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Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Eeny Meenie Sisaleenie" Rhymes That Include The "Saw You With Your Boyfriend" Verse

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post features examples of the playground rhyme that begins with the "eenie meenie sisaleenie" (or similar spelling) verse and also includes the "saw you with your boyfriend" verse. Text analysis and other comments about these rhymes and some other related rhymes are also included in this post.

The content of this post is provided for folkloric and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

DISCLAIMER
Including these rhymes on this blog that focuses on African American rhymes & songs and rhymes & songs from other Black cultures throughout the world, isn't meant to imply that examples of this rhyme are only chanted by Black people. That is obviously not true. However, given its structure and its words, I believe that some, if not all, of the early examples of this rhyme originated with African Americans.

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EDITOR'S TEXT ANALYSIS OF "EENIE MEENIE SISALEENIE"
"Eenie Meenie Sissaleeni" (or similarly pronounced spelling) is a large family of playground rhymes that originated in the United States. Those rhymes may be chanted as a four line verse without the addition of "saw you with your boyfriend" or any other verse. Other versions of this rhyme begin with a two line rhyme similar to that given as Example #1 in the "Other Text Examples" found below or this three line example:
Eenie Meanie Justa Leanie
Ooca lacka Trackalacka
I love you.

In those examples, the first line contains an internal rhyme based on the "eenie" syllable, and the second line contains an internal rhyme based on the "acka" syllable.

I chanted a four line version of this rhyme while doing a partner hand clap routine (Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950s). We sang:
Eenie meenie epsodeenie
Ooh aah umbaleenie
Ashie mashie kohkah lashie
I_ love_ you

[The dashes represent one pause in the beat.]
-snip-
Four Line Structure
In the four line "eenie meenie sissalini" verse, the first line contains an internal rhyme made from the the "eenie" syllable. The last word of the second line also ends with the "eenie" sound and thus rhymes with the first line. The third line contains an internal rhyme made by the "ie" (pronounced "ee") syllable, and thus rhymes with the first and second lines. The fourth line is the only one that does not have an internal or end word rhyme.

"Eeny Meenie Sisaleenie" rhymes can be recited with just those lines; However, that core verse is often combined with other stand alone (independent) rhymes such as the "take a peach take a plum" and/or "saw you with your boyfriend"* verses Those combined rhymes flow into each other without any transitioning words or phrases.

*Although I categorize "saw you with your boyfriend" as an independent rhyme (a rhyme that can be chanted alone), I've not yet found any examples online of that rhyme being chanted alone.
-snip-
Since at least the 1970s, it appears that most but not all examples of "Eenie Meenie Sissaleeni" rhymes begin with the four line "eenie meenie sissaleeni" verse and return to that verse at the end of the rhyme.

"Saw you with your boyfriend" is a verse that is often combined with the "eenie meenie sisileeni" verse. "Saw you with your boyfriend" is usually made up of a series of non-rhyming lines that are each followed by a two word or one word response to that particular line - for instance "looked through the key hole/nosy nosy" (or "nosy"). My guess is that the two word response is the earliest version of the responding line as it appears to me to be the more rhythmic than the single word. However, that is just a guess. In some contemporary versions of this rhyme "looked through the key hole" and "looked through the peep hole" has been changed to "looked through the window".

Other independent rhymes (such as verses of the "Down Down Baby" rhymes) may be combined with "eenie meenie sissaleeni" without the "saw you with your boyfriend" lines. Or other independent rhymes might be combined with the core verse and be placed before or after those "saw you with your boyfriend" lines.

To date, I've only collected one example of "saw you with..." that replaces the word "boyfriend" for "girlfriend" e.g. "caught your with your girlfriend". Visit the Hand clap Rhymes #1 page of my Cocojams cultural website for that example which is found under the title "Eenie meenie pepsa deenie". The link for that Cocojams page is given in the "Related Links" section below.
-snip-
The words "eenie meenie" undoubtedly have their source in the very old European counting out rhyme "Eeny meenie minie mo". Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eeny,_meeny,_miny,_moe for information about that rhyme.

