My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean

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For the Tony Sheridan recording, see My Bonnie.

"My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean" is a traditional Scottish folk song which remains popular in Western culture.


Although the song's origin is uncertain, its subject may be Charles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie'):[1] after the defeat of the Prince at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and his subsequent exile, his Jacobite supporters could have sung the tune in his honour; and thanks to the ambiguity of the term "bonnie", which can refer to a woman as well as to a man, they could pretend it was a love song.

In 1881, under the duo of pseudonyms H.J. Fuller and J.T. Wood, Charles E. Pratt published sheet music for "Bring Back My Bonnie to Me".[2][3][4] Theodore Raph in his 1964 book American song treasury: 100 favorites, writes that people were requesting the song at sheet music stores in the 1870s, and Pratt was convinced to publish a version of it under the pseudonyms, and the song became a big hit, especially popular with college singing groups but also popular for all group singing situations.[3]


Anne Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me...
Bring back
O,Bring back my Bonnie to me
Bring back
O,Bring back Anne Bonnie to me
Last night as I lay on my pillow
Last night as I lay on my bed
Last night as I lay on my pillow
I Dreamt that Anne Bonnie was dead
Oh blow the winds o'er the ocean
And blow the winds o'er the sea
Oh blow the winds o'er the ocean
And bring back my Bonnie to me
Bring back
O,Bring back my Bonnie to me
Bring back
O,Bring back Anne Bonnie to me
The winds have blown over the ocean
The winds have blown over the sea
The winds have blown over the ocean
And brought back Anne Bonnie to me
Keep from danger


There are numerous variations and parodies of the song. Many of these are a result of the song being sung often to children and being a common campfire song for organisations such as the Boy Scouts.[5] These campfire versions are occasionally accompanied by interactive movements, such as sitting down or standing up every time a word that begins with the letter "b" is sung[citation needed].

My Bonnie leaned over the gas tank,
The height of its contents to see,
I lit a small match to assist her,
O Bring back my Bonnie to me.

Repeat chorus

Last night as I lay on my pillow,
Last night as I lay on my bed,
I stuck my feet out of the window,
In the morning the neighbors were dead.

Repeat chorus

My mother makes beer in the bathtub,
My father makes synthetic gin,
My sister makes fudge for a quarter,
Wouldja believe how the money rolls in?

Repeat chorus

My mother, she drowned in the bathtub,
My father, he died from his gin,
My sister choked on her chocolate,
My stars, what a fix I am in.

Repeat chorus

I tried making beer in the bathtub,
I tried making synthetic gin,
I tried making fudge for a living,
Now look at the shape that I'm in.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Fleischer brothers filmed this song in DeForest Phonofilm, part of their Song Car-Tunes series, released 15 September 1925, and notable as the first film to use the ‘follow the bouncing ball’ technique.[6][7]
  • My Bunny Lies Over The Sea, a short ‘Bugs Bunnycartoon film whose title parodies the song, was released by Warner Brothers in 1948.[8]
  • In the Abbott and Costello film The Naughty Nineties (June 20, 1945), Costello auditions for Captain Sam's riverboat show by singing "My Bonnie". Behind him, Abbott shouts directions to the stage crew in setting up a backdrop curtain ("Move it to the left", "Lower", "Higher", "Lift up the right leg", etc.) Oblivious to this, Costello thinks Abbott is directing him and follows his every command, moving to the left, singing higher, lower, and so forth.
  • In the film I Want to Live (1958),[9] starring Susan Hayward and Simon Oakland, and directed by Robert Wise, the song is sung by a female prisoner when Barbara Graham (Hayward) is first incarcerated. The singing of the song is given clear lesbian overtones.
  • The song plays a prominent role in the I Love Lucy episode "The Quiz Show" (first aired November 12, 1951).
  • Duane Eddy hit the US Top 30 and UK Top 15 in 1960 with an instrumental rock and roll version titled "Bonnie Came Back"
  • A rock n' roll arrangement of the song, entitled just 'My Bonnie', was recorded in 1961 by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, peaking at #5 on the Hit Parade in West Germany. (The 'Beat Brothers' were actually The Beatles – record executives felt their not-yet-famous real name was too phonetically similar to a German obscenity – and the recording was re-released on the Anthology 1 compilation album in 1995.)[10]
  • In the Sam Fuller film Shock Corridor (1963) [11] the song is sung by a 'nymphomaniac' in one of the scenes in the psychiatric hospital. The song creates a menacing atmosphere, leading up to the attack by a group of nymphomaniacs on the film's protagonist, journalist Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck).
  • On December 20, 2011, JibJab released a video about the year 2011 in review with a song called "2011, Buh-Bye", to the tune of the title song.[12]
  • Laura Wright recorded a version, featured on her album The Last Rose (2011)
  • Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch sings a potion of the song in the episode "Dreama, the Mouse" (2000)


  1. ^ Herman Finer (1956). Governments of greater European powers: a comparative study of the governments and political culture of Great Britain, France, Germany, and the Soviet Union, Volume 1. Holt. p. 178. 
  2. ^ Burton, Jack. The blue book of Tin Pan Alley: a human interest encyclopedia of American popular music, Volume 1, p. 9, 47 (1965)
  3. ^ a b Raph, Theodore. The American song treasury: 100 favorites, pp. 201–03 (1964)
  4. ^ Herder, Ronald. 500 best-loved song lyrics, p. 231 (1998)
  5. ^ Campfire Song Book - Audience participation songs
  6. ^ John Grant (2001). Masters of Animation. Watson–Guptill. ISBN 0-8230-3041-5. 
  7. ^ IMDb entry
  8. ^ Warner Brothers (1948) My Bunny Lies Over The Sea at the Internet Movie Database; Animation, Short, Comedy
  9. ^ IMDB entry
  10. ^ Everett, Walter (2001). The Beatles As Musicians: The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514105-4. 
  11. ^ IMDb entry
  12. ^