A-Tisket, A-Tasket

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"A Tisket A Tasket"
Roud #13188
Written by Traditional
Written USA
Language English
Form Nursery rhyme
Recorded by Ella Fitzgerald (1938)

A Tisket A Tasket is a nursery rhyme first recorded in America in the late nineteenth century.[1][2] It was used as the basis for a very successful and highly regarded 1938 recording by Ella Fitzgerald. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 13188.

Traditional lyrics[edit]

The rhyme was first noted in the United States in 1879 [3] as a children's rhyming game. It was sung while children danced in a circle. One of the number ran on the outside of the circle and dropped a handkerchief. The nearest child would then pick it up and chase the dropper. If caught the dropper was either kissed, joined the circle, or had to tell the name of their sweetheart.[2] An early noted version had the lyrics:

A-tisket a-tasket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I dropped it,
I dropped it,
I dropped it,
And on the way I dropped it.
A little boy he picked it up and put it in his pocket.[2]

In some variants, the second line is "I lost my yellow basket". In other variants, the last line is "A little girl picked it up and put it in her pocket".

In nineteenth-century England, the rhyme used in the same game had somewhat different but evidently related words:

I lost my supper, last night,
And the night before,
And if I do this night,
I never will no more.
I sent a letter to my love,
I carried water in my glove,
And by the way I dropped it, I did so, I did so:
I had a little dog that said bow-wow!
I had a little cat that said meow-meow!
Shan't bite you, shan't bite you,
Shall bite you.
I dropt it, I dropt it,
And by the way I lost it.[4]

Lyrics by Ella Fitzgerald[edit]

Ella Fitzgerald, in conjunction with Al Feldman, (later known as Van Alexander), extended and embellished the rhyme into a jazz piece which was her breakthrough hit with the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1938. It has since become a jazz standard.[3] A follow-up song written by Fitzgerald and Webb entitled "I Found My Yellow Basket" (1938) was less successful.

In popular culture[edit]

As a recording[edit]

  • In 1938 the rhyme was used as the basis for a song written by Al Feldman and Ella Fitzgerald. Ella's recording of this song in 1938 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1986, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance".[5] The song was a major hit of the "pre-chart" era, reaching #1 in Billboard's sheet music and Record Buying Guide (jukebox) charts, also #1 on "Your Hit Parade".[6] Fitzgerald also performed the song in Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942).[7]
  • Briefly sung in the animated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon Magical Maestro (1952), directed by Tex Avery.
  • Also appears in part on Stevie Ray Vaughan's 1983 Album "Texas Flood : Mary had a little Lamb"
  • The rhyme is mentioned in the song "Past, Present and Future" by The Shangri-Las. "You know I used to sing - a-tisket a-tasket a green and yellow basket / I'm all packed up and I'm on my way and I'm gonna fall in love"
  • Appears in the 1986 Kidsongs video "Good Night, Sleep Tight".
  • Appears in Method Man's remix of Method Man "Rap flow is bangin' like butter on a biscuit A tisket, a tasket I'm not tryin' to have it"
  • Also a part of the song is included in the rap song "Define Better" by Chill E.B. "A tisket, a tasket her mid is in a basket"
  • The phrase "A tisket, a tasket" also features in the Eminem song "Without Me"

On film[edit]

In novels[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

During the early years of the AIDS epidemic in America in the 1980s, the first two lines of the rhyme were modified to form a safe sex slogan: "A-tisket, a-tasket, a condom or a casket."

In the late 1980s, a reworded version was used in TV commercials for Tyco's "Super Dough Flower Makin' Basket": A tisket, a tasket, a flower making basket. Works like magic, smells so nice, you'll see it's just fantastic.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ W. E. Studwell and M. Baldin, The big band reader: songs favored by swing era orchestras and other popular ensembles (Haworth Press, 2000), p. 35.
  2. ^ a b c Brewster, Paul G. (1976). Children's games and rhymes Volume 1 of Studies in play and games. Volume 1 of Studies in play and games. Ayer Publishing,. pp. 82 section C. ISBN 0-405-07914-1. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  3. ^ a b Studwell, William Emmett; Baldin, Mark (2000). The big band reader: songs favored by swing era orchestras and other popular ensembles - Resources in music history. Routledge. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7890-0914-2. 
  4. ^ Northall, G. F. English Folk-Rhymes: A collection of traditional verses relating to places and persons, customs, superstitions, etc. 1892. pg. 364
  5. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame Database
  6. ^ Songs from the Year 1938 - The World's Music Charts at tsort.info (retrieved 2010-1-22)
  7. ^ Parlor songs