The word "sisaleenie" or similarly pronounced words is a made-up rhyming word with no meaning.

I also believe that the word "liberace" (also found as "Liberachi", "Liborachi" or similar spellings) is a newer substition for made-up rhyming phonetic phrases such as "kohkah lashie" which have no meaning. "Liberace" (also written as "Liberachi") has its origins in the last name of the flamboyant American pianist/vocalist known by his last name "Liberace" (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberace. However, I doubt that most people who've recited that rhyme are aware of that informational tidbit.

Tune
To date, I've heard two different tunes for "Eeny Meenie Sisaleenie" rhymes. I believe that the most common tune in the United States is the one used in video example given as example #1 and example #2 below. That is the tune that I used when I chanted this rhyme in the 1950s.

Performance Activities
As is the case with most playground rhymes in the United States, "Eeny Meenie Sisaleenie" rhymes were originally chanted while jumping rope*. However, since at least the 1970s, they are usually chanted as a partner hand clap game. And, as it appears to often be the case with many hand clap rhymes in the United States, those rhymes are also performed with actions which mimic the words that are chanted.

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VIDEO EXAMPLES WITH TRANSCRIPTIONS
[Transcriptions made by listening to the videos. Additions and corrections are welcome.]

Video Example #1: Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny Clapping Songs



sharonmnich, Uploaded on Oct 2, 2009

Kids Clapping Songs
-snip-
Transcription:

Eenie meanie sassaleeny.
Oops ah tumbalini.
Achi achi liberace.
I love you.
Take a peach.
Take a plum.
Take a stick of bubble gum.
No peach.
No plum.
No stick of bubble gum.
Saw you with my boyfriend
last night.
How'd you know.
Peekin through the peep hole*
Nosy
Ate a lot of candy
Greedy
Didn't do the dishes
Lazy
Jumped out the window
Doggone crazy
And that's why they call you.
Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny,
Ooh ah babalini,
Achi atchi Liberace,
I love you.
-snip-
*One of the girls seemed to start to chant "looked out" instead of "peeped through".

Additional examples of this rhyme are found in the viewer comment section of this video.

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Video Example #2: Eenie meenie sissalini



Miamichellekaraoke, Published on May 19, 2012

Mia and Michelle demonstrate their new hand game
-snip-
Transcription: Rhyme begins at .021

Ready. Go.

Eenie meanie sassaleeny,
Ooh ah babalini,
Achi cachi Liberace,
I love you,
Take a peach,
Take a plum,
Take a stick of bubble gum,
No peach
No plum
Just a stick of bubble gum
Saw you with my boyfriend
last night
How'd you know
I looked through my window
Nosy
Ate a lot of cookies
Greedy
Didn’t flush the toilet
Nasty
Didn't do the dishes
Lazy
And that's why they call you.
Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny,
Oops ah tumbalini.
Achi cachi Liberace,
I love you.
Oops ah tumbalini,
Achi cachi Liberace,
I love you!

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Video Example #3: eenie mini dissemini fun and easy clapping games!



Mitzi Brennan, Published on Apr 28, 2013
-snip-

Transcription:
Eenie mini dissemini
You are the one and only
Education
Liberation
I like you.
Downtown baby
Down by the roller coaster
Sweet sweet cherry
No place to go
Didn’t do the dishes
Lazy lazy
Stole a box of chocolates
Greedy greedy
Snogged your boyfriend
Naughty naughty
Jumped out the window
Flippin crazy
Eenie mini dissemini
You are the one and only
Education
Liberation
I like you.
-snip-
"Italics" mean that I'm not sure of this word.

From the girls' accents, I assumed that this example of "Eenie Meanie" is from outside of the United States.

