A Prairie Home Companion Camp-Song Songbook

Set 8, June 30

Chopped Liver
(Sung to the tune of Moon River)

Chopped Liver, onions on the side
my social life has died, from me
my friends shun me, they out-run me,
the smell of my breath, is slow death, sad but true
My odors' twice as bad as beer,
and people who drink beer agree,
I know that my breath will not end,
always I'll offend, my halitosis friends
Chopped liver, in me.

Jim Goodhue, Bear, DE

I believe I originally picked up these lyrics in a Mad magazine back in the late 60s or early 70s.

Moon River. A beautifully sweet melody with an equally serene vista "wider than a mile." How can one improve on that? 'Cept with chopped liver. - MM


Since someone already submitted my favorite camp song (Granny's in the Cellar), here's one of the many songs we used to sing on our Boy Scout campouts.

My Bonnie Has Tuberculosis
(Sung to the tune: My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)

Verse 1
My Bonnie has tuberculosis
My Bonnie has only one lung
She coughs up a bloody solution
And rolls it around on her tongue

Chorus 1
Stay down, Stay down
Stay down my dinner, Stay down, Stay down
Stay down, Stay down
Stay down my dinner, Stay down

Verse 2
My Bonnie has tuberculosis
My Bonnie has only one lung
She coughs up a bloody solution
And dries it and chews it for gum.

Chorus 2
Dentyne, Dentyne
Buy some and try some today, Hey, Hey!
Dentyne, Dentyne
Buy some and try some today

I've many more where that came from. I suppose we sang TV theme songs (Gilligan's Island, etc.) about as much as we sang camp songs.

Jeff Chesnut, Newport News, Virginia

Another sweet meloncholic tune made better with phrases like "bloody solution" and "only one lung" Tuberculosis has such a melodic quality all its own when drawn out. - MM


I may have the verses in reverse order, but here is how I remember it (it was taught to me by my wondrous sister-in-law 45 years ago)

The horses run around, their feet are on the ground.
Oh! Who will wind the clock while I'm away?
Feed the Baby garlic, so we can find him in the dark.
Go get the ax, there's a hair on Baby's chin.
And they dug up Jimmy's grave to build a sewer!
While looking through the knot hole in Grampa's wooden leg,
I slipped and sprained my eyebrow on the pavement,
And I'm sure that Grampa's teeth will soon fit Junior.

I know that that is not exactly how the song goes, but, perhaps, these snippets will stir your brains to reconstruct it. Actually, I think I heard it on either your show, or Michael Feldman's years ago. It brought back many very happy memories. Hopefully broadcasting the correct version will make many other people remember happy times and long forgotten friends. Hope so.

anon.


Ground Round
(Sung to the tune Downtown by Petula Clark)

When you eat meat but hate the meat that you're eating
then you've surely got, GROUND ROUND
It's so unnerving when they're constantly serving
in an eating spot, GROUND ROUND
I may be called a chopped steak, a salisbury or beef patty
No matter what it's called it's always overcooked and fatty
What can you do?
Go up to your waiter there, and loudly pound on your table,
stand up on your chair, and shout:
GROUND ROUND, always you're serving me,
GROUND ROUND, always you're conning me,
GROUND ROUND, why must it always be,
GROUND ROUND, Ground Round, ground round...

Jim Goodhue, Bear, DE


Sung to the tune of Four Leaf Clover

I'm looking over my dead dog Rover
That I overran with the mower;
One leg is missing, the other is gone.
The third leg is scattered all over the lawn.
I'm not complaining,
But the one remaining
Is lying on the livin' room floor.
Oh, I'm looking over my dead dog Rover
That I overran with the mower.

I learned this from one of the leaders from our Youth Group camps. There is more to it, but this is the only verse that I can remember.

Terry Murdock, Miami, Fla.


Title Unknown
(Sung to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic)

I wear my pink pajamas in the summer when it's hot,
I wear my flannel nightie in the winter when it's not
And sometimes in the springtime and sometimes in the fall
I jump between my covers with nothing on at all.

(CHORUS:)
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Nosey, nosey, what's it to ya.
Sometimes in the springtimes and sometimes in the fall
I jump between my covers with nothing on at all.

