Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sources Of The Movie Big's Rap Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop, Part II

Written by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a three part of a pancocojams series on playground rhymes sources for the "Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop" "rap" in the 1988 American movie Big.

Part I of this post provides my general comments about children's playground rhymes. In that first part of this post, I also provided the words to three examples of the movie Big's "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" rap.

Click for Part 2 of this series.

Click for Part 3 of this series.

Parts 2 & 3 include examples of older playground rhymes that are probable sources for movie Big's rap "Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop".

The featured line or phrase is given in capital letters. Underneath that title, information is given as to where that line or phrase is from with regard to the three recitations that Tom Hanks did of the movie Big's "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" rap. Those three examples I'm referring to in this post are two times in the 1988 movie itself, and one time in 2009 during a BBC television show interview. Each of those examples are given in full in Part 1 of this series.

The title of the selected example of the "source rhyme" is given in capital letters followed by the code SR ("source rhyme" or "selected rhyme") and an assigned number. These numbers are used consecutively throughout Parts 2-3 of this post. In each example, the focus line is given in italics to highlight that line.

With those introductory comments, here is Part II of this series:

"The spades go" is given as line 1 in Example #2 of the movie Big's "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" rap.

"The space goes" is given as line 1 in Example #3 of the movie Big's "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" rap.

I believe that the phrase "the spades go" predates the phrase "the space goes". I also believe that "the space goes" probably first came about as a result of mishearing or misremembering the phrase "the spades go". That misheard or misremembered phrase then was transmitted as the "real" words of that rhyme.

It's my position that "the spade goes" originally meant the same exact thing as "The Black [people] go". That phrase was said to give the mark of authenticity to the words that followed, since Black people - and in this sense Black girls- were seen of the arbiters of "the real way" that handclap rhymes were supposed to be said and performed. For this reason, persons who are interested in the origin of playground rhymes can look at examples of rhymes that begin with "the spades go" or "the space goes", or -much less frequently- "the Blacks go", as an indication that the people reciting those rhymes believed that the words came from Black people - or that Black people (that is to say, Black females) were the role models for the way those rhymes were "supposed to be" performed.

I wrote a rather lengthy reply to a question that was posed to me on another forum about my rather tepid reaction as an African American to the inclusion of the phrase "the spades go" in a British playground rhyme. In summary, I indicated that whereas I have a strongly felt visceral reaction to the pejorative word which 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 spades go". I believe 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


Source Rhyme #1
The spades the spades the spades go iny miny popsa kiney i love bomaragn a hop a scoth a liver roch a peach a plum i have a stick of chewing gum and if u want the other half this is wut you say: amen amen amendiego sandieago bostn bruins rah rah rah boo boo boo criss cross apple sauce do me a favor get lost while ur at it drop dead either that or lose ur head bang on trash cans bang on tin cans i can u can nobody else can sitting on the bench nuthing to do along comes some one..cohey coochey coo! andu tickle the other person

Source: Sally on Friday, May 6, 2005 - 08:07 pm:

[Note that I'm using the phrase after the introductory words "the spades go" as the title for this rhyme. Also, as an aside, note that this rhyme is written in essay form with little punctuation. For various reasons which are beyond this post, this is an increasingly common online way of writing children's playground rhymes.]

Source Rhyme #2:
I remember parts of this song:

The spades go two lips together
tie them together
bring back my love to me.

What is the me-ee-eening
of all these flow-er-er-ers
they tel the sto-or-or-y,
the story of love,
from me to you.

I saw the ship sail away,
it sailed three years and a day,
my love is far far away,
and I love him so, oh yes I do.

My heart goes bump ba de dump bump,
bump ba de dump bump,
over my love for you.

You are my one and only,
I love you passionately,
Source: Guest, susan; I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes [hereafter given as Mudcat: CR]

Note: The rhyme "Two Lips" will be the subject of an upcoming pancocojams post.

"the space goes"

Source Rhyme #3:
The space goes true love together
twilight forever
Bring back my love to me
What is the matter?
When we get married
And have some children
We’ll name them
Sandra and Jane
and Billy and Tom
And Betty and Jimmy now,
Source: Let's Slice The Ice (Eleanor Fulton and Pat Smith; St. Louis, Missouri; Magnamusic-Baton; 1978; p. 30 [This is a collection of African Americans' children rhymes from various states; hereafter given as "Slice The Ice", with the example's page number]

Source Rhyme #4:
The space goes
apple on a stick just makes me sick make my tummy go 2 4 6
not because im hungry
not because im clean
just because i kiss a boy behind the magazine
hey girls lets have some fun
here comes (name) with his pant undone
he can wiggle he can wobble he can do the twist
but most of all he cant do this close your eyes and count ten if you messs up start ova again
1, 2, 3, 4, ...
Source ; Cece; Whee Blog (website no longer viable); 10/9/2005

Source Rhyme #5:
Cinderella dressed in yella went up stairs to kiss her fella. She stepped on a crack and broke her back. Tried to stand and cut her hand. How many stitches did it take? The space goes boom boom skitty wat and tat and ah ah ah ah boom boom boom skitty witty wa wa, bubishka wa wa bubishka wa wa pow bang boom. I went to a Chinese restaurant to buy a loaf of bread bread bread. She put it in a half brown bag and this is what she said said said, my name is ki yi yippee yi, yippe yi ki yi humble berry, chocolate cherry, walla walla Washington, chop chop chow
- a href=" assessed 8/13/2009

Here's an example of a handclap rhyme with the introductory phrase "the Blacks go":

Source Rhyme #6
The Blacks go down down baby
Down by the roller coaster
Sweet sweet baby
I don't wanna let you go

Shimmy shimmy shimmy shimmy
shimmy shimmy-pop!
Shimmy shimmy shimmy shimmy
shimmy shimmy coke-ca-pop!

[Source: Shimmy Shimmy Coke-Ca-Pop!, A Collection of City Children's Street Games & Rhymes (John Langstaff, Carol Langstaff: Garden City, New York, Double Day & Co; 1973; p. 78)

The lines "shimmy shimmy rock" is probably a folk etymology form of "shimmy shimmy cocoa pop". "Shimmy shimmy rock" is given as line 2 & line 4 of Example #1 of the movie Big's "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" rap, Those words are given as lines 6 and 8 of Examples #2 and #3 of that rap.

The line "shimmy shimmy cocoa pop" is given as lines 1 and 3 of Example #1 of that rap. Those words are also given as lines 5 and 7 of Examples #2 and #3 of that rap.

Refer back to SR #6 for a source example of those lines.

The line "down down the roller coaster" is given as line 2 in Example #2 of the movie Big's "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop" rap.

See SR #6 for a source example.

The lines "Sweet, sweet baby,/ sweet, sweet, don't let me go" are given as lines 3 and 4 of Example #3 of that rap.

Example #1 does not include these lines. "Sweet, sweet baby!/Sweet, sweet delectable!" is given as lines 3 and 4 of Example #2. I believe that "Sweet, sweet delectable" is a folk etymology form of "sweet, sweet, don't let me go".

Refer to SR #6 for a very similar source example of "sweet sweet sweet don't let me go".

Comment: The lines "sweet sweet baby/I'll never let you go" (or similar versions of those lines) are a core verse of "Down Down Baby" handclap rhymes. Here's a very widely known version of that rhyme:

Source Rhyme #7:
Down, down baby
Down by the roller coaster
Sweet, sweet baby
I'll never let you go.

Shimmy shimmy coco pa
Shimmy shimmy pow!
Shimmy shimmy coco pa
Shimmy shimmy pow!
Grandma, Grandma sick in bed.
Called the doctor and the doctor said,
Let's get the rhythm of the head.
Ding dong.
Let's get the rhythm of the hands
Clap, clap.
Let's get the rhythm of the feet
Stomp, stomp.
Let's get the rhythm of the
Hot dog.
Put it all together and what do you get?
Ding-dong, clap, clap. Stomp, stomp. Hot dog.
Say it all backwards and what do you get?
Hot dog. Stomp, stomp. Clap, clap. Ding dong!
-multiple printed source; including Mudcat: CR

Editor: A video of this rhyme is included below.


The lines "I met a girlfriend a triscuit!/ She said a triscuit a biscuit!" are given in lines 5 & 6 of Example #1 and lines 9 & 10 of Examples #2 and #3 of that rap.

Here are two selected source examples of those lines:
Source Rhyme #8:
Doeminique Doeminique a biscuit*
Ooh cheechee wah wah
A biscuit.
How do you like your lover
Ah biscuit.
He's so fine.
Oh a biscuit.
Just like cherry wine.
Oh a biscuit.
How do you know it isn't so.
Ice cream (ice cream)
Soda pop (soda pop)
Ginger-ale (ginger-ale)
Seven up (seven up)
Now it's time to do your thing,
Now freeze.
-"Slice The Ice", p. 32

*Also, see other similar phrases in this example.

Source Rhyme #9:
Down Down Baby, down by the roller coaster
Sweet Sweet Baby, my heart's in love
Ooh, che-chihuahua
I solemnly love her
She is so sweet
Like a cherry treat
Touche Turtle, pull down your girdle
Ruth Archer; Down Down Baby-Race in Kid's Rhymes (Clapping rhyme, Atlantic City NJ, late 70's); posted on 4/10/2007

Editor: "Ruth Archer" is a White woman I "met" online who happens to be from my hometown (I've never met her in person).

*Also, see other similar phrases in this example.

Source Rhyme #10:
Ronald McDonald had a biscuit *
Oooh, chee chee wah wah a biscuit
I had a boyfriend a biscuit
he was so fine a biscuit
like a cherry pie a biscuit
now watch me, now watch me, now watch me do my thing
I said a popcorn cherry pie
bang bang choo choo train
chally wally shake my body
tutti frutti shake my booty
uh i'm goin down uh into the ground
uh i'm comin up uh like hot stuff uh
she push me down uh into the ground
uh i'm comin up uh to kick your but
i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i thought you did karate!
-Tierney; (Handclap Rhymes page); 2/36/2009

*Also, see other similar phrases in this example.

Part 3 of this post provides additional examples of probable playground rhyme sources for the remaining lines of the movie Big's "Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop" rap.


Sesame Street: Handclapping Chants

Uploaded by SesameStreet on Mar 27, 2009

[Viewer comment- "this was 1986!]

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