Edited by Azizi Powell
Tom Hanks - Shimmy Shimmy
Antrell Banes, Published on Jun 24, 2014
This is Part I of a 3 part series of posts on playground rhymes sources of the movie Big's rap "Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop."
This post provides my general comments about children's playground rhymes, and provides 2 examples of that "rap" that were featured in the movie Big. Part 1 of this post also provides the words to an example of this "rap" that was recited by actor Tom Hanks in 2009 on a UK television talk show.
In addition, Part 1 of this post briefly provides a framework for understanding folklorists' views about how multiple versions of the same playground rhyme may be created.
Parts 2 & 3 include examples of older playground rhymes that are probable sources for movie Big's rap "Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop". Those posts demonstrate that many lines found in that rap are also found as "floaters" in playground rhymes that aren't members of the large family of "Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop" rhymes.
for Part 2 of this post.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/12/sources-of-movie-bigs-rap-shimmy-shimmy.html for Part 3 of this series.
Big is a well regarded 1988 American movie starring Tom Hanks. That movie is about a boy who wishes on a magic machine that he were big and wakes up the next morning and finds he is a man.
Two very similar versions of the children’s rhyme “Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop" are featured in the movie Big. The video of one scene from that movie that includes a version of that "rap" is found at the beginning of this post.
Here are the words to the two versions of the movie Big's rap from http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/b/big-script-transcript-tom-hanks.html
*I made no changes in the words, but for the benefit of this post I formatted this rap into a standard poetry pattern & numbered those lines for the purpose of textual analysis.
[Given here as Example #1] Scene 4 Billy & Josh
1. Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop!
2. Shimmy, shimmy rock!
3. Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop!
4. Shimmy, shimmy rock!
5. I met a girlfriend a triscuit!
6. She said, a triscuit a biscuit!
7. Ice cream, soda pop,
8. vanilla on the top!
9. Ooh, Shelly's out, walking down the street,
10. ten times a week!
11. I read it! I said it!
12. I stole my momma's credit!
13. I'm cool! I'm hot!
14. Sock me in the stomach three more times!
[Given here as Example #2]* Scene 12 Josh
1....Ooh! The spades go, Down! Down! Baby!
2. Down! Down the roller coaster!
3. Sweet, sweet baby!
4. Sweet, sweet delectable!
5. Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop!
6. Shimmy, shimmy rock!
7. Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop!
8. Shimmy, shimmy rock!
9. I met a girlfriend a triscuit!
10. She said a triscuit a biscuit!
11. Ice cream, soda pop,
12. vanilla on the top!
13. Ooh Shelly, walking down the street,
14. ten times a week!
15. I met it! I said it!
16. I stole my mother's credit!
17. I'm cool! I'm hot!
18. Sock me in the stomach three more times!
Here's a video of Tom Hanks' recitation of the Shimmy Shimmy Co Co Pa rap in 2009:
Tom Hanks does the 'Big' rap - Friday Night with Jonathan Ross -BBC One
Uploaded by BBC on May 8, 2009
Jonathan's guests are one of Hollywood's most enduring superstars, double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks...
A number of persons who posted comments on that video's viewer comment thread shared their transcription of Tom Hanks' recitation of that Shimmy Shimmy Co Co Pa "rap".
Here's one of those transcriptions which I reformated in poetry form:Here's one such "transcription" of the words chanted in that movie [Given here as Example #3]*:
1. The space goes down, down baby,
2. down, down the roller coaster.
3. Sweet, sweet baby,
4. sweet, sweet, don't let me go.
5. Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop.
6. Shimmy, shimmy, rock.
7. Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop.
8. Shimmy, shimmy, rock.
9. I met a girlfriend - a triscuit.
10. She said, a triscuit - a biscuit.
11. Ice cream, soda pop,
12. vanilla on the top.
13. Ooh, Shelly's out, walking down the street,
14. ten times a week.
15. I read it. I said it.
16. I stole my momma's credit.
17. I'm cool. I'm hot.
18. Sock me in the stomach three more times!
-xxMarz456xx ; http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=p9z2hJwJuqg&page=2, 2009
COMMENTS ABOUT "THE SPADES (OR "THE SPADES) GO
The most significant difference between those examples of this rap which are given in this post as Example #2 and Example #3 is the replacement of the word "space" in the phrase "the space goes" for the word "spades" in the phrase "the spades go". This change may have been accidental or it could reflect Tom Hank's recognition that the word "spades" was and still is an offensive referent for Black people.
