Monday, April 26, 2021

"My Lula Gal" And "Bang Bang Lulu" - Information With Some Clean And Some Sanitized Examples)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series on Old Time music sources for the large family of "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" and Miss Lucy Had A Baby" children's playground rhymes.

This pancocojams post presents information about and examples of the Old Time song/ rhymes entitled "My Lula Gal". This pancocojams post also presents information about and a few examples of the dirty (explicit) rhymes and song entitled 
"Bang Bang Lulu". 

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

Thanks to the unknown composers of these rhymes and songs and thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.
Click for a
2013 pancocojams post entitled "Similarities & Differences Between "Bang Bang Lulu" & "Miss Lucy Had A Steamboat".

Also, click for the closely related pancocojams post entitled 
"My Lula Gal" And "Bang Bang Lulu" - Information With Some Clean And Some Sanitized Examples)

" "Bang Bang Lulu" is a traditional American song with many variations. It derives from older songs most commonly known as "Bang Bang Rosie" in Ireland, "Bang Away Lulu" in Appalachia,[1] and "My Lula Gal" in the West.[2][6] The form "Bang Bang Lulu" became widespread in the United States from its use as a cadence during the World Wars. The song uses the tune of "Goodnight, Ladies".

Traditional song

All versions concern a woman and her various lovers. The early forms were sometimes very directly crude, violent, or infanticidal.[7] Published versions probably drastically understate the song's popularity,[1] particularly since the first mentions allude to 78[8] or 900[9] additional verses unfit for printing. Robert Gordon, the first head of the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Song, included his variants of Lulu among the "Inferno" section which was excluded from the library's general collection for its "bawdy and scatological subject matter".[10]

One verse appeared in Owen Wister's 1902 novel on p. 96 The Virginian:[8]
"If you go to monkey with my Looloo girl,
I'll tell you what I'll do:
I'll carve out your heart with my razor, AND
I'll shoot you with my pistol, too—

Nine appeared in Carl Sandburg's 1927 American Songbag among its "Railroad and Work Gangs" songs, including Wister's and:[9]

My Lulu hugged and kissed me,
She wrung my hand and cried,
She said I was the sweetest thing
That ever lived or died.[11]

My Lulu's tall and slender,
My Lulu gal's tall and slim;
But the only thing that satisfies her
Is a good big drink of gin.

My Lulu gal's a daisy,
She wears a big white hat;
I bet your life when I'm in town
The dudes all hit the flat.

I ain't goin' to work on the railroad,
I ain't goin' to lie in jail,
But I'm goin' down to Cheyenne town
To live with my Lulu gal.

My Lulu, she's an angel,
Only she aint got no wings.
I guess I'll get her a wedding ring,
When the grass gets green next spring.

My Lulu, she's a dandy,
She stands and drinks like a man,
She calls for gin and brandy,
And she doesn't give a damn.

Engineer blowed the whistle,
Fireman rang the bell,
Lulu, in a pink kimona
Says, "Baby, oh fare you well."

I seen my Lulu in the springtime,
I seen her in the fall;
She wrote me a letter in the winter time,
Says, "Good-bye, honey," that's all.

Sandburg credited many of the verses he knew as derived from the 17th-century Scotch song "Way Up on Clinch Mountain",[12] now usually known as "Rye Whiskey".

Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseans recorded "When Lulu's Gone" under the pseudonym of the Bang Boys in 1936.[13] Another version—"Lulu"—was recorded by Oscar Brand on his 1958 Old Time Bawdy Sea Shanties. Verses from this song also developed into "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms", recorded by Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs and many others after them.[2]

Military cadences

Most military cadences suggested explicit rhymes but skipped back to the chorus rather than complete them:


...Lulu has two boyfriends
Both of them are rich
One's the son of a banker
The others a son of a

Bang bang Lulu
Lulu's gone away
Who's gonna bang bang Lulu
while Lulu's gone away?

...Lulu has a bicycle(whoa)
the seat's on back to front
Every time she sits on it
It goes right up her

Bang bang Lulu
Lulu's gone away
Who's gonna bang bang Lulu
while Lulu's gone away?



A Calypso version of the military cadences was recorded by The Merrymen on their 1967 album Sing And Swing With The Merrymen. From there, the song was recorded by early Ska musicians like Lloyd Charmers in the 1970s and then later covered by various pop artists including Goombay Dance Band and Boney M.


Boney M. version

"Bang Bang Lulu" was a 1986 single by the German band Boney M. It was taken from their final album, the 1985 Eye Dance. The single failed to chart, and the group—having disbanded after their 10th anniversary—didn't promote it. It was originally intended for Liz Mitchell to sing, but she found the lyrics vulgar and refused to do it. Instead, Reggie Tsiboe did the lead vocals, backed by session singers Amy and Elaine Goff.


References/ citations


Talley, Thomas. Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise and Otherwise, p. 131. Macmillan Co. (New York), 1922. Accessed 13 Jan 2014.


