Poll: Which words did *You* learn to these kids songs?

There’s something a little disconcerting to find that there are more than one set of words to the songs you grew up singing. Two songs in particular surprise me since the “other” versions make no sense…

Did you learn that “the ants go marching down into the ground to get out of the rain” or “the ants go marching down to the ground to get out of the rain”?

How the hell would just being on the ground keep you dry?
What does “Dear Henry use” to fix the hole in the bucket, and what does he cut it with? A stick and an ax, a straw and a knife, or a straw and an ax?

A straw isn’t going to be very effective at plugging up a hole, even if we’re talking about a natural one and not a drinking one. And cutting a straw with an ax?? Talk about overkill…

What other of your beloved songs from childhood have alternate words that, in your heart, you know are wrong?

I think the problem with the “ants go marching” song - and the reason for the into/to discrepancy - is merely the rhythm and tune the song is set to. It requires you to slur “into” to make it fit into one beat, and sometimes the “in” bit just gets muddled and lost, somewhat combined with the ending n-sound in the “down”.

Down.n.to the ground.to get out.of the rain.

You have to stress the “-to” so the “in-” gets lost. :slight_smile:

As for the “Dear Henry” song, the whole point of it is that it is supposed to be overkill, to cut even a stick. My version does say stick, but hell, neither a stick nor a natural straw - it isn’t a drinking straw - is going to be particularly effective in plugging up a hole. That’s the point. It’s a silly song about a guy who can’t fix his bucket and can’t seem to find a way to go to the market to buy a new one. Sheesh, what is it with people overlooking the funniness of the silly factor? :slight_smile:

What’s with the rain? The ants went “down and down into the ground and up the spout and through the drain”. :smiley:

Little did you realize that it wasn’t rain falling on the ants at all but water from Henry’s “leaking” bucket. Henry is merely using the hole as a justification to commit genocide against harmless insects.

Thus the interlocking quasi-geopolitical nature of these two songs relates directly to the Eastern Front of WW2. Henry is, of course, Hitler. Liza is Chamberlain, attempting to appease the tyrant. The ants obviously are Hitler’s victims.

Incidentally, you left out the third member of the trilogy, itsy-bitsy spider, which represents the struggle of the common man to overcome fascism.

Hmm. I may not be thinking of the same song, but the one I learned had the guy with the bucket called “Georgie,” not Henry. And he tried to plug with with a rock, not a straw or a stick.

As for the marching ants, I’d like to know the real words to the verses. The only ones I know are from my father, and I’m sure they’re not the real lyrics:

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah.
The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah.
The ants go marching two by two, the little one stops to tie his shoe.
And they all go marching on, to the ground, to get out of the rain (boom boom boom)

The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah.

The ants go marching three by three, the little one stops to take a pee.
And they all go marching on, to the ground, to get out of the rain (boom boom boom)

And so on. Four by four–stops to shut the door.
Five by five–tries to stay alive.

Now, I could buy most of this, but I had to hesitate at the “take a pee” line. Even at the age of 5, I had a sinking feeling that these were not the real words to the song. But, they’re the ones I know because that’s what my dad sang to me to comfort me as I was sick and waiting in line in the hot sun for the Country Bear Jamboree at Disney World, circa 1976. (I remember this as if it were yesterday, but can’t remember simple things from today, like meetings and appointments. Go figure.)

So anyway, are there any official lyrics to counter my dad’s lyrics?

It is perhaps time to bring back one of the classic texts of children’s rhyming songs and games. Me own Mamma O bought it for us years and years ago, and it provided countless hours of entertainment for us two learning new rhymes and other stuff just to be annoying with.

I speak of Sally Go Round the Sun. This thing was a veritable encyclofreakin’pedia of playground chants and songs - some very familiar, some totally way the hell out of left field. But all fun. I should see if I can wrest it from Mamma O’s grip for the Tzeroling, she’d probably dig it.

As for “The Ants Go Marching”, I believe the “three by three” line you’re looking for is “climb a tree”, IIRC. Anyone who actually has Sally to hand, feel free to correct me.

With a rock? …he tried to plug the hole with a rock? What on earth??

The version that I learned:

bucket->hole->fix it->stick->too big->cut it->ax->too dull->sharpen it->rock->too dry->wet it->bucket->hole
(and repeat until mom smacks you across the back of the head)

And as the ‘Ants go Marching’ song - we would take turns making up what the littlest was up to, making it a different song every time.

I’m pretty sure Dear Henry needed a stick to fix the bucket.

And the ants simply went marching down, under the ground.

Those commercials with the incy-wincy spider tick me off. What the heckowie is incy-wincy? I’ve always heard itsy-bitsy which means small.

Yes, I also found it quite odd that Georgie would use a rock to fill the hole in his bucket. But, it fit the song.
There’s a hole->fix it->with what?->with a rock->a rock’s too hard->so soften it->with what?->with water->but there’s a hole in my bucket.

It finished the cycle of the song, but I always wondered how you’re going to “soften” a rock with water. Nevertheless, that’s how I learned the song.

Somewhere around here, my wife has a book called “Joe’s Got a Head Like a Ping Pong Ball,” which sounds remarkably similar to “Sally Go Round the Sun” that Olentzero mentioned. I’ll look and see if I can find it.

We’ve always sung that the ants “all go marching/ down into the drain/ to get out/ of the rain”, which makes no sense whatsever but which does rhyme.
We always did hole in bucket/fix it/knife/too dull/sharpen it/with what/stone (a whetstone, I guess)/too dry/wet it/with what/with water (said very exhasperatedly)/with what to fetch it/bucket/hole in bucket. The one thing that doesn’t follow is how he planned to plug the hole with the knife, but we always concluded that he would use it to cut out some sort of plug.

The original lyrics are far different, and have nothing to do with ants.

This song was written around 1863. There is a similar Irish song called Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye. It is disputed as to which it the original, but the one above was taught in school when I was a kid. The ant versions are the inevitable parodies that pop up.

Well, I did know that “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” is the original song. I just wondered if there was an “official” set of parody lyrics involving the ants. Unfortunately, I had no luck locating the aforementioned book.

Another of Dad’s favorites (vaguely to the tune of “Sweet Adeline”): “Sweet Antoinette/Your pants are wet/You say it’s sweat/It’s pee, I’ll bet.”

Hmm. Maybe he just like singing about pee. :slight_smile: