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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Forms Of The Name "Billie Jean" In "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents comments about and text examples of versions of the rhyme "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" that include references to Pop singer/composer Michael Jackson and the name "Billie Jean" or folk etymology forms of the name "Billie Jean". Folk etymology is "a change in the spelling or pronunciation of a word or phrase or the replacement of an unfamiliar word or phrase with a more familiar word phrase or sound. Folk etymology occurs because of mishearing, misremembering, or a mistaken assumption about that word or phrase.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Michael Jackson for his musical legacy. Thanks to all those whose examples of this rhyme are included in this post. Thanks also to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

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GENERAL OVERVIEW
"Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" (or similar names) is a very large family of playground rhymes that are very widely known in the United States. The rhyme is either played as a (usually two person) hand clap game or as a mildly competitive, group hand slapping game. The hand clapping game is usually played by children while the hand slapping version of this rhyme is often played by adults as well as children.

A number of "Michael Jackson" versions of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" allude to the incident in 1984 when Michael Jackson's hair accidently caught on fire during the filming of a Pepsi Cola commercial. However, my sense is that few children who recite those rhymes are aware that those rhymes are based on an actual historical event. Furthermore, most of these "long versions" of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" document the 1980s cola wars between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola products. Click http://www.businessinsider.com/soda-wars-coca-cola-pepsi-history-infographic-2011-11?op=1 to read about what is known as "the cola wars".

Some "Michael Jackson" versions of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" include a reference to "Billie Jean" or a folk etymology form of that name. Others examples do not. Here's an example of a Michael Jackson version of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" which doesn't include any reference to "Billie Jean":
Down by the river with the hanky bankys
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
say an
epp
opp
epp
bop
bop
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; http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=940347/15/2007 "Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky", July 15, 2007

Some examples of "Michael Jackson versions" of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" include homophobic language or homophobic references. However, the examples featured in this post don't contain such language.

To date, I've not found any examples of Michael Jackson versions of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" in books of children's playground rhymes. I've also not found examples of these rhymes as YouTube videos. However, examples of Michael Jackson versions of "DBTBHP" rhymes are included in a number of viewer comment sections of YouTube videos of some short versions of that playground rhyme. Besides those YouTube viewer comment threads, to date, I've not found examples of Michael Jackson versions of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" elsewhere on the internet except for pages of my cocojams website*, and on the Mudcat folk forum discussion thread about "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" that I started in 2006.**

In Michael Jackson's record "Billie Jean", the name "Billie Jean" is a female's first name. That name is made up of two female personal names. A personal name that is made up of two independent names is called a "double name". The double name "Billie Jean" is mostly associated with the American South. However, people throughout the United States are much more familiar with the other female double names such as "Mary Ann", "Mary Jane", and "Mary Beth". I believe that a major reason why the name "Billie Jean" is so often "folk etymologized" in "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" rhymes is that the name "Billy" is considered a male name, even if it is spelled "Billie" and is combined with the female name "Jean". Another reason the name "Billie Jean" is folk etymologized is that the word "jeans" is most often used by Americans as a referent for a style of pants worn by females and males (i.e. "blue jeans" and "levi jeans"). The association of the word "jean" with the clothing attire "jeans" can result in that word being misunderstood, particularly if that rhyme is heard and not read. (Prior to the internet, most examples of playground rhymes that children actually chant other weren't written down.)

As found in some examples below, a relatively common folk etymology version of the name "Billie Jean" is "jelly bean". That folk etymology opened up even more possibilities for this rhyme.

It should be noted that since the death of Michael Jackson in June 2009 some examples of these long forms of DBTBHP no longer refer to Michael Jackson but instead refer to another singer who some fans aren't fond of such as Lady Gaga & Miley Cyrus. Read two examples of those rhymes in the comment section below. Also, some examples of this rhyme that refer to Michael Jackson include "RIP" meaning "Rest In Peace" in parenthesis after that deceased Pop singers's name.

Also, what I refer to as "Michael Jackson" versions of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" [DBTBHP] are examples which include a reference to pop singer Michael Jackson or a reference to another celebrity (such as "Michael Jordan") whose name probably inadvertently substitutes for Michael Jackson. Read an example of one of those rhymes in the comment section below.

** Click these links to find additional examples of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky":
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/05/song-sources-for-down-by-banks-of-hanky.html "Song Sources For Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky"

http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/02/down-by-banks-of-hanky-panky-video.html "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" (video & different text examples)

and
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94034 "Origin of Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky"

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VIDEO OF MICHAEL JACKSON'S SONG "BILLIE JEAN"

Michael Jackson - Billie Jean


michaeljacksonVEVO, Uploaded on Oct 2, 2009

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

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SELECTED RHYME EXAMPLES
These ten examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting dates with the oldest examples given first. The line that includes the name "Billie Jean" or a folk etymology form of "Billie Jean" is given in italics to highlight it and not because that line is emphasized during the chant.