Other titles include "Bang Bang";[3] "When Lulu's Gone"; "Bang Away, My Lulu"; "She Is a Lulu";[4] "She hugged me and kissed me";[5] or versions with the name replaced by Lu Lu, Rosie, Suzie, Lula, & al.[4]”…



Written by traditional



Title  - Performer - Release date - Info

When Lulu's Gone - Bang Boys - January 1937     

Lulu - Oscar Brand - 1958      

Bang Bang Lulu  - The New Lost City Bang Boys - 1963      

Lulu -  Little Sparrow - 1965      

Bang Bang Lulu  -The Merrymen featuring Emile Starker- 1967      

Bang Bang Lulu - Lloyd Terrel - 1968      

Lulu Returns - Lloyd Terrel - 1968      

Bang Bang Lulu  - Lord Creator- 1970      

Bang Bang Lulu  - Lloydie and The Lowbites- 1970 [Editor's cover song pick]

Bang Bang Lulu  - Mighty Sparrow- 1970      

Bang Bang Lulu  - Ronnie and The Ramblers - 1972      

Bang Bang Lulu  - Byron Lee & The Dragonaires - 1973      

Bang Bang Lulu -  Jackie Brown [JA] -  1975      

Bang Bang Lulu  - Goombay Dance Band - May 1980            

Bang Bang Lulu  - Boney M.- 1985      

Bang Bang Lulu  - Jambo Africa-  2002  

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  1. Here's a verse from that clearly shows the playground rhym "Miss Lucy Had Baby"'s connection to "Bang Bang Lulu"

    "My Lulu had a baby
    She called him Sunny Jim
    She put him in the sh&t*-pot
    To see if he could swim."
    *This word is fully spelled out in this rhyme.

    Additional verses are found on that page.

    Here's information from that page about this collection:
    "Gordon 'Inferno' (1917-33)

    The Robert W. Gordon "Inferno" Collection
    in the Archive of Folk Song, Library of Congress

    The 'Inferno' collection consists of original correspondence and typescript copies of letters (~200 pages) that either Gordon or someone else separated out -- because of their bawdy and scatological subject matter -- from the materials he received and compiled as first head of the folklife department at the Library of Congress. Prefaced to the 'Inferno' collection is a 14 page index which lists informant, date, location and title of the texts."

    1. The standard beginning verse for "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" is
      "Miss Lucy had a baby.
      His name was Tiny Tim
      She put him in a bathtub
      To see if he could swim"...
      Here's an excerpt about this rhyme from
      ""Miss Lucy had a baby...", also known by various other names,[9] is an American schoolyard rhyme. Originally used as a jump-rope chant, it is now more often sung alone or as part of a clapping game. It has many variations, possibly originating from it, or from its predecessors.[10][11]

      The song is often combined or confused with the similar but cruder "Miss Susie had a steamboat", which uses the same tune and was also used as a jump-rope game.

      ...The song shares much of the same melody as the 1937 "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" used by Warner Bros. as the theme to their Looney Tunes cartoons.[12]

      ...The history of the Miss Susie similar rhyme has been studied, tracing it back to the 1950s, in Josepha Sherman's article published by the American Folklore Society.[13] However, several other books and articles show similar versions used as far back as the end of the 19th century.[14]

      "Miss Lucy" probably developed from verses of much older (and cruder) songs, although the opposite may also be true,[15] most commonly known as "Bang Bang Rosie" in Britain, "Bang Away Lulu" in Appalachia,[14] and "My Lula Gal" in the West.[4][16] These songs were sometimes political, usually openly crude, and occasionally infanticidal.

      In those songs, the baby, that was dropped in the chamber pot bathtub, was referencing an enormously popular mascot of Force cereal named Sunny Jim, introduced in the United States in 1902 and in Britain a few years later. Following his declining popularity, the baby is now usually encountered as Tiny Tim, once famous as a Depression-era comic strip and still well known as a character in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.[8] The verse was first recorded as a joke in the 1920s and as the modern children's song in New York in 1938.[4] Although the song derives from lyrics about an unwed whore, few children consider that Miss Lucy might be unmarried; instead, the concern of the song has shifted to the appearance of new siblings. The opening lines now often change to "My mother had a baby..." or "I had a little brother."...

  2. Here's an example of "Lulu Had A Steamboat" in which the chorus is sung in place of the curse word, the sexually explicit word, or the otherwise offensive word or reference.

    "The way I knew it in the 50s, was:
    Lulu had a steamboat; steamboat had a bell; Lulu went to heaven; steamboat went to

    Bang away on Lulu, bang away all day. Who you gonna bang on when Lulu's gone away?

    Lulu had a chicken; she also had a duck; She put them on the table to see if they would

    Bang away on Lulu, bang away all day. Who you gonna bang on when Lulu's gone away?

    Lulu spilled her orange juice, Lulu broke her glass; Then she slipped upon it and broke her little

    Bang away on Lulu, bang away all day. Who you gonna bang on when Lulu's gone away?

    Ask me no more questions; I'll tell you no more lies; Lulu got hit with a bucket of sh-t*, right between the eyes!"
    -Downeast Bob, 1 Oct 97, Naughty kids' greatest hits,
    However, notice that the word "sh&t" was still included in that example. Also, the word "bang" in these songs, rhymes, and chants means "have sex" or "have sex with".
    Instead of that strategy, in contemporary "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" children's rhymes an innocuous ("clean") word or reference is used in place of the "dirty" word or reference.