Tag Archives: songs

Say Say Oh Playmate – Children’s Song


“Say say oh playmate, 

Come out and play with me, 

And bring your dolly’s three, 

Climb up my apple tree, 

Slide down my rainbow 

Into my cellar door 

And we’ll be jolly friends 

Forevermore more more more more more.”


JN is a 50-year-old freelance writer in Minnesota, where she grew up as well. She told me about a rhyme she used to sing as a child with her friends and said that they used to use it to jump rope to.  


This is an example of children’s folklore because it is an easy song to sing and remember, so kids can grasp onto it and use it in different contexts. Beyond it being used as a jump rope song, I’ve also heard it used with a handclapping game. Based on my experience, this song seems to be relatively common around the United States, as it has been around for a few generations at least which has given it lots of time to proliferate. It is likely that beyond its different uses there are other ways of singing this song as well, as something like this is a good contender for having different oikotypes in different places. It is a fun way to connect with friends by singing it, and it is likely something more used by young girls as a way to form connections and play together, as it includes some gender stereotypes by referring to playing with dolls, which is commonly seen as an activity done mostly by young girls. 

Per Spelmann


My informant for this piece is an American of Scandinavian descent. He lived in Norway for a time during high school and learned the language while he was there. He also still keeps in contact with his host family from his time living there, and his son recently spent a year abroad there as well. he recalls this song fondly because “we used to sing [it] when our daughter was upset or crying, and it was the only thing that could get her to sleep.”


Per is a common older name in Norway, and Spelmann is a name too but it literally means “player.” In Norway, a classical or folk musician is called a spelmann. My informant learned the song living Norway in high school when he was learning folk dance, and when they were done dancing he’d “jump up and kick the hat off the stick!” To understand this song, it’s important to know that it is about a musician who had to trade his violin in order to feed his family. Here, he gets it back:

Main Piece

“Per Spellmann han hadde ei einaste ku, Per Spellmann han hadde ei einaste ku,

Per Spellmann (Player) had only one cow, (repeat)

Han bytte bort kua fekk fela igjen, han bytte bort kua fekk fela igjen,

He traded away the cow to get the fiddle back, (repeat)

Det gode, de gamle, fiolin, det fiolin, det fela mi!

The good, the old, violin, violin, that fiddle of mine, (repeat)

Per Spellmann han spelta aa fela hu laat, (repeat)

Per Spellmann played and the fiddle laughed

Saa gutterne dansa, aa jenterne graat, (repeat)

The boys danced and the girls cried.

Det gode, de gamle fiolin, det fiolin, det fela mi!”


This old Norwegian folk song tells us a great deal about the culture and beliefs of Norway’s people. Its basic concept–a man trading his violin to support his family and trading it back for his last cow–is not hard to understand, but it’s very valuable. It might seem that the man simply doesn’t love his family very much, but this isn’t the case. At first, he does trade away his instrument for them, showing how much he cares. But in the end, he trades his last possession of value–his only cow–to get his fiddle back. Although it’s sad for his family, the song shows that this culture values happiness over everything because life is nothing without it. This cultural value is still reflected in Norway’s present-day laws, which factor citizens’ happiness into other national measures of success, ensuring that the people are well taken care of.

The British War Song: It’s a Long Way to Tipperary Song


It’s a long way to Tipperary
It’s a long way to go
It’s a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know
Goodbye Piccadilly
Farewell Lester Square
It’s a long, long way to Tipperary
By my heart’s right there

Background: My informant learned this song from her husband who was in the British Navy. Typically this song was sung by sailors on the ship as a way of bonding. Later my informant recounted that her husband would sing it to their children while they were brushing their teeth to make sure that they spent long enough on the activity.

Context: My informant and I were discussing childhood experiences and she remembered when she had children she used to sing them songs along with her husband. She then sang those same songs to her grandchildren.

