Skip to My Lou

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"Skip to My Lou" is a popular children's song. Skip to My (The) Lou was a popular American partner-stealing dance from the 1840s.

In early America, some Puritans regarded the fiddle as a tool of the devil (since it led to dancing, which was regarded as sinful). Faced with such a religious obstacle to socializing, young people developed the “play-party,” in which the objectionable features of dancing were removed or masked. The dancers sang and the audience clapped to create rhythm for their own music. The play-party became a popular pastime for teenagers and young married couples. As people moved westward square dancing and barn dancing became acceptable, at least to some.

"Skip to My Lou" is a simple game of stealing partners (or swapping partners as in square dancing). It begins with any number of couples skipping hand in hand around in a ring. A lone boy in the center of the moving circle of couples sings, "Lost my partner, what'll I do?" as the girls whirl past him. The young man in the center hesitates while he decides which girl to choose, singing, “I'll get another one just like you.” When he grasps the hand of his chosen one, the latter's partner moves to the center of the ring the game. It's an ice-breaker, providing an opportunity for the participants to get acquainted with one another and to get into a good mood.

The "lou" in the title comes from the word "loo", a Scottish word for "love".[1][2][3]


Common version[edit]

Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,
Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,
Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,
Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.
(Changing verse here) (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.
The changing verse
  • Fly in the buttermilk, Shoo, fly, shoo.
  • There's a little red wagon, Paint it blue.
  • I lost my partner, What'll I do?
  • I'll get another, Prettier than you.
  • Can't get a red bird, Jay bird'll do.
  • Cat's in the cream jar, Ooh, ooh, ooh.
  • Off to Texas, Two by two.

Lou, Lou skip to my lou (x3) Skip to my Lou my darlin'

Another version[edit]

Flies in the buttermilk, Shoo fly shoo! (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darling.
Lou, Lou skip to my Lou! (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darling.
(sound sad) Lost my partner, What will I do? (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darling.
Lou, Lou skip to my Lou, (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darling.
(sound happy) I'll get another one just like you! (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darling!
Lou, Lou skip to my Lou! (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darling.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The song was frequently performed and recorded by Lead Belly, whose version was covered by Pete Seeger.
  • It was recorded by Judy Garland (1944) and Nat King Cole.
  • In 1963, the song was covered by The Fabulous Echoes on their LP album Those Fabulous Echoes with the Hong Kong-based Diamond Records.
  • An unconventional arrangement of this tune is featured in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis.
  • Ken Curtis's character in The Searchers, Charlie McCorry, plays the song as he attempts to court Laurie Jorgensen, played by Vera Miles.
  • "Skip to my Lou" is the nickname of NBA star Rafer Alston.
  • The song also appeared in The Shining, a Stephen King novel.
  • The song was also sung in an episode of each of the TV series: Dexter, The Virginian, Daniel Boone and "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" (episode 'Before the Dawn').
  • In Kidsongs' "A Day at Old MacDonald's Farm", the song was sung in a rock 'n' roll style when the jump-ropers are dancing. This song was also heard as an instrumental underscore at the beginning of "Play Along Songs" released in 1993.
  • Peter Sam sings his own song from this in a Thomas and Friends episode: "Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady".[4]
  • Another movie in which the song appears is Motherhood (film)
  • The song is sung in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.
  • The song is the basis for the square dance in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Hillbilly Hare" (1950).
  • The song was sung in the I Love Lucy episode "The Passports" (1955).
  • The Cedarmont Kids recorded the song on their 2002 album "Songs of America."
  • The song was parodied on the ITV sitcom Benidorm as "Skip to the Loo".


  1. ^ The Folk Songs of North America, by Alan Lomax, Doubleday.
  2. ^ Recordings on File by: Carter Family, Lead Belly, Mike & Peggy Seeger, Pete Seeger
  3. ^ "Songnotes | Old Town School of Folk Music". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  4. ^ The rendition goes "I'm Peter Sam, I'm running this line; I'm Peter Sam, I'm running this line."

LOU: Letter Of Understanding