Reuben and Rachel

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Reuben and Rachel is a traditional song written by Harry Birch (words) and William Gooch (melody). Originally published in Boston in 1871,[1] the song has regained popularity as a children's song.[2]

The first line of the song, "Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking," was reused in the very popular song at the close of World War I (1919), "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?."[3]

It was often sung on the playgrounds as: "Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking what in the world have you been drinking? Smells like whiskey, tastes like wine. Oh my gosh! It's turpentine!" The melody has often been used for parodies, such as Bowser and Blue's "Where The Sun Don't Shine! (The Colorectal Surgeon's Song)".

Lyrics[edit]

Reuben & Rachel

Reuben, I have long been thinking, what a good world this might be,
If the men were all transported far beyond the Northern Sea.
Rachel, I have long been thinking, what a fine world this might be,
If we had some more young ladies on this side the Northern Sea.

Refrain: Too-ral-loo-ral-loo, too-ral-loo-ral, too-ral-loo-ral-loo, too-ral-loo-ral-lee,
If ... the Northern Sea.

Reuben, I'm a poor lone woman. No one seems to care for me;
I wish the men were all transported far beyond the Northern Sea.
I'm a man without a victim. Soon I think there's one will be,
If the men are not transported far beyond the Northern Sea.

Refrain

Reuben, what's the use of fooling, why not come up like a man?
If you'd like to have a lover, I'm for life your Sally Ann.
Oh my goodness! Oh my gracious! What a queer world this would be,
If the men were all transported far beyond the Northern Sea.

Refrain

Reuben, now do stop your teasing, if you've any love for me.
I was only just a-fooling, as I thought of course you'd see.
Rachel, I will not transport you, but will take you for a wife.
We will live on milk and honey, better or worse, we're in for life.

Harry Birch, date unknown, published in 1871 by White, Smith & Perry, Boston.
Source: Jackson, Richard, ed. Popular Songs of Nineteenth-Century America. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1976) 181.

Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking
What a queer world this would be
If the men were all transported
Far beyond the Northern Sea!
Rachel, Rachel, I've been thinking
What a queer world this would be
If the girls were all transported
Far beyond the Northern Sea!

Chorus:
Too-ral-loo-ral-loo, Too-ral-loo-ral,
Too-ral-loo-ral-loo, Too-ral-lee
Far beyond the Northern Sea!

Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking
Life would be so easy then;
What a lovely world this would be
If there were no tiresome men!
Rachel, Rachel, I've been thinking
Life would be so easy then;
What a lovely world this would be
If you'd leave it to the men!

(Chorus)

Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking
If we went beyond the seas,
All the men would follow after
Like a swarm of bumble-bees!
Rachel, Rachel, I've been thinking
If we went beyond the seas,
All the girls would follow after
Like a swarm of honey-bees!

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Americana song reader By William Emmett Studwell (Psychology Press, 1997)
  2. ^ Folk Songs for Schools and Camps By Jerry Silverman (Mel Bay Publications, 1991)
  3. ^ The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

External links[edit]