Thoughts: I have heard this song before but I never knew it came from soldiers singing to pass the time. The song appears to be about returning to a loved one that the soldier has missed very much, and since that loved one lives in Tipperary the song, likely, has Irish origins. Tipperary is a county in Ireland and across the British channel from Piccadilly, certainly a ‘long, long way’ to go.

The Fudgy Wudgy Man

  • Context: The informant (A) is a 15 year old high school student who spends his summers at the Jersey Shore in South New Jersey. He explains a summer job that mainly men, but some women, have that is a staple of South Jersey culture – the Fudgy Wudgy Man. The conversation arose when speaking about what summer jobs for which he should apply. He not only explains the job itself, but the song sung by the Fudgy Wudgy Men. 
  • Text:

A: “The Fudgy Wudgy man… he pushes the ice cream cart… uh… there’s the Spongebob bar, the… uh… Chipwhich, the… uh… um… cookie sandwich… Choco Taco!”

Me: “So he pushes the cart? When?”

A: “On the beach… from like a certain time period. I don’t know when it starts or when it ends.”

Me: “What do you mean? He pushes the cart on the beach?”

A: So… this man, well men… and women… um… he pushes an ice… well like a cart, that has ice in it and it has ice cream in it and he sells the ice cream to people… on the beach…

They go…


Me: “And just anyone can do this?”

A: “I think you have to apply for it, but I’m not quite sure…”

Me: “How do you know they’re the Fudgy Wudgy Man?”

A: “‘cus their shirts say ‘The Fudgy Wudgy Man’ and they have a flag that says ‘The Fudgy Wudgy Man’… uh… they also have 2 Ball ScrewBalls, Fudgesicles, Orange Creamsicles, Banana bars, Strawberry bars, Lemon Water Ice, Cherry Water Ice… water… that’s some good water…”

  • Analysis: The Fudgy Wudgy Man is a constant in the Jersey shore culture. The Fudgy Wudgy man sells shirts with the job title and a smiling popsicle graphic. He sings a song about his job to boost morale and notify the children of the ice cream cart. This phenomenon is similar to that of Ice Cream Man and Ice Cream Trucks, but instead the carts are pushed along the beach by hand. Many kids apply for the job in order to get a tan and get buff while walking up and down the beach, but their participation prolongs an essential part of South Jersey culture.

No Music Party Chant

Main Piece:

 Informant: It’s simple. It’s just like, if the music cuts out at a party, or if like, the speaker blows and there’s a long stretch of silence someone will stand up and start a “No Music” chant. It’s like, one person will clap three times and then the rest of the party will reply “No Music!” in rythm back. God. And that’ll keep going until someone has the music back on again.

Background:  The informant is a senior here at USC. He is my next door neighbor and we conducted this interview in person at his apartment. He is from Manhattan Beach and has lived there for his entire life. He is a social individual and has attended many parties throughout high school and college. He attended a large high school in Manhattan Beach.

Context: The informant learned of this chant/song when he experienced it first hand. Typically, this kind of chant is typical amongst high school “party” culture. The informant clearly didn’t have high praise for this piece of American high school party folklore. He had no idea when this chant came about, but was certain it had been along for much longer than he had been around.

Analysis: I specifically asked the informant whether or not he had experienced this chant in his own life. I was interested because in own hometown, whenever a situation like this would occur at a social gathering we would break out in a similar style chant. However, In my experience, the chant involved much more rhythm and was significantly more intricate. Another contrast is that I look back on this chant fondly, in comparison to the informant. This could potentially be because my school was much smaller in size and emphasized an arts-based education. This chant is folklore because it contains multiplicity and variation (Dundes) and is an example of artistic communication performed in small groups (Ben-Amos). While the informant’s chant is more simplistic, that could be due to the large nature of his high school. On the other hand, the chant I experienced could be a function of my high school emphasizing artistic performance, making my community more willing to indulge the dramatic nature of the chant.