Example #1
Down by the river near the hankey pank
where the bullfrogs jump from bank, to bank,
and they say E I O U,
your momma stinks and so do you
so ping pong ding dong
your daddy smells like king kong.
Ask your teacher what she wears,
polka dotted underwear.
Not too big and not too small,
just the size of city hall.
Michael Jackson went to town,
coca-cola brought him down.
Coca-cola brought him up,
now he's drinking 7up.
7up with no cafiene, now he's seein' belgain (pronounced beligene).
Belgain is outta sight
,
now we're talking dynamite.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BAM!
-Veggie; http://www.cocojams.com/content/handclap-jump-rope-and-elastics-rhymes August 21, 2006

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Example #2
I learned this and forgot most of it (not complete! but it goes sort of like this....

Down by the bay in beverly hills
where the bull frog jumps from bank to banky
and the heeps hops, coffee shops,
we all drink mochas and we wear flip flops
(faster)
I pledge allegence to the flag
Michal jackson makes me gag
coca cola has cafeine and now we're talking billy jean
billy jean when out of style now lets sit and talk a while

diddy diddy donkey
daddy had a donkey
donkey died, daddy cried
diddy diddy donkey!
theres a party round the corner wont you please please come
bring your own cappuchinos and your own chewing gum
what is your boy friends name?______ (whoever the clap lands on has to come up with a name)

_______ will be there blowing kisses in the air saying I love ______ (who ever came up with the name) saying I love_____ saying O U T spells you are out!
OR
______will be there blowing kissed in the air singin' I... Love...Ma..Ma...Mia, singin' I love ma...ma...mia singin' O U T spells you are out!
-Guest,mooseormeece?, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94034 [hereafter given as Mudcat: Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky, May 21, 2008]

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Example #3
downon by the river side hanky panky
were the bullfrogs jump from bank
saying a-e-i-o-u bamboo
a-e-i-o-u bamboo
michel jakson came to town
coca cola shot hem down
dr.pepper fixed him
up now were talking 7-up
7-up has no cafene
now were talking bilajean
bilajean has no caffeine

no caffene no caffeine
1234 shut the door enless u ant to here more
-Guest, maeson A., Mudcat: Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky, June 27, 2008

****
Example #4
Down by the river with the hank to pank
where the bullfrog jumped from bank to bank
saying eeps ipes opes oops
chilly willy ding dong
i pledge allegiance to the flag
michael jackson sings so bad
coca cola roots me up
now we're talkin 7Up
7Up has no caffine
now we're talkin billy gene
billy gene whent outta sight

now we're talkin bobby white
bobby white went out of town
riding on a rocket
stuck a feather in his hat
and called it hershey's chocolate"
-Guest, Deana Ashley :); http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=81350 "I’m Rubber; You’re Glue", August 24, 2008
-snip-
"out of sight" = a 1960s African American originated vernacular phrase that meant "exceptional". However, in these "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" rhymes "out of sight" is almost always given its literal meaning of "someone or something that people are unable to see".

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Example #5
Down by the bank by the hanky pank
where the bullfrog jumped from bank to bank
singing eeeps ops ohps ooops
listen to the rythym of the ding dang dong
michael jackson went to town
pepsi cola shot him down
dr. pepper fixed him up
now we're talking 7up
7up has no caffiene
now we're billie jean
billie jean went down the street singing
dooo waaah diddy didy dum diddy dooo
-Guest; Mudcat: Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky Rhymes; November 6, 2009

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Example #6
Down by the bank of the hanky panky,
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky,
To the Hip Hop Shirley Pop,
I pledge allegience to the flag,
of Michael Jackson makes me gag,
Coca-Cola burnt his butt,
Now he's drinking Seven-Up
Seven-Up has no caffeine,
So Now he's drinking Jelly Bean
Jelly Bean is out of sight,

So Now he's drinking Sprite
Spell it!
S-P-R-I-T-E!
-Guest, Madison from Metro Detroit, Michigan; Mudcat: Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky Rhymes; March 31, 2010

