Monday, March 31, 2014

"Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" (Examples & Comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents comments about, text examples of, and performance activities for the children's chant "Hey, hey get out of my way / "I just got back from the USA".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

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

"Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" is a children's taunting chant that is documented to have been performed in a similar way throughout the United States and Canada. {Information about the performance activities associated with this chant is found below.] While the built in assumption in this chant is that visiting to the United States conferred so much status that other people should move out of the way for "their betters", when the chant is said in the United States it just serves as a rhythmical taunting rhyme similarly to other such rhymes.*

The earliest date that I have found for "Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" is 1956. However, a number of examples of this chant in both the United States and Canada are attributed to the 1970s. The widespread occurrence of this chant, particularly in the 1970s, causes me to wonder if the performance of "Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" was included in a United States movie or television show that would have also been available for viewing in Canada.

*I collected another example of a children's "get out the way" rhyme from an African American female Toya L. who remembered chanting it in the late 1990s (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) with two or more other girls walking down the street with their arms locked together, and daring other people to remain in their path:
"We don't stop for nobody
Can you dig it?
Get with it
When Toya was chanting this, Montel, her ten year old son (my grandson)began chanting along with her. Toya didn't know that Montel knew this chant. Montel said that he learned it from other kids and that he had done this with other boys.

(These theories are presented in no particular order. The numbers are given for reference purposes only.)

1. This children's chant began as a United States military cadence.
The earliest date that I have found for the chant "Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" is 1956. That date was given with this example which was posted on a Mudcat folk music discussion thread that I started on children's cheers that come from or are similar to military cadences:

(Philippine Islands; Circa 1956)

Hey! Hey! Get out of my way!
I just got back from the U. S. A.
-Guest Gargoyle, 30 Dec 04, repost from "Jody's children - kids' rhymes from military cadences";

WARNING: Some examples in that discussion thread contain profanity.
My sense is that this blogger meant that this example was a military cadence and not a children's chant that was based on a military cadence.

To date, I've not found this chant on any other military cadence web page. However, I have found other "get out of the way" military cadences such as the following two examples:
"A U.S. Navy cadence goes:
I'm a battleship baby
Just a blastin' down the line
I'm a battleship baby
Just a blastin' down the line
So you better get out of my way now
before I blast all over you
It's just a little uh, a little uh, a little rock and roll
It's the kinda uh, the kinda uh, the kind to soothe your soul
So you better get out of my way now
Before I blast all over you
Each verse a different object is put in and a different action. (ex. Jackhamer/Jack, Steamroller/roll, screwdriver/screw)"

US Navy Seals Get Out of My Way Cadence

CreditDue52, Uploaded on Jul 14, 2010
Run to cadence with the US Navy SEALs
Words to this chant:
[Each line is first sung by a lead and the repeated by the group)

Get out of my way, Stand aside
A Seal team member is a-comin by.
Get out of my way, we’re comin through
And if you don’t gonna mess with you.
If you’re smart, don’t mess with me
Cause we’re the sons of UDT.
Hoo yah hey
Hoo yah hey
Just another rotten day.
Transcription by Azizi Powell. Italics mean that I'm not certain about that transcription.
A blogger on this page about this chant "We Just Came From the U.S.A." Published by Toronto Mike on November 10, 2008 @ 19:12 in Memories, Music usa,[hereafter given as "We Just Came From the U.S.A.": Toronto Mike"] wrote
"This old school yard song makes me think about soldiers returning from war. Specifically, WWII. Very patriotic.
-Jane, June 16, 2010
Putting aside the fact that I've yet to find an example of this chant from the mid 1940s (the end of World War II), if "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" was a military cadence, wouldn't the preposition used be "to" instead of "from"? ("I've just got back to the USA" and not "I've just got back from the USA").

2. This chant is an adaptation of a military cadence.
It seems more likely to me that the "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" chant is an adaptation of a United States military cadence than an actual cadence which was members of the military. That said, I've no proof to back up that theory.

3. This chant was composed by American (United States) children who lived on military bases outside of the USA and who came back to those bases after visiting the USA. Here's an example with comments that supports this theory:

From "Hey, Hey! Get Out of My Way! I Just Got Back From the USA!"
Posted on May 30, 2012 by imclellan [written by Medders]- memories of play activities by "army brats on overseas base apartments (bases that were across the ocean from the USA) in the 1950s and 1960s
“One other curious game was played by us military brats, at least overseas. It really wasn’t much of a game, but more of a declaration. Usually two or more kids would link arms and walk around the playground yelling at the top of their lungs, “Hey, hey, get out of my way. I just got back from the USA!” I suppose in the grand scheme of things, those you just arrived from the “World” would be that important as to demand the tribute of moving out of their way. After all, they were privy to the knowledge of what was cool stateside, and we did want to know what was going on in the States. We desperately wanted to hear about the new TV shows, toys, music, and fashions. I tried it a few times on my return from our visits back to the land of the “Round Doorknobs”, and it was elating to do.”
Variations of the chant "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" are included in two pop-rock Canadian band recordings: Trooper's "American Dream" (1991) and Burton Cummings' "We Just Came From the U.S.A." (2008)*. It's possible that prior to those above mentioned recordings (and since those recordings), Canadian children could have learned this chant from children living in the United States who visited Canada. However, that wouldn't explain why anyone visiting a country other than the United States would say "I just got back from the USA.

