This Old Man

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"This Old Man"
Nursery rhyme
Published 1906
Songwriter(s) Unknown

"This Old Man" is an English language children's song, counting and nursery rhyme with a Roud Folk Song Index number of 3550.

Origins and history[edit]

The origins of this song are obscure. The earliest extant record is a version noted in Anne Gilchrist's Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1937), learnt from her Welsh nurse in the 1870s under the title "Jack Jintle" with the lyrics:[1]

My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but one,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own thumb.
With my nick-nack and click-clack and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.

My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but two,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own shoe.
With my nick-nack and click-clack and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.

My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but three,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own knee.
With my nick-nack and click-clack and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.

Lyrics[edit]

A more familiar version goes like this:

This old man, he played one,
He played knick-knack on his drum;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played two,
He played knick-knack on his shoe;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played three,
He played knick-knack on his knee;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played four,
He played knick-knack on his door;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played five,
He played knick-knack on his hive;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played six,
He played knick-knack on his sticks;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played seven,
He played knick-knack up in heaven;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played eight,
He played knick-knack on his gate;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played nine,
He played knick-knack on his spine;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played ten,
He played knick-knack once again;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

Variations[edit]

A similar version was included in Cecil Sharp and Sabine Baring-Gould's English Folk-Songs for Schools, published in 1906.[2] It was collected several times in England in the early 20th century with a variety of lyrics. In 1948 it was included by Pete Seeger and Ruth Crawford in their American Folk Songs for Children and recorded by Seeger in 1953. It received a boost in popularity when it was adapted for the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) by composer Malcolm Arnold as "The Children's Marching Song", which led to hit singles for Cyril Stapleton and Mitch Miller.[3]

The children's show Barney & Friends used the song "I Love You" as its closing song and was sung to the tune of "This Old Man". Lyrics I love you. You love me. We're a happy family, With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, Won't you say you love me too.

In the television series Columbo, the title character often whistled the music to this song, generally when he was happy and closing in on a suspect.

British musical comedy duo Flanders and Swann recorded a satirical version called "All Gall", about French President Charles de Gaulle, replacing the original's refrain with "Cognac, Armagnac, Burgundy and Beaune". A single with a rock version by Bobby Beato and Purple Reign charted in 1975.[4][5]

In October 1996, The News Huddlines used the tune for a song inspired by Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet.

References[edit]

  1. ^ A. G. Gilchrist, "Jack Jintle", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, 3 (2) (1937), pp. 124–5.
  2. ^ S. B. Gould and C. J. Sharp English Folk-Songs for Schools (London: J. Curwen & Sons, 1906) pp. 94–5.
  3. ^ N. Musiker and D. Adès, Conductors and Composers of Popular Orchestral Music: a Biographical and Discographical Sourcebook (London: Greenwood, 1998), p. 248.
  4. ^ Frank W. Hoffmann - 1983 The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981 Page 802 -"This Old Man (Purple Reign) "
  5. ^ Purple Reign - Bobby Beato