It's usually adults that change a taboo or "politically" offensive word or phrase in a playground rhyme to a more acceptable word or phrase. Those changes can quickly become the norm and as such can be transmitted to generations of children learning that rhyme. The very widely known playground rhyme "Eenie Meenie Minie Mo" is an excellent example of a rhyme in which adults purposely replaced a racially offensive word to an inoffensive word. Nowadays, most children aren't aware that the word "tiger" (or some other societally correct word) in the line "catch a tiger by his toe" is a replacement for what is now known as "the n word".
I believe that such a purposeful change in the wording of a rhyme occurred when, upon request, Tom Hanks recited the movie Big's rap "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" during his interview in 2009 on that BBC television show.
In 2006 I wrote a rather lengthy reply to a question that was posed to me on a Folk & Blues forum about my rather tepid reaction as an African American to the inclusion of the phrase "the spades go" that was found in am example of the playground rhyme "Two Lips". That example is reposted below as Example #4 in Playground rhymes that include the phrase "the spades go".
To summarize my comment, I indicated that while I have a strongly felt visceral reaction to the pejorative word that is now known as "the n word" -regardless of who uses it- I don't have that same "hit in the gut" reaction to the phrase "the spades go". I think that there are three main reasons for that:
1. Even though I believe that the phrase "the spades" is a referent for "Black people", it's not a referent that is used that often in the United States (at least, in my experiences).
2. Because it's children who are reciting rhymes that include the phrase "the spades go", I give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't know the pejorative meaning of "the spades". That pejorative meaning is sometimes alluded to in the colloquial expression "call a spade a spade". The racial meaning of that expression came about because in a deck of playing cards, the spade category of cards is the color black.
3. In the context of children's playground rhymes, the phrase "the spades" has no literal meaning nowadays, but merely serves as an introduction to the rhyme itself.
To read my full comment in that discussion about the phrase "the spades", on that folk music forum, visit http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=81350#1922124.
Additional information about "the spades goes" and other lines from this rap are provided in Part 2 of this post.
Before moving to a presentation of probable early sources for the movie Big's Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop Rap, I want to emphasize the following points:
1. All playground rhymes have multiple versions (variants). Changes in the words and to a much lesser extent, changes in the tunes and performances of playground rhymes are both natural and expected. The words to a rhyme usually change over a period of time among different populations or within the same population. The words to a playground rhyme may also change slightly or significantly within the same period of time among the same population, or among different populations, even within the same city or the same or closely adjourning neighborhoods. (My sense is that the internet is greatly impacting the recognition if not the actual accelleration of this process. Internet websites and blogs contain far more versions of playground rhymes, particularly English language playground rhymes (meaning examples of the rhymes that English speaking children & teens actually chant and perform), than off-line published books, magazines, journals, or audio/visual recordings.)
2. Versions of a particular playground rhyme can be compared with each other to determine the older (or oldest) print or recorded form of that rhyme or how closely a particular example conforms to an older version. However, there are no right or wrong versions of any particular playground rhyme.
3. Most playground rhymes are composed by stringing together "floating" verses from two or more other rhymes These two line rhyming verses often are about unrelated subjects. The reason why those lines are called "floating verses" is because they often can be found in certain other playground rhymes.
The sources of these rhyming verses are other playground rhymes; nursery (Mother Goose) rhymes; unrecorded or recorded songs including folk songs, R&B songs, and other music genres; popular sayings, words from television shows & books; and portions of advertisements etc.
Each of the versions of "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" given above include verses that are found in several older playground rhymes. And those floating verses for those older rhymes appear to have originated in the creative wellspring of African American culture.
By publishing this post, I'm not disputing the contributions of the writers & producers of this award winning movie. This post simply indicates that the sources for the versions of the "rap" featured in that movie originated among African Americans. In that regard, that creativity should also be recognized & appreciated.
Also, by publishing this post, I'm not attempting to name all of the past & present versions of playground rhymes which contain lines from the movie Big's "rap". To do so would probable be an impossible task, in part because old versions of Black children's rhymes were seldom collected, and in part because new versions of these rhymes are constantly being created by Black children and by non-Black children.
In the United States, it appears that there may be regional differences and perhaps also racial differences in the titles these rhymes are known by. For instance, "Down Down Baby" is how these rhymes and other closely related rhymes (like "Down Down Baby, I know Karate") are known among African Americans in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area where I live. However, in Atlantic City, New Jersey where I was born & spent my childhood in the 1950s, that handclap rhyme was always referred to (at least by African Americans I knew) as "Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop (or a similarly worded line). I also knew the closely related rhyme "I Love (Like) Coffee. I Love (Like) Tea".
Nowadays all of these rhymes are usually performed as handclap routines/games. However, some people recall versions of these rhymes being chanted while jumping (skipping) rope.
The Real Meaning Of "The Spades Go" & "The Space Go" In Playground Rhymes
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