Swinging the Alphabet
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"Swinging the Alphabet" is a novelty song sung by The Three Stooges in their 1938 film, Violent Is the Word for Curly. It is the only full-length song performed by the Stooges in their short films, and the only time they mimed to their own pre-recorded soundtrack.
In 2005, film historian Richard Finegan identified the composer of the song as Septimus Winner (1827-1902), who had originally published it in 1875 as "The Spelling Bee".
B-A-bay, B-E-bee, B-I-bicky-bi, B-O bo, bicky-bi bo, B-U bu, bicky bi bo bu.
C-A-cay, C-E-cee, C-I-cicky-ci, C-O co, cicky-ci co, C-U cu, cicky ci co cu.
D-A-day, D-E-dee, D-I-dicky-di, D-O do, dicky-di do, D-U du, dicky di do du.
F-A-fay, F-E-fee, F-I-ficky-fi, F-O fo, Ficky-fi fo, F-U fu, ficky fi fo fu.
G-A-gay, G-E-gee, G-I-gicky-gi, G-O go, Gicky-gi go, G-U gu, gicky gi go gu.
H-A-hay, H-E-hee, H-I-hicky-hi, H-O ho, hicky-hi ho, H-U hu, hicky hi ho hu.
J-A-jay, J-E-jee, J-I-jicky-ji, J-O jo, Jicky-ji jo, J-U ju, jicky ji jo ju
K-A-kay, K-E-kee, K-I-kicky-ki, K-O ko, Kicky-ki ko, K-U ku, kicky ki ko ku.
L-A-lay, L-E-lee, L-I-licky-li, L-O lo, Licky-li lo, L-U lu, licky li lo lu. (Curly's a dope)
M-A-may, M-E-mee, M-I-micky-mi, M-O mo, Micky-mi mo, M-U mu, micky mi mo mu.
In the 1959 re-recording of "The Alphabet Song/Swinging The Alphabet" with Moe, Larry and Curly Joe, the letters "G", "J", "M" and the "Curly's a dope" line were omitted and seven new lyrics featuring the letters "N" (N-A-nay, N-E-nee, N-I-nicky-ni, N-O-no, Nicky-ni no, N-U-nu, Nicky ni no nu), "P" (P-A-pay, P-E-pee, P-I-picky-pi, P-O-po, Picky-pi po, P-U-pu, picky pi po pu) "R" (R-A-ray, R-E-ree, R-I-ricky-ri, R-O-ro, Ricky-ri-ro, R-U-ru, ricky ri ro ru), "S" (S-A-say, S-E-see, S-I-sicky-si, S-O-so, Sicky-si-so, S-U-su, sicky si so su), "T" (T-A-tay T-E-tee, T-I-ticky-ti, T-O-to, Ticky-ti-to, T-U-tu, ticky ti to tu), "V" (V-A-vay, V-E-vee, V-I-vicky-vi, V-O-vo, Vicky-vi-vo, V-U-vu, vicky vi vo vu), and "Z" (Z-A-zay, Z-E-zee, Z-I-zicky-zi, Z-O-zo, Zicky-zi-zo, Z-U-zu, zicky zi zo zu) were added to the song.
The original lyrics of Septimus Winner's "Spelling Bee" (aka "Ba Be Bi Bo Bu") were slightly different:
B-A bA; B-E bE; B-I, bA-bE-bI; B-O bO, bA-bE-bI-bO; B-U bu, bA-bE-bI-bO-bu.
- This song also appeared on several Three Stooges records around 1959 to the 1960s with that era's Stooges (Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe DeRita).
- The lip-synching is a bit "off" in spots, particularly among the "chorus" of students who accompany the Stooges. Also, during Curly's solo on the letters in which the students call him a dope, "K" and "L," he rushes the tempobeat on the tongue-tying lyrics, forcing the backing singers to keep up with him.
- "The Alphabet Song" is performed by cast members in the 1980 film Forbidden Zone. Most of the lyrics of the Stooges original are retained, although a sexual double-entendre is added with a verse that goes "G is gay" and the F verse includes a use of the F-word.
- Malcolm McLaren recorded a song called "B.I. Bikki" for his 1985 contractual obligation album Swamp Thing that features lyrics very similar to this.
- Dale Gribble says the beginning verse of this song in the King of the Hill episode "A Firefighting We Will Go", shortly before being interrupted by Hank Hill.
- The song is played during the radio-trivia minigame in Cinemaware's Three Stooges video game.
- Gene Vincent had a minor hit in 1956 with "B. I. Bicky Bi, Bo Bo Go," adapted from a song by rockabilly songwriter Don Carter entitled "Bi I Bicky Bi Bo Bo Boo," an apparent nod to the Stooges song. Brian Setzer references this title in his Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran tribute song "Gene and Eddie."
- The song lyrics are spoken by Ronald Reagan in an X-Presidents skit on Saturday Night Live in an attempt to communicate with members of al Qaeda guarding Osama bin Laden.
- See Wier, Albert E. (1918). The Book of a Thousand Songs. New York: Carl Fischer Inc. p. 36.
- Dickerson, Dale (2013-04-22). "More than you ever wanted to know about the Gene Vincent song "B-I-Bickey-Bi-Bo-Bo-Go"". Musings Of A Muleskinner. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
- The Three Stooges perform "Swinging the Alphabet" in Violent Is the Word for Curly