Thursday, September 18, 2014

Children's Playground Rhymes About Shooting Someone Or Being Shot

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents a small sample of children's playground rhymes that mention someone shooting another person or being shot.

There are LOTS of examples of such rhymes, and there are MANY other very old and contemporary rhymes that mention a person being hit, kicked, punched, slapped, and/or more. Playground rhymes are a reflection of the society that children grow up in. They include so much violence because violence permeates our society.

I believe that one of the reason children chant these types of rhymes is to safely experience flaunting societal limits and taboos. However, I also believe that children need to be taught that guns are very dangerous and that shooting someone should never be a person's response when they don't like someone or are angry with someone.

Thanks to all those who have collected these examples or have contributed examples that are included in this post.

Note: Although this blog focuses on African American culture and other Black cultures throughout the world, many of the examples included in this post are from White contributors, and those examples are (or were) chanted by White children or by children of Color or both.

These examples are presented in alphabetical order, and are numbered for referencing purposes only. Contributor comments are included with some examples. Unless the contributor gave a title for his or her example, I've used the first line of each example as its title. I've also added brief editorial comments after a few of these examples.

A, B

C, D
Coca Cola came to town
Diet Pepsi shot him down
Dr. Pepper picked him up
Now we all drink 7up
-adam, hope, lana (United Kingdom),, January 20, 2009

A complete transcription of this video can be found on this pageee of my cococjams cultural website

E, F

G, H

I, J
One time, I was in elementary school & I was riding the bus back from some field trip when some kids sang

"I believe I can die,
I've been shot by the F.B.I.,
all I wanted was a chicken wing,
but they shot me at Burger King
-Dylan Baranski,, retrieved on September 18, 2014
This is a parody of R&B singer R. Kelly's 1996 hit song "I Believe I Can Fly". Click for a pancocojams post on Children's Parodies of "I Believe I Can Fly". Another example of this parody is below.

Hand Jives I've learned as a kid living in VA. Please Post some that you know!!!
(To the tune of I Believe I Can Fly)

I believe I can fly
I got shot by the F.B.I
All I wanted was some chicken wings
and a little bit of collad greens
I believe I can soar
I got a beaten at the geocery store
This is anotheer parody version of "I Believe I Can Fly".

(A Barney one)

I hate you, you hate me,
we chased Barney up a tree.
With a 44 caliper shot him in the head,
aren't you glad that Barney's dead.
-GUEST,Random college student putting off her essay,[hereafter given as Mudcat: Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Bit the Teacher's Toe!], November 3, 2006
There are numerous parodies of the "I Love You, You Love Me" theme song for the American children's television show "barney", and just about all of them are quite gruesome.

Jingle bells,
Jingle bells,
Santa Claus Is dead.
Grandma took an M16
and shot him in the head.
-source:, retrieved on September 18, 2014
This is a parody of the Christmas song "Jingle Bells".

K, L

M, N
Mama mama can’t you see
What the army’s done to me
made me watch Barney
Tick Tock toe
three in a row
Michael got shot by GI Joe

this is Michael Jackson, some people say your mama but they don’t because you’re not supposed to talk about somebody’s mother
-Conraya, (11 year old African American girl, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, collected by Azizi Powell), 2008
I find this example and its comment significant for sociological/cultural reasons.

The earliest "Mama Mama Can't You See" rhymes that I've heard (in 1999) mentioned that Barney got shot by GI Joe ("Barney" being the purple dinasaur television character, and "GI Joe" being the small action soldier toy). I later observed some children -mostly girls- saying "Your mama got shot by GI Joe" (around 2002). This example substituted the name of Pop singer "Michael Jackson"
for "Mama" because "you're not supposed to talk about someone's mother".

it goes mama mama cant you see clap clap clap what the babies done to me clap clap clap some one stole my screen tv clap clap clap now i got to watch dumb barney clap clap clap tic tac toe three in a row clap clap clap barney got shot by the g i joe clap clap clap mama called the Doctor and the doctor said clap clap clap play this game till your hands get red . that is it
-manda,, 2009

Miss Molly had a baby,
The baby's name was Tim,
She put him in a bathtub,
To see if he could swim.
He ate up all the water,
He drank up all the soap,
He woulda ate the bathtub but it wouldn't fit his throat!
Miss Molly called the doctor,
Miss Molly called the nurse,
Miss Molly called the lady with the alligator purse!
Measles said the doctor,
Measles said the nurse,
Pizza said the lady with the alligator purse!
Miss Molly shot the doctor,
Miss Molly stabbed the nurse,
Miss Molly paid the lady with the alligator purse!