I'm Emma Young, I live about 4 miles east of` Dixon Montana a town of about 200 people. I'm 13 years old and I learned this song at Loon Lake 4-H camp two years ago. Each person or group had to go up and sing something for the rest of the camp so that that person or group would get to eat and whoever sang first ate first and whoever sang last ate last.


This is a version of Froggy Went A'Courting. The verse is not unique, but the interpolations and chorus is a version I have heard only from my father. We used to sing it on long car trips.

Verse:
Froggy went acourtin' and he did ride.
Rink-tum-buddy-michicombo
Sword and buckler by his side
Rink-tum-buddy-michicombo

Chorus:
Kime-buh-near-oh down to Cairo, Kime-buh-near-oh Cairo
Straddaladda ladda bobba ladda bobba rinktum
Rink tum buddy michi combo.

Verse:
Rode up to Miss Mousie's door
Rink tum buddy michi combo
Been there many times before
Rinktum buddy michi combo

Chorus, etc.

We used to drive from Seattle to Wallowa, OR to visit my grandparents, often for Thanksgiving or Christmas. This meant crossing two mountain passes (Snoqualmie and one in the Wallowas whose name escapes me, but my dad will remember) and going down the Minam grade. I remember traveling at night, into the snowstorm, the snow coming at us in the dark (like something at warp speed in Star Trek, only Star Trek and warp speed hadn't been invented at that time.) The comfort of sitting on my mother's lap, the sight of my father's face lit by the dash lights as he drove calmly through the long night on treacherous roads -- to this day, when I drive at night, I feel empowered and strong, and I know I am being my father, secure in the love of my mother, driving safely to Wallowa and family.

anon.

I would suggest you not sing this song while you drive through the Snoqualmie Pass, but perhaps consider one with more of a spiritual bent... - MM


This is a good one to keep in mind while driving the Snoqualmie Pass in a snowstorm. - MM

Prodigal Son
(To be sung in a three part round)

I Shall arise and go unto my father,
and shall say unto him
"Father I have sinned against
heaven and before thee,
and am no worthy to be called thy son.

This song is a tradition at Camp Christian, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) camp in Ohio. I wish I could somehow get you the tune, because when sung in a three part round, the harmonies are absolutely beautiful.

M. Bray, Clyde, Ohio


Here is an obscure camp song from my days as a boy scout in southern Minnesota. I hesitate to send it on for fear that it may not remain obscure for long. Although, once the lyrics are sung and the tune is heard, I think I may have little to worry about. As far as I can recall, there is no familiar tune to which this can be sung. But, it is in iambic quadrameter so place the accents on horse, -round, feet and ground.

The Horse Went Around With its Feet on the Ground
(Sung with all the gusto 150 scouts could muster)

The tune I remember this sung to is Turkey in the Straw - MM

Oh, the horse went around with its feet on the ground,
The horse went around with its feet on the ground.
Well, the horse went around with its feet on the ground,
Oh, the horse went around with its feet on the ground.

(Spoken...or shouted if you are a boy scout)
Next verse, same as the first...

Oh, the horse went around with its feet on the ground...

Continue until the adult leaders are showing signs of weariness and exasperation. As a young scout in the mid 60s, I attended Cedar Point, a BSA camp in south western Minnesota near Fairmont. After dinner in the large log mess hall, we would enjoy a song fest pitting each troop against the others. The object was to make the upper windows rattle with our loud but mainly tuneless voices. We would go on for about two hours, led by the counselors, until our voices were hoarse and began to screech. As we sang through the week, however, our strength would grow toward the last evening around the campfire where we sang our best and loudest. My last year at the camp, in 1965, we were visited about half way through the songfest by some good-hearted folks from a lodge adjoining us on the lake. It seems our rambunctious singing was carrying clearly and without diminishment across the small lake to where the guests were trying to enjoy an evening of quiet meditation. To our surprise, they joined us in our celebration and added their voices to ours for that last starry evening of song.

