Mudcat Café message #1362799 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76741   Message #1362799
Posted By: Azizi
22-Dec-04 - 01:30 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Children's rhymes in dance songs
Subject: ADD: Walkin the Dog (Rufus Thomas)
Just for the record, there are a lot of incorrect words to Rufus Thomas' 1963 hit song "Walkin The Dog" on song lyrics websites. These versions have words like "Baby's back, dressed in black"; "I asked the fellow for fifteen cents to see the fellow jump the fence", and "she got silver bells and cocktail shells". I think that some of these lyrics may be due to unfamiliarity with the "Miss Mary Mack" handclap rhyme...

For a while there I started to doubt my memory of the song. It got so bad that I hunted up and found a CD of Rufus Thomas singing "Walkin The Dog". I carefully listened to the song a couple of times and here is what I heard:


Mary Mack dressed in black.
Silver buttons all down her back.
How low, tipsy toe? [tip to toe?]
She broke a needle
and she can't sew.   

Walkin the dog
Justa walkin the dog
If you don't know how to do it,
I'll show you how to walk the dog [whistle sound and then spoken}*
Come'on now, Come on. Come on."            

Asked my momma for fifteen cents
t'see the elephant jump the fence.
He jumped so high, he touched the sky
never got back t'll the fourth of July.


Mary Mary, quite contrary
Tell me, how does your garden grow?
You got silver bells and you got cockle shells
An' pretty maids all in a row..


[approximation of lyrics]
Oh-oh, justajustajusta walkin [multiple repetition]
If you don't know how to do it
I'll show you how to walk the dog.

end of lyrics

The whistle and the words the "Come on now, Come on." are spoken by the singer to the dog that he is supposedly walking.

Both the first verse and the second verse come from the Mary Mack handclap rhyme, although most kids now say 50 cents instead of fifteen cents. Maybe this is a result of inflation, I don't know.

But one thing this experience of looking up the lyrics to "Walkin The Dog" has taught me is to be extremely cautious about accepting text versions of songs from Internet sources since all websites are not like Mudcat Cafe.