*In the article, Darryl Sterdan refers to "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" as "an old Canadian school yard chant". Sterdan writes that "Trooper's lines "Hey, hey, get out of my way, I just came back from the U.S.A." are the closing refrain in a cynical roots-rock examination of the American music industry." He also writes that "In the Cummings song -- which appears on his recently released comeback album Above the Ground -- the lyrics "Hey, hey, get out of our way, we just came from the U.S.A." are used as the anthemic chorus to a big arena-rocker about American values."

That the chant "Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" was known in Canada prior to the Canadian pop-rock band Trooper's 1991 recording is attested by the webpage "We Just Came From the U.S.A.": Toronto Mike" and some responses to that page. That blogger remembered "Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" as an "old school yard chant" from the late 1970s (presumably given his internet name, in Toronto, Canada). Two commenters to that article who cited geographical information also remembered that chant from Canada, one from Mississauga (Ontario) "in the early 70's" and one from "Winnipeg Manitoba in the 70s".

Fourteen commenters (to date) have posted responses to that article from 2008 to February 2014. Eight of those commenters provided the names of the geographical location where they lived when they chanted "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" or heard it chanted. As indicated above, two of those commenters (and also the blog poster) are from Canada. One of the commenters to date is from Tampico, Mexico ("in the early 90's"), and six of those commenters remembered chanting "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" when they were children in Bramalea (California; "in the mid 70's."), or Milwaukee, Wisconsin ("thirty years ago" [in the 1980s]), or Oakland, California ("1965-68"), or Flagstaff, Arizona ("circa 1977"), or Phoenix, Arizona ("in the early 70s").
In addition to those examples posted to that article, in the 1990s I collected this chant from my step daughter Jozita who remembered it from her childhood in the early 1970s in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her version of that chant is "Hey! Hey! Get out of the way! / I just got back to the USA".

An additional example from the United States (from the 1980s or 1970s) is included in the Performance section below.

The children's chant "Hey Hey Get Out Of My Way" is spoken while a group of children move with locked arms across a space. Here are some descriptions of this chant's performance:

Example #1:
"It was pretty popular at Clark Blvd Public School in Bramalea in the mid 70's.

Boys vs Girls.

Girls always won."
-Stephanie, "We Just Came From the U.S.A.": Toronto Mike", November 11, 2008

[Editor: Notice the references to "kicking" in the following examples.]

Example #2
"In Wisconsin the schoolyard chant included students walking in a line, with arms wrapped around each others back, while reciting the chant. When the line would reach you, you had two choices get out of the way,and chance being trampled on, or join in on the prosession. The choice was up to you. I did this thirty years ago and my nephews and nieces do it today."
-Ann, "We Just Came From the U.S.A.": Toronto Mike", June 16, 2010

Example #3
"What Anne said - Oakland, California - 1965-68 - Line as wide as the playground marching across chanting - "Hey Hey get out of my way, just got back from(sic) the USA. If you don't get out of my way I'll kick you out of the way." - I never heard it anywhere else, and I suspected it came from the kids from the Navy base who went to our school, since we were IN the US and the chant was FROM the US."
Annelise, "We Just Came From the U.S.A.": Toronto Mike", July 18, 2011

Example #4
"The only words I remember from 1st Grade in Flagstaff, Arizona, circa 1977, are "Hey! Hey! Get out of our way! We just came from the U.S.A! With a bottle of beer, and a KICK in the rear!" I feel there was one more couplet, but cannot be certain."
T. Reimche, "We Just Came From the U.S.A.": Toronto Mike", May 28, 2012

Example #5
"Hey, Hey, get out of my way.
I just came back from the USA,

LMAO. What the devil were we talking about??? You would do this with 2 or more friends with your arms locked around each other - think Rockettes. Then when you say "Kaboom" we'd all kick our right leg out.
-Bamboozled, March 25, 2003 (no geographical location given)
Participants in this internet discussion about memories of childhood rhymes & cheers were members of historically Black [African American] Greek lettered sororities. Given some of the comments, it's likely that these women were remembering their childhoods in the (early) 1980s or the (late) 1970s.

I believe that the following children's cheerleader cheer derives from the "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" chant:


Maize Junior Cheerleading-5th Grade Squad, Published on Sep 5, 2013

I've also seen the name of this cheer given online as "Blow You Away". In some cheer performances, the cheerleaders mimic the "blow you away" words. Here's a video of that cheer performance activity:

Wrestling Cheer - Blow You Away

My transcription from the video:

Hey! Hey you!
Get out of his way!
Because today is the day
He will blow you away.
Cheer words from linked website:

Blow You Away (Original) VIDEO
Hey! Hey you! Get out of our way! Because today is the day we will blow you away!

