Bang Bang Lulu

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"Bang Away Lulu" redirects here. For the World War II SOE operative, see Noor Inayat Khan.

"Bang Bang Lulu" is a traditional American song with many variations. It derives from older songs most commonly known as "Bang Bang Rosie" in Britain, "Bang Away Lulu" in Appalachia,[1] and "My Lula Gal" in the West.[2][7] The form "Bang Bang Lulu" became widespread in the United States from its use as a cadence during the World Wars. The song uses the tune of "Goodnight, Ladies".

Traditional song[edit]

All versions concern a woman and her various lovers. The early forms were sometimes very directly crude, violent, or infanticidal.[8] Published versions probably drastically understate the song's popularity,[1] particularly since the first mentions allude to 78[9] or 900[10] additional verses unfit for printing. Robert Gordon, the first head of the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Song, included his variants of Lulu among the "Inferno" section which was excluded from the library's general collection for its "bawdy and scatological subject matter".[11]

One verse appeared in Owen Wister's 1902 novel The Virginian:[9]

If you go to monkey with my Looloo girl,
I'll tell you what I'll do:
I'll cyarve out your heart with my razor, AND
I'll shoot you with my pistol, too—

Nine appeared in Carl Sandburg's 1927 American Songbag among its "Railroad and Work Gangs" songs, including Wister's and:[10]

My Lulu hugged and kissed me,
She wrung my hand and cried,
She said I was the sweetest thing
That ever lived or died.[12]
My Lulu's tall and slender,
My Lulu gal's tall and slim;
But the only thing that satisfies her
Is a good big drink of gin.
My Lulu gal's a daisy,
She wears a big white hat;
I bet your life when I'm in town
The dudes all hit the flat.
I ain't goin' to work on the railroad,
I ain't goin' to lie in jail,
But I'm goin' down to Cheyenne town
To live with my Lulu gal.
My Lulu, she's an angel,
Only she aint got no wings.
I guess I'll get her a wedding ring,
When the grass gets green next spring.
My Lulu, she's a dandy,
She stands and drinks like a man,
She calls for gin and brandy,
And she doesn't give a damn.
Engineer blowed the whistle,
Fireman rang the bell,
Lulu, in a pink kimona
Says, "Baby, oh fare you well."
I seen my Lulu in the springtime,
I seen her in the fall;
She wrote me a letter in the winter time,
Says, "Good-bye, honey," that's all.

Sandburg credited many of the verses he knew as derived from the 17th-century Scotch song "Way Up on Clinch Mountain",[13] now usually known as "Rye Whiskey".

Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseans recorded "When Lulu's Gone" under the pseudonym of the Bang Boys in 1936.[14] Another version—"Lulu"—was recorded by Oscar Brand on his 1958 Old Time Bawdy Sea Shanties. Verses from this song also developed into "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms", recorded by Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs and many others after them.[2]

Military cadences[edit]

Most military cadences suggested explicit rhymes but skipped back to the chorus rather than complete them:

...Lulu had a boyfriend
He drove a garbage truck
’Never got no garbage
’Cos all he did was
Bang bang Lulu
Lulu's gone away
Who's gonna bang bang
Now Lulu's gone away...[15]

...Lulu has an uncle (whoa)
Her uncle's name is Chuck
Every time he's at her house
She'd always want to
Bang bang Lulu
Lulu has gone away
Bang bang Lulu
Lulu is here to stay...[3]

...Lulu had a chicken
She also had a duck
She put them on the table
To see if they would
Bang away on Lulu
Bang away all day
Who you gonna bang on
When Lulu's gone away?...[16]


A Calypso version of the military cadences was recorded by The Merrymen on their 1967 album Sing And Swing With The Merrymen.[6] From there, the song was recorded by early Ska musicians like Lloyd Charmers in the 1970s and then later covered by various pop artists including Goombay Dance Band and Boney M.

