Monday, May 21, 2012

Song Sources For Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Update July 16, 2015]

This post showcases nine examples of songs or rhymes that influenced the development of the playground rhyme "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" or versions of that rhyme.

I don't mean to indicate or imply that the featured songs in this post are the only songs or the only creative works that influenced the development of the huge family of playground rhymes known as "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" (or similar first lines/titles).

Significantly, this post only includes two "frog in the well" songs, although many more of these very very old songs are important to the development of the playground rhyme "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky".

The content of this post is presented for historical, educational, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. The copyrights remain with their owners.

My thanks to the composers and performers of this music. My thanks also to the videographers and uploaders of these featured videos, and thanks to Joseph Scott for the information given bekow in the Feb 11, 2014 update to this post.

In analyzing "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" rhymes (including examples in this rhyme family with similar titles), I've categorized those examples as having a short form or a long form.

Short Form:
There are numerous versions of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" (or similar titles). One standard short version of this rhyme is:

down by the river of the hanky banky
where the bullfrog jumps from bank to bank
say eeps oops soda pop
He missed the lilypad
And went KERPLOP!

Long Form:
An example of the long version of this rhyme often mentions Pop music singer Michael Jackson.
Here's one example of the long version of "Down By The Banks..."
Down by the river with the hanky bankys
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
say an
Skittle dittle curly pop
I pledge allegence to the flag
That Micheal jackson makes me gag
Diet Pepsi came to town
Coca-Cola pushed him down
Orange soda picked him up
Now I'm drinking 7 up
7up caught the flu
Now I'm drinking Moutain Dew
Moutain Dew fell off the moutain
Now I'm drinking from a fountian
Foutain Broke
Now I'm drinking plain old Coke
-Guest; "Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky", July 15, 2007
That example is included in this pancocojams post:
Forms Of The Name "Billie Jean" In "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" Rhymes

These examples are presented in chronological order based on the song's recording date, and not the date that the video was posted on YouTube.

Note that there are earlier examples of songs that influenced "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" rhymes. One of those songs is May Irwin's "Foolish Frog", 1910. The example given as #3 below may have the same or similar lyrics and tune as the song that May Irwin sung, a song that is documented that she got from Black American sources.

Example #1: Chubby Parker & His Old Time Banjo - King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O [1928)

misterbamboostick, Published on Jul 23, 2012

Chubby Parker & His Old Time Banjo - King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O (from Harry Smith's 'Anthology of American Folk Music : Ballads'). Support your favourite artists : buy vinyl, cd's or legal downloads. I don't own the rights to this song, I just want to share good music.

Example 2: Eep, Ipe, Wanna Piece of Pie

Fats Waller - Topic Published on Aug 23, 2015

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises

Eep, Ipe, Wanna Piece of Pie · Fats Waller

Historical Jazz Recordings: 1938-1940

℗ 2015 Historical Jazz

Released on: 2015-08-01

Example #3: "Foolish Frog" by Blind Blake (1952)

Uploaded by folkgrassboy on Jul 30, 2008

Featured on VOLUME 2 of his Art Records releases. Calypso from the Bahamas.
The uploader's comments include the lyrics of this song. The lyrics begin
"Away down yonder in Yankety Yank
A bullfrog jumped from bank to bank"
Also, click for the Pete Seeger version of this 19th century song.

Example #4. David Seville My Friend The Witch Doctor [1958]

oldtimer874, Uploaded on Oct 20, 2011

Example #5: The Jetsons - Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah [1962]

ladythatsmyskull, Uploaded on Jan 22, 2007

Originally performed by Howard Morris. Jetsons music video featuring 'Jet Screamer' from 60's TV show.

Example #6: Joe Perkins - Little Eeefin' Annie [1963]

Uploaded by TheLimePopsicle on Aug 15, 2009

Charted at #76 on Billboard Hot 100 in September 1963. Vocal by Joe and the "eefin" is performed by Jimmie Riddle. This was Joe's only Hot 100 entry.

