Aiken Drum

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"Aiken Drum"
Nursery rhyme
Written c. 1715
Published 1821 (1821)
Language Scots, English

"Aiken Drum" is a popular Scottish folk song and nursery rhyme, which probably has its origins in a Jacobite song about the Battle of Sheriffmuir (1715). It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 2571.

Lyrics[edit]

Modern versions of the lyrics include:

There was a man lived in the moon, lived in the moon, lived in the moon,
There was a man lived in the moon,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

Chorus
And he played upon a ladle, a ladle, a ladle,
And he played upon a ladle,
and his name was Aiken Drum.

And his hat was made of good cream cheese, of good cream cheese, of good cream cheese,
And his hat was made of good cream cheese,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his coat was made of good roast beef, of good roast beef, of good roast beef,
And his coat was made of good roast beef,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his buttons made of penny loaves, of penny loaves, of penny loaves,
And his buttons made of penny loaves,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his waistcoat was made of crust pies, of crust pies, of crust pies,
And his waistcoat was made of crust pies,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his breeches made of haggis bags, of haggis bags, of haggis bags,
And his breeches made of haggis bags,
And his name was Aiken Drum.[1]

Other versions of the song include the lyrics:

His hat was made of guid cream cheese,

His coat was made of fine rost beef,

His buttons were made of bawbee baps, (a bread roll, costing a halfpenny),

His breeks (/breechs) were made of haggis sacks.

Origins[edit]

The rhyme was first printed by James Hogg in Jacobite Reliques in 1820, as a Jacobite song about the Battle of Sheriffmuir (1715) which includes the words:

Ken you how a Whig can fight,
Aikendrum, Aikendrum?
Ken you how a Whig can fight, Aikendrum?
He can fight the hero bright,
With swift heels and armour light,
And his wind of heav'nly might, Aikendrum, Aikendrum!
Is not Rowley in the right, Aikendrum?[2]

Sir Walter Scott in his novel The Antiquary (1816) refers to Aiken Drum in a story told by an old beggar about the origins of what has been perceived by the protagonist as a Roman fort. The beggar tells him that it was actually built by him and others for "auld Aiken Drum's bridal" and that one of the masons cut the shape of a ladle into the stone as a joke on the bridegroom. The reference suggests that the rhyme, and particularly the chorus, was well enough known in the early nineteenth century for the joke to be understood.[3]

Aiken Drum is also the name given by the balladeer William Nicholson to the fairy the "Brounie o Blednoch" (1825) in the poem of that name.[4][5] Although this has led some folklorists to speculate that the song may derive from older fairy legends, there is no evidence of the name being used for a brownie before this point, and it may have been borrowed from the existing song.

Performances[edit]

The Scottish storytelling group, Macastory, perform this song for children in an interactive way by allowing the children to decide the foods of which Aiken Drum is made. One such version recorded by The Singing Kettle is included on their CD Singalong Songs from Scotland, produced in 2003 for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.[6]

Popular Armenian-Canadian children's singer Raffi played a version of the song, called "Aikendrum," on his album Singable Songs for the Very Young (1976).[7]

The US children's TV series Barney & Friends has a version of the song that is sung entirely about his face. The foods used are spaghetti for his hair, cheese for his nose, meatballs for his eyes, and pizza for his mouth.

References in popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 52-4.
  2. ^ B. H. Bronson, The Ballad as Song (Berkeley CA: University of California Press, 1969), ISBN 0-520-01399-9, p. 33.
  3. ^ Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary (1816), accessed 25/04/09.
  4. ^ "The Brounie o Blednoch" Online version accessed 2006-07-07.
  5. ^ Briggs, Katharine, Encyclopedia of Fairies, 1976, p. 2
  6. ^ Cd liner notes: The Singing Kettle — Singalong Songs from Scotland, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2003.
  7. ^ R. Reid, Children's Jukebox: A Subject Guide to Musical Recordings and Programming Ideas for Songsters Ages One to Twelve, (ALA Editions, 1995), p. 98.
  8. ^ J. May, The Nonborn King; The Adversary (Doubleday, 1984).