning before we belay,
Way aye blow the man down
Don’t ever take head of what pretty girls say.
Give me some time to blow the man down!”

Background: This is another sea shanty that my friend Tommy knows from his childhood.

Context: Tommy sung this shanty while we were at a party, unprompted.

Interpretation: This song refers to rough seas and winds“blowing the man down”, meaning almost capsizing the ship, and the chaos it causes aboard the vessel.

North Dakotan German-Russian Childhood Folk Song – “Oh Playmate”

Transcribed Lyrics Sung by Informant

Oh playmate, come out and play with me

And bring your dollies three

Climb up my apple tree

Chuck down my rain barrel

Slide down my cellar door

And we’ll be jolly friends

Forever more

Say, Say, oh playmate

I cannot play with you

My dolly’s got the flu


Ain’t got no rain barrel

Ain’t got no cellar door

But we’ll be jolly friends

Forever more, more, more, more, more


Informant recalls that she learned this song from fellow classmates at recess during her elementary school years in North Dakota. She would sing this song with friends and classmates, and also alone, “if I were doing chores or whatever” she mused. “I don’t really know to interpret the song…it’s just a little jingle about friendship I guess…I think the melody’s the more important part of it.”

My Analysis

I agree with the informant that the melody is very strong and catchy, and probably the reason why the song’s remained a part of the German-Russian North Dakotan folklore. It reminds me a lot of songs I would sing on the playground as a kid, which I think speaks to the universality of childhood songs, even if the melodies and lyrical content are different across cultures.

Childhood Jump Rope Song –


“Cinderella dressed in yellow, went upstairs to kiss a fellow, made a mistake, and kissed a snake, how many doctors will it take? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…”


This is a song one sings while jump-roping. According to my informant, you’re supposed to keep counting for as many jumps as the participant is able to go for before getting caught up in the rope or stopping. My informant heard of this particular jump rope song from her neighbor at a young age, and would sing it both with her as well as with other friends at school. She says it’s just a silly rhyming song, and that she’s unsure of how to analyze it any further. My informant says she remembers other jump rope songs she chanted as a child, but this is the only one she can remember in full due to its relative brevity.

My Analysis

When I heard my informant start talking about this particular jump-roping song, I immediately remembered also learning it in my childhood. However interesting enough, I only learned the song as a stand-alone song, and didn’t realize that it was associated with jump roping. Since the number “eight” rhymes with the previous lines of “take” and “snake,” I thought the counting was just a part of the song itself. But upon learning that my informant used it as a jump-roping song, the song itself immediately made a lot more sense.

Thanksgiving Song – “I Heard Mr Turkey Say”

Song Lyrics Transcribed from Informant

I heard Mr. Turkey say

gobble, gobble, gobble

Soon will be Thanksgiving day

gobble, gobble, gobble

People say it is such fun

But I know that I must run

and hide until the day is done

gobble, gobble, gobble


My informant learned this song from her mother at an early age, and would sing it in November around Thanksgiving. When asked how she interpreted the song she said she that it was about a “Mr. Turkey” trying to escape the fate of many turkeys on Thanksgiving. She remarked that compared to Christmas and even Halloween, there weren’t a lot of Thanksgiving songs, but even though she learned the song from her German-Russian mother in North Dakota, she wasn’t certain that the song was necessarily invented by German-Russians.

My Analysis

I find this song to be really catchy, and I think it’s fun that it’s Thanksgiving-themed as that’s not necessarily a super-popular subject matter for musical composers. Overall, it’s a fun song about a Turkey trying to hide during Thanksgiving, and features a fun onamonapia with the repeated “gobble, gobble, gobble.” I agree with my informant that the song maybe wasn’t entirely invented in North Dakota, but I was unable to find a source of where or how the song was made.

Song Sung by Informant

Happy Birthday Song

Main Piece: Happy Birthday Song

“Happy birthday, happy happy birthday, we’re in love with you, so in love with you,

May happiness be near throughout the coming year 

And all the best to you and all the best to you

May you keep on smiling everyday

And all your troubles fade away 

And may you never ever ever be blue

So happy birthday (name) 

Happy happy birthday to youuu youuuuu youuuuuuuuu!”

Background Information:

This was taught to L when she was a child by her Uncle and Aunt. They made it up because they thought that the normal happy birthday song was much too dull.

Context of the Performance:

This is sung when it is somebody’s birthday at the same time as when people would normally sing the well known happy birthday song. Usually, this occurs when the birthday cake is brought out to the person whose birthday it is.

My Thoughts:

I like this version of the happy birthday song better than the well known version of the happy birthday song because it is more lively and interesting. It is a little bit more complex than the original version of the happy birthday song; however, it is not overly complicated and still easy for people to learn in a short period of time. Additionally, this song mentions that the singers are in love with the birthday recipient and therefore I presume that it is only sung to people that the birthday recipient is very close with because singing this birthday song to somebody that you are not familiar with would not be as comfortable.