"Eefing (also written eeephing, eephing, eeefing, eefin, or eefn' and doubtless other ways) is an Appalachian (United States) vocal technique similar to beatboxing, but nearly a century older. Jennifer Sharpe describes it as "a kind of hiccupping, rhythmic wheeze that started in rural Tennessee more than 100 years ago.""...

Example #7. Manfred Mann Do Wah Diddy Very Good quality Live, [1964]

videosMLR, Uploaded on Jul 6, 2011
The lyrics "do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do" are found in some post 1982 versions of "Down By The Banks..." This line is particularly found when the "Coca Cola came to town" rhyme is combined with certain versions of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" that mention Michael Jackson.

Example #8: Pete Seeger - The Foolish Frog [1973]

Steve Johnson, Published on Apr 12, 2013

Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes (Little and Big) - 1998
Pete Seeger's "Foolish Frog" book, song, and short animated film was first released in 1973. Those products are significant for helping to introduce children to the story of the foolish frog. Seeger learned this song from his father who based it upon May Irwin's "Foolish Frog". However, the lyrics and tune that Pete Seeger popularized are quite different from the contemporary "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky' rhymes. The tune used for "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" rhymes* is the same as or very similar to the "The Three Little Fishies" song. Click for a 1939 sound file of that song.

*There are a number of examples of the long form "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky rhyme" in the comment threads of YouTube videos of the short form of that rhyme. However, to date, I've not come across any video of the long form of that rhyme, and I've never heard it chanted in person. Therefore, I'm not sure what tune it uses.

Example #9: Michael Jackson - Billie Jean [1982]

Uploaded by michaeljacksonVEVO on Oct 2, 2009

Music video by Michael Jackson performing Billie Jean. © 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

Example #10: Coca cola went to town [1982?]

Published on Mar 21, 2012 by Nadia Smalling

UPDATE: February 11, 2014

Subject: RE: Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 11 Feb 15 - 05:37 PM

"Down by the banks of the Hanky-Panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky"

_Norfolk, The Marine Metropolis Of Virginia_ by G. Nowitsky, 1888, includes
"He came to the banks
Of the Pasquotank,
Where the bull-frogs jump
From bank to bank...."

_With The Guns In South Africa_ 1901 includes
"'Way down on the Hanky-Pank,
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank,
Because they have nuthin' else to do-oo-oo !"

An article "'Coon' Tales From The Bahamas" in _The English Illustrated Magazine_ in 1905 included
"Once 'pon a time was a berry good time,
Monkey chew terbacco en spit white lime,
Cockroach keep time.
Bullfrog jump from bank to bank,
En he hin' quattah don' touch wattah."

E.C. Perrow recalled hearing this in Tennessee in 1905:
Way daown yander in China-rank
The bullfrog jumped frum bank to bank...."

Newman White (1892-1948) wrote in the 1920s: "From childhood I have known...:
'Way down yonder in Pasquotank
Bull frog jumped from bank to bank"
In another Mudcat Folk Music forum comment, (guest) Joseph Scott identified himself as a blues researcher.

RELATED LINKS "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" (video & different text examples)

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  1. thank you so much

  2. Wow you did an incredible job of looking into the origins of this song we sang in 6th grade in philly thank u

    1. Hello, eric howl.

      I appreciate your compliment.

      Thanks for sharing that you remember "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky in Philadelphia, PA.

      Boys weren't (and still aren't) usually "in to" doing hand clap routines, but in the case of competitive hand clap games like "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" and "Slap Billy- Ola*) , I've found that boys like those games just as much or almost as much as girls.

      In my experience as a convener of after school cultural programming that centered around teaching children old African American children's rhymes and in my experience as a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh public schools (both in mostly Black schools from 2004-2007) I found that boys didn't like to start these games, but would readily join in playing them.

      *"Slap Billy-Ola" is one name for a circle hand slap game also known as "Stella Ella Ola".