[Update: December 16, 2013: I corrected the words that I was uncertain about as per a comment from that video uploader Mitzi Brennan, who thanked me for featuring her video. Mitzi confirmed that she lives in England.]

"Education liberation", "downtown baby", "down by the rollercoaster" etc. are phrases that either come from or are folk etymology forms of phrases that are found in some versions of the playground rhyme "Down Down Baby". For example, "downtown baby” is folk etymology for "down down baby" and "Sweet sweet cherry/No place to go" is a folk etymology form of "sweet sweet baby/I really love you so". Visit the Hand clap #1 page of my Cocojams website whose link is given below for examples of "Down Down Baby".

Similar examples of "Eeny Meenie Sisaleenie" that include phrases from "Down Down Baby" are found in the viewer comments threads for the video given as Example #1 in this post.

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OTHER TEXT EXAMPLES
Example #1
Eenie Meanie Justa Leanie
Ooca lakca Trackalacka, I love you.
Take a peach, Take a plum
Take a piece of bubble gum.
Teacher, Teacher, Dummy Dum
Gimme back my bubble gum.
Saw you with your boyfriend last night.
How do you know?
I was peekin' through the keyhold.
NOSY
Wash them dishes
LAZY
Jump out the window
CRAZY
Peaches on the tree, Bananas on the floor
Jump back baby. I Don't Love You No More!
-Donetta A. (Pittsburgh, PA 1984); collected by Azizi Powell,
1998; posted on Cocojams by Azizi on 2/26/2006
-snip-
Donetta A (African American woman) responded to a voluntary written survey of playground rhymes that I conducted at my former work place. Donetta said she learned this rhyme when she was growing up from her cousin who visited her from the South. She indicated that she performed it as a partner hand clap game.

The line "peaches on the tree, bananas' on the floor" reminds me of the "apples on the shelf /I'm so tired of living by myself" verse that is found in in Thomas W. Talley's 1922 book Negro Folk Rhymes Wise And Otherwise.* Versions of that line are found in other African American playground rhymes, Blues songs, and other compositions along with the line "I've seen the line "Jump back, baby I don't love you no more" or similar lines such as "Step back, baby/I don't love you no more".

*This is the last verse of the rhyme entitled "Mama's Darling" (p. 188) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27195/27195-h/27195-h.htm
"I has apples on de table,
An' I has peaches on de shelf;
But I wish I had a husband—
I'se so tired stayin' to myself."

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Example #2:
Eenie meenie sicileenie ooh ahh combaleenie ochie cochie liverochi C-O-D
Take a peach, take a plum, take a stick of bubblegum
No peach, no plum, just a stick of bubblegum
Saw you with your boyfriend last night
How'd you know?
Peeked through the peek hole
Noisy
Didn't do the dishes
Lazy
Ate a box of candy
Greedy
Jumped out the window
Now I know you're really crazy, thats why we call you
Eenie meenie sicileenie ooh ahh combaleenie ochi cochi liverochi C-O-D
Source:
Me and my friends used to love this!
-qwerty, http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080126135642AA0Q3LB "Hand clap game.. What are the words?", 2007
-snip-
Asker's rating [the highest rating 5 stars] & comment
"Haha so did we! i was trying to think of it the other day and i couldnt. Thanks!
-ashley jonasss; (asked 2007).o

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Example #3:
Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny,
Opps ah tumbalini,
Achi cachi Liberace,
I love you,
Take a peach,
Take a plum,
Take a stick of bubble gum,
No peach
No plumb
No stick of bubble gum
Saw you with your boyfriend
last night
How'd you know
I was peaking through the key hole
Nosy
Didn't do the dishes
Lazy
Stole a box of candy
Greedy
Jumped out the window
Dog on crazy*
That's why they call me...
Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny,
Opps ah tumbalini,
Achi cachi Liberace,
I love you!
- http://funclapping.com/Eenie.php

