Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sheet music cover page for "Shoo Fly" (1869)

"Shoo, Fly, Don't Bother Me!" is a song that was most likely written by T. Brigham Bishop[1] and first published in 1869 by White, Smith & Perry. It has remained popular since that time. Today, it is commonly sung by children, and has been recorded on many children's records, including Disney Children's Favorite Songs 3, performed by Larry Groce and the Disneyland Children's Sing-Along Chorus.

The song remained popular over the decades, and was commonly sung by soldiers during the Spanish–American War of 1898, when flies and the yellow fever mosquito were a serious enemy.

Composition[edit]

According to Bishop's account, he wrote "Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me" during the Civil War while assigned to command a company of black soldiers. One of the soldiers, dismissing some remarks of his fellow soldiers, exclaimed "Shoo fly, don't bother me," which inspired Bishop to write the song, including in the lyrics the unit's designation, "Company G". The song was reportedly "pirated" from Bishop and he made little money from it.[2] Bishop did publish a sheet music version of the song in 1869, which includes the caption, "Original Copy and Only Authorized Edition."[3]

Other sources have credited Billy Reeves (lyrics) and Frank Campbell, or Rollin Howard, with the song.[4] The first group to popularize the song was Bryant's Minstrels in 1869-70.[2][5] An early publication appeared as "Shew! Fly, Don't Bother Me. Comic Song and Dance or Walk Round. Sung by Cool Burgess and Rollin Howard, melody by Frank Campbell, words by Billy Reeves, arr. by Rollin Howard." [6][7]

Lyrics[edit]

The lyrics are public domain:[8]


Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
For I belong to somebody.

I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star,
I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star.

Oh, shoo, fly, don't bother me,
Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
For I belong to somebody.

The lyrics have been altered to remove content from the original song long considered offensive, so that today only the chorus is sung. The original version reads thus:[6]


I think I hear the angels sing,
I think I hear the angels sing,
I think I hear the angels sing,
The angels now are on the wing.

I feel, I feel, I feel,
That's what my mother said,
The angels pouring 'lasses down,
Upon this [[]]'s head.

Shew! fly, don't bother me,
Shew! fly, don't bother me,
Shew! fly, don't bother me,
I belong to Comp'ny G.

I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star,
I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star.
I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star.
I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star.

If I sleep in the sun this knows,
If I sleep in the sun this knows,
If I sleep in the sun this knows,
A fly come sting him on the nose.

I feel, I feel, I feel,
That's what my mother said,
Whenever this goes to sleep,
He must cover up his head.

Shew! fly, don't bother me,
Shew! fly, don't bother me,
Shew! fly, don't bother me,
I belong to Comp'ny G.

I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star,
I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star.
I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star.
I feel, I feel, I feel,
I feel like a morning star.

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1998 film A Bug's Life, one of the characters references the song's title. The Australian children's show Play School recorded a version for the albums There's A Bear In There, sung by Noni Hazlehurst, and In The Car, sung by John Hamblin.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Monday, July 01, 1935 (1935-07-01). "Music: Hymn from Maine". Time. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  2. ^ a b (8 November 1905). The Author of "Shoo Fly", Reading Eagle (stating that T. Allston Brown, had vouched for this account)
  3. ^ Shoo Fly, Duke University library collection
  4. ^ The blue book of Tin Pan Alley, p. 9 (1965)
  5. ^ Cropsey, Eugene H. Crosby's Opera House: symbol of Chicago's cultural awakening, p. 270 (1999)
  6. ^ a b "Shew! Fly, Don't Bother Me" Words and music: T. Brigham Bishop (?); pub.:White, Smith & Perry, Boston, 1869.
  7. ^ Eric Partridge and Paul Beale, A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day, pp. 408–409. Published by Routledge, 1986, SBN 041505916X, 9780415059169.
  8. ^ "Grandparents.com - For Grandparents, Parents & Grandchildren". Grandparentsmagazine.net. Retrieved 2012-03-09.