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Example #7
mine goes like:down by the banks of hanky tank
were the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank
saying eeps ipes opes ums
skiddle diddle dong
my brother smells like king kong
pledge allegiance to the flag
micheal jackson is a rat
coca cola blew up
now im drinking 7up
7up has got caffeine
no im drinking billy jean
billy jean is out of sigh

now im drinking sunny light
say 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
your out
-MegaGirlzation, http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=O2CSWmfiNKM; 2010
-snip-
"no" is probably a typo for the word "now".
"out of sigh" is a folk etymology form of the phrase "out of sight".
"your" = "you are"

****
Example #8
down by the banks of the hanky panks
fe fi fo fom me say ding dang dong
i pledge allegiance to the flag
Michel Jackson makes me gag
cocola fizes up
now i am talking 7up
7up has no caffeine now
i am talking jelly bean
jellybean is outa sight

now i im talking dynamite
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 boom
and who ever boom land on is out
-Kissyxblythe; http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=iqhvCN0Uvfk, 2011

****
Example #9
Down by the banks of the hanky pank,
where the bullfrogs jump from bank 2 bank,
sayin eeps, ipes, opes, oops,
listen to the rhythm of the ding dang dong.
Micheal Jackson went to town,
pepsi cola shot im down
Dr Pepper fixed im up,
now were talkin 7up
7up has no caffine,
now were talkin billy jean.
billy jean was walking down the street singin,

Ooh, I diddy diddy dum diddy doo.
Lincoln, Lincoln I been thinkin.
what on earth have you been drinkin
is it whiskey is it wine
OMG its turpentine 123...9
-MufinCat123, http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=ZC8INeM0w5A, 2011

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Example #10
Its this:

Down by the banks of the hanky panky.
Oops i said yo booty stanky.
Oooh Ahh Skit Skat,
big fat dirty rat.
I pledge alegence to the flag.
Michael jackson is my dad.
Coca cola burning up,
now its time for 7-up.
7-up had no cafine,
now its time for Billy jean.
Billy jean went out of town riding on a pony,

stuck a feather in his head
and called it macaroni.
-uallnomecuz; http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=ZC8INeM0w5A, January 2012

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RELATED LINK
http://www.cocojams.com/content/down-banks-hanky-panky-rhyme-sources "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" Rhyme Sources"

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Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

16 comments:

  1. Here's an example of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" rhyme that has the same structure as what I call "Michael Jackson" versions of those rhymes, but refers to another singer who many people have dissed:

    Subject: RE: Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
    From: GUEST
    Date: 20 Mar 11 - 11:46 AM

    Down by the banks of the hanky panky
    Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
    Singing Eeep Op Eeep Op
    Skiddle diddle eep op op
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    I pledge allegiance to the flag
    Miley Cyrus makes me gag
    Miley Cyrus came to town, Coca Cola shot her down
    Dr. Pepper drink it up, now we're drinking 7-Up
    7-Up has no caffeine, now we're drinking gasoline
    Gasoline ran out of fuel, now we're drinking Mountain Dew
    Mountain Dew fell off the Mountain, now we're drinking from the fountain
    Fountain broke, now we're drinking PLAIN-OLD-DIET-COKE

    Source: http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94034
    -snip-
    An earlier example on that discussion thread [from GUEST,guest-Mandi, age 14
    Date: 24 Dec 10 - 12:08 AM] included this comment:
    "Also, since Michael Jackson's death (may he R.I.P.) many people have substituted Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus for Michael Jackson or changed that line to "Michael Jackson makes me gag". My particular group of friends has done both ("Lady Gaga makes me gag") and I think it's kind of a nice modern version of the song."
    -snip-
    You can probably guess which rhyming word was used earlier instead of the word "gag".

    The example that Mandi shared is also interesting to me because it included this folk etymology form of the name "Billie Jean":
    "7-up has no caffeine
    Now we're wearing Levi jeans
    Levi jeans are out of style
    Now we're talking for a while"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here's an example from that Mudcat thread on "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" that includes a reference to former basketball player Michael Jordan instead of singer Michael Jackson:

    Subject: RE: Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
    From: GUEST,Guest
    Date: 12 Mar 13 - 01:13 PM

    Down by the river near the hanky panky were the bull frogs jump from bank to Banky singing a e i o u Michael Jordan went to town coca cola shot him down Mountain Dew shot him up now where talkng seven up seven up has no caffien now where talking billy jean billy jean is out of sight now where talking dynamite 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    -snip-
    This example is posted in the paragraph, run on sentence, no punctuation style that is commonly used by some bloggers. Sometimes the website's program (software?) converts everything posted to paragraph form. That's happened to me when I post a rhyme on YouTube's viewer comment thread & it's happened on an old version of my cocojams.com website. But that's not the case on Mudcat's threads.

