Saturday, September 7, 2013

"A Tisket A Tasket" (information, lyrics, and video)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about and examples of the nursery rhyme & the song "A Tisket A Tasket".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"A Tisket A Tasket is a nursery rhyme first recorded in America in the late nineteenth century.[1][2] It was used as the basis for a very successful and highly regarded 1938 recording by Ella Fitzgerald. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 13188.

The rhyme was first noted in the United States in 1879 [3] as a children's rhyming game. It was sung while children danced in a circle. One of the number ran on the outside of the circle and dropped a handkerchief. The nearest child would then pick it up and chase the dropper. If caught the dropper was either kissed, joined the circle, or had to tell the name of their sweetheart.[2] An early noted version had the lyrics:

A-tisket a-tasket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I dropped it,
I dropped it,
I dropped it,
And on the way I dropped it.
A little boy he picked it up
and put it in his pocket.[2]

In some variants, the second line is "I lost my yellow basket"."

(Ella Fitzgerald, in conjunction with Al Feldman, later known as Van Alexander)

A-tisket A-tasket
A brown and yellow basket
I send a letter to my mommy
On the way I dropped it

I dropped it
I dropped it
Yes on the way I dropped it
A little girlie picked it up
And put it in her pocket

She was atruckin on down the avenue
But not a single thing to do
She went peck peck pecking all around
When she spied it on the ground

She took it
She took it
My little yellow basket
And if she doesn't bring it back, I think that I will die

A-tisket A-tasket
I lost my yellow basket
And if that girl don't return it
I don't know what I'll do

Oh dear I wonder where my basket can be
(So do we, so do we, so do we, so do we, so do we)
Oh gee I wish that little girl I could see
(So do we, so do we, so do we, so do we, so do we)

Oh why was I so careless with that basket of mine?
That itty bitty basket was a joy of mine!

I lost my yellow basket
Won't someone help me find my basket
And make me happy again? again

(Was it green?) No, no, no, no
(Was it red?) No, no, no, no
(Was it blue?) No, no, no, no

Just a little yellow basket
A little yellow basket



Ella Fitzgerald A Tisket a Tasket - From Ride Em Cowboy

Arnold Beltran, Uploaded on Feb 23, 2009

Grammy Induced Song

ADDENDUM [Updated November 2, 2014]
That blogger gave no citation for that answer. The general opinion is that the word "tisket" and "tasket" were created to rhyme wit the word "basket".
"The words Tisket-Tasket, have no specific meaning, it is a word play made up to go with the rhyme. The song lyrics were part of a popular singing game for kids."

** "A tisket a tasket"
Exapno Mapcase, 06-10-2002 , 11:19 AM
"The OED online doesn't have an entry for either...

All the other cites I found indicated that the phrase originated in a nursery rhyme or folk song, but maybe the rhyme is taken from an earlier lost source.

Evidently, though, the words were made up for their sounds not their meaning."
OED = Oxford English Dictionary

The word "truckin" in the line "She was atruckin on down the avenue" can be broadly said to mean "she was moving on down the avenue". However, "truckin" refers to an actual social dance that was introduced in Harlem (New York) in 1927 if not earlier.
Click for a post about "truckin".
The word "peckin" in the line also refers to a Jazz (Jitterbug)dance movement that was popularized in 1937.

Click for a pancocojams post on "peckin".

Thanks to the unknown composer/s of the children's rhyme "A Tisket A Tasket". Thanks also to Ella Fitzgerald for her musical legacy and thanks to Al Feldman (Van Alexander) for jointly composing the Jazz song which is based on that rhyme. Thanks to all those quoted in this post as well as the publisher of this featured video.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. it is soooo bad like it wont even load uhh

    1. Hello, anonymous.

      I'm sorry that you had difficulty loading this video. It works for me. Hopefully, you've tried again and it worked for you that time.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. The music is heard also at the beginning of the grapes of wrath, as Henry Fonda walks down an empty road, the viewer only hears the very hard stepping of his shoes. The feeling of being lost, alone and not knowing where to continue, as the song, if I don't find my yellow basket I will die. Just as in the story, everyone was gone, trying to start a new unknown life, they all believe this is something that must be done, because everything has been taken away from them. In the tune, she wishes for a solution, how will she go on with her life without that one thing she believes she will die over and wishes she could find the girl who took it. We all know, she won't die without it, and she most probably won't find it, so like the many families of oaklohoma, they are all looking for another solution to live instead of confronting the problem, they run away worrying about everything they have lost.

    1. Anonymous, thanks for sharing that information about the 1940 American movie "Grapes of Wrath".

      Thanks for also sharing your modern day analogy, although I don't believe that it is totally applicable.