Bob Fuerstenberg, Seattle, Washington


This was a "cousin" song but there was thirty six first cousins who spent summers at our grandparents farm so I guess it could qualify as a camp. I can't describe the tune. Lyrics as follows:

Take a leg from some old table
Take a arm from some old chair
Take a neck from some old bottle
And from a horse you take some hair (repeat YOU TAKE SOME HAIR)

Then you put them all together
With the aid of string and glue
You get a heap more lovin from that old dummy
Than I ever got from you.
GET OUT AND WALK!!!

Jodie Chapman


The Old Family Toothbrush
(Tune of The Old Oaken Bucket)

The old family toothbrush
The old family toothbrush
The old family toothbrush
That hung by the sink.

First it was father's,
Then it was mother's,
Now it is sister's,
And soon 'twill be mine!

Father abused it,
Mother misused it,
Sister refused it,
And now it is mine!

First it was yellow,
Then it was purple,
Now it is green
And all covered with slime (gagging as sung and dying out)...

Paul Godshall, Durham, NC


I teach elementary music, and after many years of teaching this favorite camp song to my K-8 grade students from memory, I found a melody and similar lyrics in an old American Folk Song book. I learned this song at Camp Metigoshe, a Lutheran camp near Bottineau, North Dakota, where I spent several years as a camper and staff member!

The verses are easy to learn, because the words are pretty much the same for each verse, except for each new possession. It is called an Add-On song, because after naming each new possession, all the possessions are named backwards until arriving back at the first verse! Kids like to do actions for each one.

When I first came to this land,
I was not a wealthy man.
So I got myself a farm,
And I did what I could.
And I called my farm, "the Muscle-in-My-Arm." (Hold up arm and flex muscle!)
And the land was sweet and good,
And I did what I could.

When I first came to this land,
I was not a wealthy man.
So I got myself a shack,
And I did what I could.
And I called my shack the "Break-a-My-Back", (bend forward slightly and touch back like it really hurts!)
and I called my farm the Muscle-in-My-Arm".
And the land was sweet and good,
And I did what I could.

When I first came to this land,
I was not a wealthy man.
So I got myself a horse,
And I did what I could.
And I called my horse, "Trigger-of-course"! ( pretend to ride)
And I called my shack, the"Break-a-My-Back"
And I called my farm, the "Muscle-in-My-Arm".
And the land was sweet and good,
And I did what I could.

So I got myself a cow.....
And I called my cow, "No-Milk-Now" !(shake head while hands pretending to milk the cow!)

So I got myself a sheep....
And I called my sheep,"Little Bo Peep! (use hand to primp hair and say it in a high, sweet voice!)

.So I got myself a wife...
And I called my wife,"Run-for-Your-LIfe"! (pretend to run!)

So I got myself a son.....
And I called my son, "My-Work's-Done"! (fold arms across chest!)

Sarah (Nelson) Worsech, Colome, South Dakota


From Alpine Wyoming 4-H Camp. Early 60's.

Never Hit Your Grandma with a Shovel

Never hit your Grandma with a shovel.
It makes a bad impression on her mind
In a better way impart
All the love that's in your heart
It is possible she may retort in kind
Remember Grandmas loved you since a baby
And even though in fun t'would prove a shock
So respect her aged head
Stay the shovel and instead
Hit your sweet old, dear old, Grandma with a rock.

Nancy Nadolski, Boise, Idaho.


When I used to teach elementary school music, our 4th graders would take a three day, two night field trip to the Rock Eagle 4-H Camp in Eatonton, GA (Birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris- the creator of Uncle Remus). Among the activities the students participated in were the Rock Eagle Hike (quite a hike, indeed!), and pond ecology (where they got their buckets/nets, kicked off their socks/shoes and dug through pond sludge/scum to see what organisms they could find. The kids themselves made up this song prior to the trip to be sung around the campfire. Coach Tucker was the PE teacher. Here are the lyrics, to be sung to the tune of I've Been Working On The Railroad:

We've Been Thinkin' 'bout Rock Eagle

We've been thinkin' 'bout Rock Eagle,
all the livelong day,
We've been thinkin' 'bout Rock Eagle,
just to pass the time away.
Tucker's whistle is a blowin',
rise up so early in the morn',
Mr. Bunn is a' shouting,
"CAMPERS, LET'S GET GOIN'!"

