Raffi vs. West Ham United

So there I was, minding my own business, taking care of the wee one. My wife had slipped a Raffi CD in the player. I used to hate the bearded one, but seeing the effect it has on an irritable one year old has made me a little more tolerant. The song “There Came A Girl From France” comes on and immediately takes the place of “Lady Marmalade” in my can’t-shake-this-song portion of my brain. The part of the Raffi song that goes “Knee’s Up Mother Brown” ad infinitum is on auto-repeat.

I’m e-grousing about this to a friend one day and want to include a snippet of lyrics, so a Google-ing I go. I type in “Knee’s Up Mother Brown” and the majority of the results are for an unofficial West Ham United football club fan site called “Knee’s Up Mother Brown”.

I’ve searched the boards for this, but didn’t find much. So my question is what is this “Knee’s Up Mother Brown” thing anyway? I find it hard to believe that there is a connection between a Canadian children’s singer and British soccer hooligans (obnoxious stereotyping by an ignorant American inlcuded at no charge).

My best WAG is that is was originally a British drinking song that somehow morphed into a kid’s tune. C’mon UK dopers, what’s the deal?

I opened this thread thinking it had to do with a Monty Python sketch about a game show with Karl Marx as the contestant trying to answer the question, “The ‘Hammers’ is the name of what English Football Team?”

Did you get down to this site, http://www.quesera-sera.com/knnesup.htm ,
which seems to say that it was recorded by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.

Funny. After I posted, I thought of the Python sketch featuring the gynecologists vs. the Long John Silver look-alikes. My mind had a whole field of Raffis with parrots on their shoulders getting whalloped by the Hammers.

I just looked at the que-sera-sera site. No lyrics, so it’s tough to tell, but it does reinforce the theory that it goes back to a drinking song. Great, now I have a mental image of Raffi getting totally blotto in a pub singing this song with a wench on each knee.

According to this link


its an old english song best associated with London. Hence the West Ham connection.

IIRC, one of the Monty Python albums has the Spanish Inquisition guys (Inquisitors?) rushing in at the end of the album and singing Knees Up Mother Brown. It fades out, and that’s the end of the album.

I have absolutely nothing to support this but I’ve always thought the songs popularity dates back to the days of Music Hall. From there, it wouldn’t be long until songs such as this gained popularity and became part of the Saturday night sing-a-long at the local pub (accompanied by piano) – very much an East London tradition (coincidentally or not, that’s also the location of West Ham F.C.) and one at which the whole family would attend. ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ is very much a part of that tradition and endures today.

There is a dance – of sorts – that accompanies this ditty that every Granny capable of standing insists on leading the way whenever the song (inevitably) rears its head at Wedding Receptions and other festivities – it’s in the traditional of community which was uniquely strong in that part of London - and they make sure everyone joins in.

After ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ is done, it’s only a matter of time before ‘The Okey Cokey’ …

Oh gods, you mean this is the UK equivalent of the Electric Slide, the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey? Makes sense I guess, the Raffi version does go on the other verses about “Hopping on one foot” and “Twirling on the other”. Thanks for all the good responses.

I’m still slightly baffled by how this song relates to the Hammers, but I think it’s because I have a poor understanding of British pubs, something I must remedy. I love the idea of pub sing-alongs, so much better than trying to chat up the girl next to you while DJ Disaster has his volume knobs set to “bleeding ears”. The only slightly British pub I’ve been in is the “Rose and Crown” in (of all places) downtown Waikiki. I witnessed a few good sing-alongs there, with the obligatory piano player of course.

Just an educated guess (from a position 400 miles or so north of West Ham), pcubed, but it might be a song the West Ham fans sing on the terraces. One of my workmates is English (Man City fan, FWIW) and tells me that the Hammers fans are famous for singing “I’m forever blowing bubbles” - another similar old music hall song.

Each team’s supporters like to have something to distinguish themselves from all the other teams’ supporters (who are, by definition, appallingly homogeneous :wink: ) and songs - even kitsch ones like KUMB - are a popular method.

Well, I don’t want to convey the impression the pub sing-a-long is still something we all rush out to do on a Saturday night. It’s rather faded along with that sense of community that was once so strong in the East End - fings was never the same once the Jerries rearranged the furniture in the Blitz.

However, toons like ‘Knees Up Muvver Brown’ do still live in families where that sing-along tradition did exist i.e. primarily the working classes of the East End and thereby can’t be avoided at family type functions (Weddings, Criminal Trials, Parole Hearings…)

I guess its still a West Ham song for those same traditional reasons - West Ham is a family type club and is situated right in the middle of the old East End - given how the songs are still sung at family affairs, the West Ham singing is just another way of rekindling that old community spirit.

And Gawd bless ya all.

Well, as a cockney by birth, with lots of East End relatives, I can confirm that “Knees up Mother Brown” and “The Okey Cokey” are sung and danced at every family wedding I’ve ever been to.

Doin’ the Lambeth walk is another soccer song related to a London club but I’m not sure which.

You can understand Londoners singing on the terraces to try and entertain themselves, its all they have left to do since all the trophies are won by Northern clubs :slight_smile:

Can I remind you of a certain London club winning the First Division last season.

You Brits are starting to worry me. I already knew about Liverpool supporters breaking into “You’ll Never Walk Alone” after a win - it’s kinda cute, being an inspirational tune and all, and no worse than “Tubthumping”. I even knew about certain cheers of other clubs set to tunes one might consider inappropriate for the circumstances - it’s a little strange to hear the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with drunkenly-incoherent alternate words during a game, too.

“Knees Up, Mother Brown”, though ??? The only comparable image that comes to mind for this Yank would be Green Bay Packer fans simultaneously singing “I’m a Little Teapot” to celebrate beating the Bears. Could it be some new kind of cultural rebellion now that the traditional riots and beatings in the stadiums are being better suppressed?

Do ALL British clubs have their own special songs? Is there a list somewhere, with any kind of explanation of the connection?