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Example #4
eenie meenie sissaleney
o a tumbaline
achie gachif temberachi
i love you
take a peach
take a plum
take a sitck of bubble gum
no peach no plum
just a stick a bubble gum
saw you with your boyfreind last night
you werea huggin anda kissin
anda holdin on tight
how do i know
LOOK THROUGH THE WINDOW
NOSEY
ATE ALL YA COOKIES
GREEDY
DIDNT DO THE DISHES
LAZY THATS WY DEY CALL ME
eenie meenie sissaleney
o a tumberlinie
achie gachie liverachie
i love you
-jazz09932, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C2cBh_NZNU, 2012
-snip-
I reformatted this example from its paragraph form (a form that seems to be the default for YouTube.com) to lined poetry form. However, I left the capitalizations that the blogger wrote "as is". I think those words were capitalized to serve as a "correction" for the words that were chanted in the video. Btw, I also believe that the tempo in that video is slower than the tempo that I've usually found for this rhyme.

ADDENDUM - TWO EXAMPLES OF "SAW YOU WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND" VERSE WITHOUT THE "EENIE MEANIE SISALEENI" VERSE

Example #1:
A.B.C.
It’s easy as 1.2.3.
My momma takes care of me.
My father don’t yell at me.

Caught you with your boyfriend.
Naughty, Naughty.
Didn’t do the dishes.
Lazy, Lazy.
Ate all the candy
Greedy, greedy.
Jumped out the window.
Man, you’re crazy!
- anonymous woman (White; Washington, D. C), collected by Azizi Powell,1999
-snip-
This example was collecting via a volunatary written survey that I conducted at my former workplace. As per my directions, the woman indicated the geographical location where she performed this rhyme. She wrote that she learned it when she was a child living in a "mostly Black neighborhood". She also wrote that she performed it as a hand clap game.

"ABC it's easy as 1, 2, 3" is lifted from the Jackson Five R&B song "ABC". That song could help to date the earliest examples of rhymes with that introductory verse.

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Example #2
Ziz Zag zag
take a piece take a plum
take a piece of bubble gum
do you like it?
do you love it?
do the alabama shake it
shake it up
shake it down
shake it all around
Spying on my boy friend - baby
didn't do the dishes - lazy
jumped out the window - crazy
and thats the facts of boys boys boys
- Miranda R, http://octopuses.chaoticinsanity.com
(Octoblog- "Schoolyard games"), December 5, 2004
Unfortunately, this website is no longer viable.

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RELATED LINK
Click http://www.cocojams.com/content/handclap-jump-rope-and-elastics-rhymes for other examples of and comments about "Eenie Meaniee Sisalini".

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Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

12 comments:

  1. In the mid-70s in Yreka, California, my friends and I chant-sang the following -- and it always made sense to me as a story about a girl who was, or fancied herself as, a gypsy queen and thought she could have a secret boyfriend only to learn that she was caught out and her friends knew all along. I had no idea there were different versions, of course.

    Eenie meenie gypsy queenie
    Ooh ah allimeenie
    Atchie Caughtchie Liberace
    I love you. [pause]
    Saw your boyfriend the other day
    What's his name?
    John Wayne.
    How did you know?
    Peekin' through the keyhole.
    Nosy!
    Hate to do the dishes.
    Lazy!
    Jumpin' through the window.
    Crazy!
    Eenie meenie gypsy queenie
    Ooh ah allimeenie
    Atchie Caughtchie Liberace
    I love you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One more note as I skim through all the variations in your post -- this was a small and nearly all-white town. In my grade level (and one or two up and down), there were no people of color except for one Native American girl from the local tribe -- until Junior High when an African American family moved to town.

      Delete
    2. Hello, ramblerla.

      Thanks for sharing that example of "Eenie Meanie" and thanks for including demographical information, including the racial composition of your town (Btw, is "Yreka" pronounced the same as the word "eureka"?)

      Your example is one that I hadn't come across before.