Don't you wanna go, Don't you wanna go
on the Rock Eagle Hike?
"Yes, I wanna go, Yes I wanna go,
but I'd rather use my bike..."

Somebody's diggin' in the pond,
Somebody's diggin' in the pond we know....
Somebody's diggin' in the pond,
squishy mud between their toes.

Alan Bunn, Oxford, GA


I learned many songs at White Earth Lutheran Camp, near White Earth, Minnesota during my camping years. I attended this camp each summer, from ages 9-17 and loved every experience. The camp spread out on the shores of the clear water and sandy bottomed White Earth lake. The boat house, sailboats, canoes on one pennisula and the swimming beach on an inlet on another shoreline. I do not know who taught me the song, but one year I sang a solo of it during mail time. It maybe known as the Billboard Song, and I am not sure how to describe the tune. The version I learned goes like this:

As I was walking down the street, one dark and windy day.
I came upon a billboard, and much to my dismay.
The sign was torn and tattered from the rain the night before,
The wind and rain had done its job, for this is what I saw.

Smoke coca-cola cigarettes, chew Wrigley's spearmint beer.
Kanal-tion dog food keeps your wife's complexion clear.
Simonize your baby with a Hershey's candy bar
And Texaco's the beauty cream, that's used by all the Stars.

Take your next vacation in brand new Frigidare
Learn to play the piano in your grandmother's underware
Doctors say that babies should smoke till they are three,
And people over 65 should bath in Lipton tea.

Marilyn M. Leister, Minneapolis, MN


Unfortunately, this song was not sung to the tune of any song with which I am familiar. However, it was our theme song at Lutheran Kids Camp in the far northern reaches of the State of Washington.

Good ole Marty Luther, Good ole Marty Luther.
He really made the Reformation grand.
With his 5 and 90 theses, he tore the book to pieces.
That's why I'm glad that I'm a Luth-er-an.
Luth-er-an, Luth-er-an...That's why I'm glad that I'm a Lutheran!!!

Christie Marsh, Amherst, Massachusetts


It's going to be a long summer, and what will the birdies do then, the poor things?
They'll fly to the pool to keep themselves cool, and tuck their head under their wing the poor things

It's going to be a long fall, and what will the birdies do then, the poor things?
They'll . . . I can't remember this one
Contributed by MPR staff:

They'll fly to the barn, just to keep themselves warm...

It's going to be a long winter, and what will the birdies do then, the poor things?
They'll fly to the south, with a worm in their mouth, and tuck their head under their wing, the poor things.

It's going to be a long spring, and what will the birdies do then, the poor things?
They'll fly in the sky, to keep themselves dry, and tuck their head under their wing, the poor things.

Mr. and Mrs. H. James Erickson


One dark night when we were all in bed
Mrs. O'Leary left the lantern in the shed
And when the cow kicked it over she winked her eye and said
"It'll be a hot time in the old town tonight."
(stand up) FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

Sung in a round.

anon.


Just in case I have the yearnin', I carry with me inside my Fil-O-Fax at my work at the National Academy of Sciences a list of camp songs. Learned at Jackson's Mill, the State 4-H Camp of West Virginia, this one was carried back to Camp Echo in Grant County, West Virginia. As with so many things, simple is best:

Johnny Appleseed, a grace --

Well, the Lord's been good to me,
And so I thank the Lord!
For giv-ing meeeeee
The things I neeeeeed,
The sun, and the rain,
And the apple-seed,
The Lord's been goooood to me.
Hal-le-lu-jah,
Ah - men!

Clara Shockley


Refrain:
Agdalena, Magdalena, Hootentimer, Potentimer
Hogan, Logan, Pogan was her name.

She had long hair down her back
the ends were yellow and the roots were black.

Refrain

She had two eyes in her head
one was yellow and the other was red.

Refrain

She had two teeth in her mouth
one pointed north and the other pointed south.

Refrain

and

Sung as a round:
Kookelbara sits by the old gum tree
Eatin all the gumdrops he can see
Laugh Kookelbara, laugh Kookelbara
Please save some for me.

anon.


Set 1 - Set 2 - Set 3 - Set 4 - Set 5 - Set 6 - Set 7 - Set 8 - Set 9 - Set 10

Camp-Song Songbook

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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