Bang Bang Lulu

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"Bang Bang Lulu" is a traditional American song with many variations. It derives from older songs most commonly known as "Bang Bang Rosie" in Ireland, "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 on p. 96 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]

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:


A Calypso version of the military cadences was recorded by The Merrymen on their 1967 album Sing And Swing With The Merrymen. 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]

A Boeing B-17G-100-BO 43-38905 of the 708th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group (H) was named "Bang Bang Lulu" based at Rattlesden, Suffolk, U.K.

Boney M. version[edit]

"Bang Bang Lulu"
Boney M. - Bang Bang Lulu (1986 single).jpg
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)
Songwriter(s) Traditional, Frank Farian
Producer(s) Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Daddy Cool (Anniversary Recording '86)"
"Bang Bang Lulu"
"Rivers of Babylon (Remix)"

"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]


  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. ^ Cite error: The named reference mm was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  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 Archived January 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.". 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.