This Old Man

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"This Old Man"
Nursery rhyme
Published1842
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), learned 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 my thumb;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Variations[edit]

Nicholas Monsarrat (1910–1979), in his autobiography 'Life is a Four Letter Word,' refers to the song as being 'a Liverpool song' adding that it was 'local and original' during his childhood in Liverpool. 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] both versions making the Top 40.[4]

French Caribbean singer and composer Henri Salvador recorded a comic version titled "Hoy Tongtchi" in 1959.

Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961)

The closing song "I Love You" from the children's show Barney & Friends was sung to the tune of "This Old Man."

In the television series Columbo, the title character often whistled the tune of 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.[5][6]

In 1980, Raffi recorded an adapted, 12-bar blues version on his Baby Beluga album.

In 1985, the Kidsongs Kids and Old MacDonald sing it in the Kidsongs video, "A Day at Old MacDonald's Farm".

A poster by Frank Schaffer Publications was made in 1992.[further explanation needed][citation needed]

In 1994, Nu metal band Korn used the lyrics from the song alongside other nursery rhyme lyrics for their song "Shoots and Ladders" from their self titled debut album.

In the fourth episode of the first season of Mad Men, "New Amsterdam", Bert Cooper - the senior partner at the firm - explains to Don Draper and Roger Sterling that they can't fire Pete Campbell, because of his family connections. While the two exit Bert's office, en-route to giving Pete a good talking to, Bert - the oldest man in the office - is heard humming the song.

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. ^ "billboard.com". billboard.com. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  5. ^ Frank W. Hoffmann - 1983 The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981 Page 802 -"This Old Man (Purple Reign) "
  6. ^ Purple Reign - Bobby Beato