Sunday, June 9, 2013

Aunt Maria Jumped In The Fire, There Was A Man & He Was Mad, & Other Trading Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

Revised January 4, 2017

This post features examples of a sub-category of songs & rhymes that I refer to as "trading rhymes". Throughout those entire rhymes, one defective item is traded (exchanged) for another item which also turns out to be defective.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

(These examples are presented in alphabetical order based on the first letter of the title.)

Example #1: ABC (IT'S EASY AS 123)

ABC (it's easy as 123) hand game

juliacreates13, Published on Aug 12, 2012

Abc, easy as 123
My momma takes care of me
My daddy watches MTV
Ooh ahh I want a piece of pie
Pie too sweet I wanna piece of meat
Meat too rough I wanna ride a bus
Bus too full I wanna ride a bull
Bull too black I want my money back
Money back too green
I wanna jelly bean
Jelly bean not cooked
I wanna read a book
Book not read I wanna go to bed
Bed not made I want some lemonade
Lemonade too sour
I wanna take a shower
Transcribed by Azizi Powell.

Click this page of my cocojams website for multiple examples of that rhyme: Other examples that are very closely related to these rhymes can be found on Cocojams' Handclap, Jumprope, and Elastic Rhymes #2 under the names "Ooh Ah I Wanna Piece Of Pie".


I went to de woods an' I couldn' go 'cross.
So I paid five dollars fer an ole gray hoss.
De hoss wouldn' pull so I sol it for a bull.
De bull wouldn't holler, so I sol it for a dollar.
De dollar wouldn't pass, so I throwed it id de grass.
Den de grass wouldn't grow. Heigho! Heigho!

Source: Thomas W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise & Otherwise; originally published in 1922;, p. 45.


Ernest T. Bass serenade Charlene Darling "Old Aunt Mariah" (jump in the fire, fire too hot...)

Lincoln Malone, Published on Dec 29, 2012

Old Aunt Maria, jump in the fi-ah,
Fire too hot, jump in the pot,
Pot to black, jump in the crack,
Crack to high, jump in the sky,
Sky to blue, jump in canoe,
Canoe too shallow, jump in the tallow,
Tallow too soft, jump in the loft,
Loft to rotten, jump in the cotton,
Cotton so white she stay there all night.
[I converted this rhyme to line formation.]
This family of rhymes is also known as "Old Man Obadiah Jumped In The Fire". Click for examples & commentary about these rhymes.

I learned it at summer camp as a clapping game:

Winston tastes good just like a cigarette should
Just like an - ooh, ah, I want a piece of pie
Pie too sweet, I want a piece of meat
Meat too brown, I want to go to town
Town too far, I'll have to take a car
Car too black, I want my money back
Money too green, I want a limosine
..... I want some lemonade
Lemonade too sour, by now we have the power
To close our eyes and count to ten
Whoever messes up has to do it again.

And at this point, the clapping pattern got more complicated and the players closed their eyes and counted to ten.
-Guest, Chocolate Pi; , October 26, 2000
"Lyr Req: Oh my, I want a piece of pie"
The "Winston taste good/like a cigarette should" lines are lifted from a 1954 cigarette commercial. In these rhymes, that couplet has subsequently been given as "Snickers taste good/ [just] like a candybar should".

Some examples of this large rhyme family begin with "ABC (it's easy as 123" and other examples begin with "Take A Peach Take A Plum". As is the case with many other playground rhymes, these lines are found in other rhymes, including "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky". The phrase "ABC Hit It" which usually prefaces the lines "that's the way I like it" are sometimes found in a different family of playground rhymes.
Click for more examples of "ABC It's Easy As One Two Three".


Pete Seeger-There Was a Man and He Was Mad

UltimateSerge, Published on Mar 13, 2013
On American Folk, Game and Activity Songs for Children. NO

There once was a man and he was mad
so he jumped into a pudding bag.
The puddin bag it was so thick
that he jumped into a walking stick.
The walking stick it was so narrow
he jumped into a wheelbarrow.
The wheelbarrow began to break
so he jumped into a chocolate cake.
The chocolate cake it was sour
So he jumped into a case of flour.
The case of flour caught on fire
and blew him up to Jeremiah. Whew!
Transcription by Azizi Powell

In the context of this song, "mad" means "crazy".

"There Was A Man Of Double Deeds" is an example of a rhyme/song that uses comparisons instead of trading exchanges. Click the Mudcat link given above for examples of that composition.
Examples of "There Was A Man of Double Deeds" & its variants were found in England & the United States & may predate "There Was A Man & He Was Mad".

Click the Project Guterberg e-book link that is given above for a version of "There Was A Man Of Double Deeds" entitled "Man Of Words" in Thomas Talley's 1922 Negro Folk Rhymes colleection [p. 208].

Thanks to all those who contributed examples and/or videos that are featured in this post.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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