      I added your example to another pancocojams post http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/08/playground-rhymes-that-include-names-of_30.html Playground Rhymes That Include Names Of Famous People (Part I) .

      Thanks again!

      Delete
    3. Also, ramblerla, I meant to note that your version of "Eenie Meanie" suggests that my theory may be correct that children often try to make sense out of the words to their playground rhymes.

      Best wishes!

      Delete
  2. 1950s NYC. Counting out game for who is it for hide and seek, tag, etc. This sissaleen version seems to be a more recent adaptation.

    Ernie meenie gypsadeeny
    Ooh gah gabalini
    Hotchy potchy goombalachy
    Out goes Y-O-U

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Anonymous for sharing your memories of "Eenie Meenie".

      This is the fist time that I've heard (meaning "read") a version of that counting rhyme that includes the "words" gypsadeeny, gabalini, and goombalchy before. That said, "gypsadeeny" sounds like "gypsy queenie" that ramblerla from California shared above on September 23, 2015.

      Best wishes!

      Delete
  3. We played this game as a double dutch chant in the 70's in Philadelphia Pa. It went like this:

    Eeny meany sisaleenie.. ooh ah chacha leenie ocka bocka liberacha I love you choo choo shampoo.
    I saw ya with your boyfriend last night
    What was his name?
    Charlie White
    How do you know?
    Because I Peeked through the peephole
    Nosey!
    Wash those dishes! Lazy!
    Jump out the window! Crazy!
    Oh I can do the oochi coochi,
    I can do a split!
    Betcha 5 dollars you can't do this!
    Lady on 1 foot
    Lady on 2 foots
    close your eyes and count to ten.
    If you miss you've got the ends
    1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown, thanks for sharing that version of "Eeny Meany".

      And thanks for adding demographic information and the information that this rhyme was chanted while playing double dutch jump rope.

      Was this rhyme primarily chanted by African Americans in Philadelphia?

      And did the boyfriend's name change with each jumper?

      Also, as explanation, sometimes "enders" is the term that is used for the two people who turn the two ropes that are held together and turned for double dutch (That term is also used for the two people who turn the one rope that is used for jump rope with three or more people). That explains the line that Unknown shared "If you miss you've got the ends".

      Thanks again!

      Delete
  4. In Ontario in the mid 80s, we sang this as a clapping game:
    Eenie meenie popsa meenie
    Oo wop bop sa meenie
    Education, liberation
    I_ like_ you.
    Dowtown baby, down by the roller coaster,
    Sweet, sweet baby, no place to go.
    Caughtcha with your boyfriend,
    Naughty, naughty,
    Didn't do the dishes,
    Lazy, lazy,
    Stole a piece of candy,
    Greedy, greedy,
    Jumped out the window,
    Nutso, nutso-
    Eenie meenie popsa meenie
    Oo wop bop sa meenie
    Education, liberation,
    I_ like_ you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing that example of "Eenie meenie", Anonymous.

      And thanks for remembering to include demographics.

      Delete
  5. As a 10 year old white girl in upstate New York my sister and I and my school bus friends used to chant and clap:
    Eenie meenie stepaseenie
    Ooja bagga hamaleenie
    Umm bah icky poo spells out goes you!
    Just a peach just a plum not a stick of bubble gum
    Not a peach not a plum just a stick of bubblegum.
    Saw you with your boyfriend last night
    How do you know?
    I peeked through the keyhole
    Nosy
    Ate a box of candy
    Greedy
    Didn't wipe the toilet seat
    Nasty
    Jumped off a skyscraper now I know you're crazy now I know to call you
    Eenie meenie stepaseenie ooja bagga hamaleenie umm bah icky poo
    Spells
    I
    Hate
    You!
    ******
    The hands at the end would be going back and forth, try to be last to slap the other persons on the you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jules for sharing that version of "Eenie Meenie".

      There's LOTS of versions of that rhyme. Yours is one I hadn't come across before.

      Thanks again!

      Delete