Bang Bang Lulu were also a Ska and Soul revival band in the UK. They formed in 2005 and released the album Ska Wars.[17][18]

Boney M.[edit]

"Bang Bang Lulu"
Single by Boney M.
from the album Eye Dance
Released June 1986
Format 7" Single, 12" Single
Recorded 1985
Genre Pop
Length 3:31 (7" mix)
3:58 (12" mix)
Label Hansa Records (FRG)
Carrere (UK)
Writer(s) Traditional, Frank Farian
Producer(s) Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Daddy Cool (Anniversary Recording '86)"
"Bang Bang Lulu"
"Rivers of Babylon (Remix)"

"Bang Bang Lulu" was a 1986 single by the German band Boney M. It was taken from their final album, the 1985 Eye Dance. The single failed to chart, and the group—having disbanded after their 10th anniversary—didn't promote it. It was originally intended for Liz Mitchell to sing, but she found the lyrics vulgar and refused to do it. Instead, Reggie Tsiboe did the lead vocals, backed by session singers Amy & Elaine Goff.


  • "Bang Bang Lulu" (7" single remix) - 3:31 / "Calendar Song" (Farian) - 2:37 (Hansa 108 395-100, Germany)
  • "Bang Bang Lulu" (12" remix) - 3:58 / "Calendar Song" - 2:37 / "Chica da Silva" - 4:35 (Hansa 608 395-213, Germany)

See also[edit]

When Hector Lavoe wrote the Chechecole song, he was inspired by this song.


  1. ^ a b Cray, Ed. The Erotic Muse: American Bawdy Songs 2nd ed., p. 173 ff. UIP (Champaign), 1999. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  2. ^ a b Logsdon, Guy. The Whorehouse Bells Are Ringing and Other Songs Cowboys Sing, pp. 154 ff. 1995 reprint of UIP (Champaign), 1989. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Bang Bang" at Army Study Guide. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Bang Bang Lulu" at Second Hand Songs. 17 Aug 2007. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  5. ^ a b Talley, Thomas. Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise and Otherwise, p. 131. Macmillan Co. (New York), 1922. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  6. ^ a b Holm, Åke. "Bang Bang Lu Lu". Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  7. ^ Other titles include "Bang Bang";[3] "When Lulu's Gone"; "Bang Away, My Lulu"; "She Is a Lulu";[4] "She hugged me and kissed me";[5] or versions with the name replaced by Lu Lu,[6] Rosie, Suzie, Lula, & al.[4]
  8. ^ Lomax, John & al. American Ballads and Folk Songs, §VII. "Cocaine and Whiskey", pp. 182 ff. 1994 reprint of Macmillan Co. (New York), 1934. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  9. ^ a b Wister, Owen. The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains, §IX. Macmillan Co. (New York), 1902.
  10. ^ a b Sandburg, Carl. American Songbag, pp. 378 ff. 1927. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  11. ^ Horntip, Jack & al., ed. "The Robert W. Gordon 'Inferno' Collection in the Archive of Folk Song, Library of Congress". 2006. Accessed 14 Jan 2014.
  12. ^ An expansion of this verse—as "She hug me, an' she kiss me"—is included among the "Love Song Rhyme Section" of Thomas Talley's 1922 Negro Folk Rhymes.[5]
  13. ^ Sandberg (1927), pp. 307 ff.
  14. ^ Schlappi, Elizabeth. Roy Acuff, the Smoky Mountain Boy, p. 28. 1997 reprint of Pelican Publishing (Gretna), 1978.
  15. ^ Fry, Ron. "Bang Bang Lulu" at Ron Fry's MIDI Files. 2002. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  16. ^ The Mudcat Cafe. "Naughty Kids' Greatest Hits". Oct 1997. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.
  17. ^ Bang Bang Lulu. Official website. 2012. Accessed 14 Jan 2014.
  18. ^ Myspace. Bang Bang Lulu. 2009. Accessed 14 Jan 2014.