Early '90's, Calgary, Canada
-Guest, Mudcat: Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Bit the Teacher's Toe!, April 13, 2005
This rhyme is more widely known as "Miss Lucy Had A Baby"

Whenever I used to go over to my cousins house, me and my two cousins always used to do this one clapping game,

My mummy is a baker, yummy yummy big fat tummy,
My daddy is a dustbin man, smelly, smelly, smelly, smelly,
My sister is a show off, how'd ya like it?, how'd ya like it?
My brother is a cowboy, BANG BANG. You're dead fifty bullets in your head

My doggy is a singer, singing aye aye ippy pipe aye, Apple pie, singing aye aye ippy ippy aye, Apple pie, singing aye aye pipe the Germans stole our chippy, singing aye aye pip yippee aye.

The are actions as well:
you rub your tummy for 'yummy yummy big fat tummy'
You hold your nose for 'smelly smelly...'
You put your hand on your head for 'how'd ya like it...'
You fake a gun for 'BANG BANG...'
You link arms and dance in a circle in partners and swap around for the 'aye aye ippy...' Part
-Treasure D, [United Kingdom], 09-08-2014

O, P
One bright morning
In the middle of the night
Two dead boys
Got up to fight.

Back to back
They faced each other
Drew their swords
And shot their mother.

Two deaf policemen
Heard the noise
Came and killed
Those two dead boys.

If you don't believe
All this is true,
Ask the blindman.
He saw it too.

-Source: Abrahams (1969), hereafter given as "Mudcat: Jump Rope Listing"

From 1986-8, in Spirit Lake Iowa….

On top of old smoky, all covered with sand,
I shot my poor teacher, with a big rubber band!
I shot her with pleasure, I shot her with pride!
I couldnt've missed her...she's eighty feet wide!

school yard staples.
-Neighmond (Chaz), Mudcat: Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Bit the Teacher's Toe!, April 5, 2005
This is a parody of the song "On Top Of Old Smokey"
Another commenter who shared a dfferent parody version of "On Top Of Old Smokey" that included knocking the teacher "to the floor with a loaded forty-four" and "hanging the principal" wrote that "This was, of course, sung with no intention of shooting (or hanging) anybody, and the adults in our vicinity knew better than to take it so."

From Denver, Colorado, mid-1980's. I learned them from a white kid but the neighborhood was about 80% black and I don't know where he learned them]

On top of Old Smoky, all covered in blood,
I shot my poor teacher with a .44 slug.

I went to her funeral, I went to her grave,
Some people threw flowers, I threw a grenade.

I looked in her coffin, she wasn't quite dead,
So I took a bazooka and blew off her head.

On top of old smokey
All covered in blood
I shot my poor teacher
with a .44 slug

I shot her for pleasure
I shot her for fear
I shot her for drinking
My Budweiser beer

I went to her funeral
I went to her grave
Some people threw flowers
But I threw grenades

I looked in her coffin
She wasn't quite dead
So I took a machete
And cut off her head

They took me to prison
Put me in a cell
So I grabbed a bazooka
And blew them to hell

I probably first heard these in 4th grade or so, maybe 3rd.
-Scoville, Mudcat: Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Bit the Teacher's Toe!,
November 3, 2006
Regarding that blogger mentioning race in her comment, I participated in that Mudcat discussion, and asked contributors to share their race and/or the race of the person from whom they learned the rhymes. I did so because I believed (and still believe) that race and ethnicity (mostly meaning "Latino) in the United States may be a factor in which types of rhymes, and which rhyme in particular that a person knows. I also believed (and still believe) that race may influence how a person performs a particular rhyme.

Q, R

S, T
As for "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", there's

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school,
We have tortured all the teachers, we have broke the golden rule,
We have went into the office and we shot the principal,
The school is burning down!
Glory, glory for the burning of the school (3x)
The school is burning down.
-Jerry Friedman, Mudcat: Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Bit the Teacher's Toe!], September 13, 1997
This is a parody of the song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic .

there are so many diffrent ways we said

tic tac toe
give me a high
give me a low
give me a three in a row
bunny got shot by a ufo.

then who ever won rock paper sisors had to move there finger across the other persons back and say spider crawling up your back
which finger did that

then the other person had to guess which finger and if you won you said
I win you lose
know [now] you get to chose punch or bruse
I win fair and square now I get to pull you hair
-Amy Perry,
"Tic Tac Toe " Hand clapping game demonstration", 2014
Another commenter wrote that an additional verse for this rhyme is:
that hurt, that hurt
now I get to pull your shirt
"Bunny got shot by a ufo" is probably a folk etymology form of "Barney got shot by a GI Joe". I've seen that line written in other online versions of the "Mama Mama Can't You See" rhyme.

Tilly the toiler
Sat on a boiler.
The boiler got hot.
Tillie got shot.
How many times did Tilly get shot?
One, two, three, ... (* Continues count *)
-Source: Solomon (1980), Mudcat: Jump Rope Listing
"Toiler" probably means "factory worker", a manual laborer.

U, V

W, X

Y, Z

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment