Mudcat Café message #1897372 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #94034   Message #1897372
Posted By: Azizi
01-Dec-06 - 08:22 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
Subject: RE: Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
Guest, here's another version of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" that mentions R&B singer Michael Jackson:

Down by the river near the hankey pank where the bullfrogs jump from bank, to bank, and they say E I O U, your momma stinks and so do you so ping pong ding dong your daddy smells like king kong. Ask your teacher what she wears, polka dotted underwear. Not too big and not too small, just the size of city hall. Michael Jackson went to town, coca-cola brought him down. Coca-cola brought him up, now he's drinking 7up. 7up with no cafiene, now he's seein' belgain (pronounced beligene). Belgain is outta sight, now we're talking dynamite. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BAM!
-Veggie; 8/21/2006 *


The lines starting with "I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag" immortalize an incident that occurred on Jan 27, 1984 during R&B superstar's Michael Jackson's taping of a Pepsi-Cola commercial. Twenty five year old Michael Jackson was singing his hit song "Billy Jean" when sparks from the fireworks that were supposed to be shown in the background of the commercial accidentally set Jackson's greasy 'jheri curled' hair on fire.

As the line "coca-cola brought him down" demonstrates, the rhyme isn't concerned about the distinction between the brand names "Coca Cola" and "Pepsi Cola". Of course, "7-Up" is also a brand name for a popular brand of carbonated soda pop and "Pizza Hut" is the name of a popular chain of pizza stores.

The word "belgian" ["prononced beligene"]is folk etymology for "Billy Jean". "Billy Jean" is the name of the song that Michael Jackson was singing during that infamous commercial taping.


Some general thoughts:

"Hanky Panky" and other children's rhymes are part of the oral tradition. Many if not most children have probably not seen these rhymes in written form. The format used to write these rhymes may not be all that important. But I think it's interesting to notice that many children & youth who have sent in rhymes to my website write those rhymes using an essay format rather than a poetry format. This format also appears to be preferred by a number of children & youth who have posted rhymes on

Although it is written in an essay style, the "Hanky Panky" version that was sent in by Veggie includes capitol letters at the beginning of sentences and/or lines, a period or a comma at the end of sentences/lines. However, a number of rhymes written as in the essay format don't include punctuation marks or capital letters. And some examples have every word written in capital letters.

I'm not sure why this essay style is used rather than the standard poetic format. Perhaps it's because this population is more familiar with prose than poetry. Perhaps it's {also?} because it's quicker to write using an essay format than a poetic format, and children & youth have grown up valuing speed & quickness in communication more than adults. I bet this same population group takes short cuts in writing cell phone text messages, too.

Maybe none of this has anything to do with what seems to be the preferred writing style that this populations uses. If you've noticed this and can think of other reasons why this format appears to be preferred I'd be interested in 'hearing' them.

Unfortunately, when this essay format is used without punctuation and capitalizations it's often difficult to tell where one line is supposed to end and another begins. Often people using this 'run on sentence, no punctuation, and little or no capitalization' style have sent in what appear to be multiple examples of rhymes in one email message. In those cases, based on a number of factors, I've attempted to separate out the specific rhymes. Other than that, I've kept the rhymes as they are-including the typos and the misspelled words, but that's almost a whole 'nother story because these typos and misspelled words are sometimes purposeful.

The essay format-particularly the run on sentence, no punctuation, and no capitalization style- may confuse readers. But this format is authentic and has its own flavor which I recognize and admire. For those reasons, I don't put on my grammar school teacher hat and attempt to 'correct' these examples [not that I ever was a grammar teacher, and particularly since I have my own grammar style which also is a whole nother story]...

But I'd sure love it if Veggie's style of essay writing-with punctuations and capital letters at the beginning of lines or sentences-became the vogue. That would be nice, but it's not something I promote. I'm just glad children, youth, and adults are interested enough to share the rhymes they know with me so I can attempt to preserve them and share them with others.