    I think the main reason why that writing style is used on the internet is because it's faster to type and speed is far more important than adhering to grammatical rules.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Down by the banks of the hanky panky where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky with a aeiou micheal Jordan came to town coca cola shot him down mountain dew shot him up now we're talking seven up 7up has no caffeine now we're talking billy jean billy jean went down the street singing do a dilly dilly dum dilly day singing do a dilly dilly dum dilly day with a aeiou are out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, anonymous for sharing that example.

      I think that Black basketball star Michael Jordan's name appears in these "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" because that name is confused with another "Michael" name with a "j" last name of a famous Black man - Michael Jackson.

      Other "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" examples substitute R&B singer Bobby Brown''s name for Michael Jackson. Both those men are Black and both sung R&B songs, though Michael Jackson was also considered to be a Pop singer. I don't think that this substitution was purposely, for instance, being made out of respect for Michael Jackson after he dead. I think that this is a result of folk etymology- people confusing one star for another because both men were Black singing stars (though Michael Jackson was much more successful), and also because of the tradition of children's rhymes with a character whose last name is "Brown".

      Delete
  4. Down by the bay where the hanky panky
    Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank
    Sayin' eep op eep op op skittle dittle kernel POP!
    I pledge allegiance to the flag
    Michael Jackson makes me gag Coca Cola has caffeine
    Now we're talkin' jelly beans jelly beans went out of sight
    Now we're back to the
    Down by the bay where the hanky panky
    Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank
    Sayin' eep op eep op op skittle dittle kernel POP!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks anonymous for sharing your example of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky.

      I've come across a number of examples of that rhyme that start with the words "down by the bay" like your example. I've also come across a number of examples of that rhyme that change the name "Billie Jean" to "jelly bean".

      Thanks again for visiting pancocojams!

      Delete
  5. I knew many versions growing up but these were the ones we used most often:

    Down by the banks of the hanky panky
    where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
    saying A E I O U kerplunk!

    AND

    Down by the banks of the hanky panky
    where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
    saying eep op eep op op
    skeedle deedle kernal pop
    i pledge allegiance to the flag
    Michael Jackson makes me gag
    Coca-cola has caffeine
    now we're drinking gasoline
    gasoline has no taste
    now we're eating tooth paste
    eep op eep op op
    skeedle deetle kernal POP!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for those examples, anonymous.

      That's the first time I've come across the "now we're eating toothpaste" line.

      :o)

      Delete
  6. Down by the bank of the hanky panky got my booty shaking wanky wanky going east side west side suicide pop

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing that example, Anonymous April 25, 2015.

      That's a new version of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" for me.

      Delete
  7. I don't remember the complete song that we used to sing but for the most part, it went like this:

    Down by the river of the Hanky Pank,
    Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank.
    Said "E-I-O-U" Your momma stinks and so do you.
    So ping pong Donkey Kong went to school with nothing on.
    Asked the teacher what to wear,
    polka-dotted underwear.
    Not too big, not too small just the size of [your local mall. ours was Broward] mall.
    -------------- Forgot lines here. Probabaly these below --------------------
    Michael Jackson went to town,
    coca-cola brought him down.
    Dr. Pepper fixed him up,
    now he's drinking 7up.
    7up has no caffeine, now we're talkin' Billie Jean
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Billie Jean is outta sight,
    now we're talking dynamite.
    10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BAM!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anonymous for sharing that version of Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky. That seems to be a well known version.

      My guess is that the name of mall portion came from the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida as Broward Mall is in Plantation, Florida. But I only know this information because I looked it up online :o)

      Best wishes to you!

      Delete
  8. Down by the river of hanky pan key where the bullfrog jump from bank to bank. Said E-I-O-U your mama stinks and so do you. Said king kong dING dong your dad look like king kong. Ask your teacher what she wear polka dotted underwear not too big not too small just the size of city hall. Michael Jackson went to town coca cola shot him down dr. Pepper fixed him up now we're talking seven up. Seven up has no cafine, now we're talking bulle jean. Billie Jean got in a fight now where talking Dino mite 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your example of the "Hanky Panky" rhyme, Unknown December 11, 2015.

      There are so many different versions of this rhyme!

      I wonder if "bulle jean" was a typo.

      Delete
  9. I know one:
    Down by the banks of the hanky panky where the bullfrog jupmps from bank to bank singing e-i-o-u your momma stinks and so do you so ping pong donley kong went to school with nothing on asked his tteacher what to wear, polka-dotted underwear, not too bbig not too small just the size of a rubber ball!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Unknown!

      Thanks for sharing your example of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky".

      This is the first time that I've read the line "not too big not too small/just the size of a rubber ball".

      Delete