Blow You Away (New)
Hey! Hey you! Get out of our way! Because today is the day we will blow you away!
Note that commenter wrote in 2013 "Hi I'm Sammie and I'm a wrestlig cheerleader and when my squad an I did this cheer many ppl laughed and they took it wrong is there anyway we could change the words to make it sound appropriate".

No response to this comment has been added to date.

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Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. I remember linking arms with other boys in first or second grade (about 1950) and marching around the playground at school chanting, "Hey hey, get out of our way! We just got back from the USA!" This was in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, I understood USA to stand for US Army. We were imitating our fathers who had served in World War II. All of us had been born during the war, and five years later, we often talked proudly about the the heroism of our fathers.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memory of this chant, Anonymous and thanks for also including demographical information.

      Your comment about the "A" in USA standing for "army" makes sense. Since I first heard that chant (as an adult) I've felt that the "A" standing for "America" didn't quite fit.

  2. When I attended grade school in north Portland (Oregon) from 1956–1959 boys used to lock arms and march across the playground chanting "Hey! Hey! Get out of my way! I just got back from the U.S.A." My impression now is that this was more popular during my early days there (say around 1957) than later on, and had largely died out when I left (in 1959), but all I'm really sure of is that it was in use there in the late fifties. My classmate Ron said that he had made up the chant and that everybody else was saying it wrong; he insisted that the final letters should be U.S.C. That caught my attention at the time because getting back from the USA didn't make sense to me when we were living in the USA--but Ron's version didn't make any better sense. Though asked repeatedly about it he couldn't explain what "USC" might be and it didn't rhyme either.

    I don't remember anything particular about the activity associated with the chant except linking arms and marching. I have a memory of once seeing maybe a dozen older boys, arms linked, crossing the asphalt playground and the other kids scattering in front of them.

    1. Hello, sbh.

      Thanks for sharing your memories of the "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" chant. Thanks also for including demographical information (where and when you remember playing this chant).

      I agree with you that Ron's version that ends in "USC" probably wasn't the way that chant was originally composed because it doesn't rhyme.

      It's interesting that both you and anonymous who commented earlier remember this chant from the 1950s. I wonder if anyone remembers "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" from earlier than 1950.

  3. I remember the girls in grammar school, aged eleven years, doing this arms-linked "Hey, hey, get out of my way" marching routine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin circa 1958 or 1959. I saw it performed only once though. It did not seem to have much traction as a cultural phenomonon.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories of "Hey, hey get out of my way."

      And thanks for including demographic information.

      It's funny how some chants and rhymes have longevity and others don't last long at all.

      It seems that a number of people throughout the USA remember this chant.

    2. I should also note that -as cited in this post- the chant "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" is not only remembered by people living in various states in the USA, but also from various Canadian cities and one city (so far) in Mexico.

  4. I remember this chant from about the late 1960s or 1970/71 in an elementary school in California (either Hawthorne or Torrance, CA). As stated by others, I and a couple of other boys put our arms on each other's shoulders and walked around the playground saying,"Hey, hey, get outta my way. I just got back from the USA." After reading other posts, it's possible we used "our way" and "we." After over 40 years it's hard to remember for certain.

    I can only remember doing that a couple of times, but somehow the words stuck in my mind all these years. I never remember hearing what it was about; it was something I did just because the other kids I was with were doing it. But all these years I have believed USA meant our country. Interesting new perspective with US Army.

    1. Emil Therianos, thanks for sharing your memories of "hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" along with demographics.

      The "just got back to the USA" phrase with the "A" meaning "America" makes sense if a person or people who had left the USA and then returned to that country. The "A" for "army" may make more sense and also might explain why the people chanting thought that other people should get out of their way (because they were marching in formation?).

      I love reading all of these comments. Keep them coming!

  5. I recall this chant being used as described above when I was in elementary school from 1956 to 1961 in Vancouver, British Columbia. I think that my father, who was in the RCAF during the war, may have known it as well. In any case, most of my school mates were the children of veterans as well since they lived in a development built to provide housing for veterans and their families. All the streets were named after battles.

    1. Thanks unknown!

      I appreciate you sharing your memories of this chant and adding demographic information.

      Given that you lives in Canada, did your chant say "I just got back to the USA?"

  6. I just happened to find this Omega Psi Phi, Inc. step show chant that is quite similar to "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way":

    "I said move out the way and let the Ques go past.
    So get back.
    The Ques are coming. The Ques are coming".

    This chant begins at 2:15 in the video.

    Omega Psi Phi, Inc (whose members are also known as "Ques") is a university based historically Black Greek letter fraternity. Members of that fraternity who served in the United States military or were serving in the military may have adapted that chant from a military cadences.

  7. I am blessed with exceptional memory skills and clearly recall Hey Hey etc....I just came back from the USA when I was in Grade 2 in 1961-62 Alberta, Canada. My schoolyard buddies and I did indeed link arms and paraded around the school playground while we chanted this message. I had never been to the United States at that point in my young life and imagined it to be an exotic destination at the time.

    1. Greetings, Unknown!

      Thanks for sharing your memory of "Hey Hey Get Out Of The Way" with us. And thanks for remembering :o) to add demographics!