Tuesday, 15 April 2014

My Top Ten Nursery Rhyme Songs

The music I hear more often than anything else at the moment is nursery rhymes. Sam is particularly fond of The Grand Old Duke of York (popular gay icon - after all, he had 10,000 men), The Muffin Man (do you know him?) and Pop! Goes The Weasel (as close as Sam gets to pop music right now). Because my head is full of little else - I even wake up in the night with them drilling their way into my dreams - here are ten songs inspired to some degree or other by traditional nursery rhymes of yore...

(Special mention, for those of you who remember the 80s, to Cock Robin... who sound better than I remembered, despite their unfortunate name.)

10. Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart - Muffin Man

Enough to give Sam nightmares till his 18th birthday: I don't think I'll be playing him this in a hurry.

And if you think that was scary...

9. Green Jelly - Three Little Pigs

Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin.

(Spoiler: in this version, The Big Bad Wolf gets killed by Rambo-Morph. I shit you not.)

8. Raydio - Jack 'n' Jill

And this is why I thank the pop music gods I was born when I was. Because, yes, today's teenagers may pride themselves on their love of the "classics" from the 60s, 70s or 80s... but how many of them will ever even hear this choice cut from Ray Parker Jr.'s original band? You could trawl youtube for decades and never stumble across this gem: cheesy 70s soul at its finest.

7. The Offspring - Come Out And Play (Keep 'Em Separated)

OK, so the old English nursery rhyme "Boys and girls come out to play" probably wasn't much of an influence on The Offspring. Sue me; I wanted to hear this again.

6. Terry, Blair & Anouchka - Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes

Stretching the theme a little, though this is the only song I can think of to mention Nursery Rhymes in the title. One of Terry Hall's less successful recording ensembles, yet just as wonderful as anything else he's ever lent his vocal talents to. Ha, happier times, ba, ba, better days.

5. Tom Waits - Little Boy Blue

What happens when nursery rhymes grow up and become chain-smoking, whiskey-guzzling lounge singers? The answer is for adults only.

4. Aimee Mann - Humpty Dumpty

Another of Sam's favourites... and I will wean him off the original and onto Queen Aimee's far superior reinterpretation.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put baby together again
See also The Humpty Dumpty Love Song by Travis. Because if I don't mention it, somebody else is bound to. (And still might.)

3. Run DMC - Peter Piper

I'd be prepared to hear an argument for this being at Number One, considering it not only involves the titular pepper-picker but also Jack 'n' Jill, Jack B. Nimble, Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs and many other childhood favourites. They even throw in a reference to Weebles: "the turntables might wobble, but they don't fall down".

2. The Shangri-Las - Past, Present & Future

I wasn't familiar with the nursery rhyme "A-tisket, A-tasket, A green and yellow basket" as a child. I only discovered it through the epic, melancholic melodrama of the Shangri-Las, a band with a truly unique sound. If you're only familiar with Leader of the Pack, give this a spin... I doubt you'll ever have heard anything walk the tightrope between aching beauty and high camp hysteria quite so bewitchingly.

1. The Bluetones - Solomon Bites The Worm

One of the Bluetones' best, wherein a mightily chunky guitar riff supports a playful retelling of the story of Solomon Grundy, bundled up with a joyful "grab life while you can" message because "you've only got 7 days". Which only goes to demonstrate that Mark Morris and chums were always a far more interesting Britpop prospect than the Blunder Brothers of Oasis. (BTW, Britpop is 20 years old this year. What does that make us?)

So, those were the nursery rhymes Sam can investigate when he's a little older... and I managed to avoid all mention of Mary Had A Little Lamb by Wings.You owe me for that.

But... which one bites your worm?


  1. Believe it or not in Killing Joke's The Great Cull they reference the nursery rhyme Ring-a-ring of Roses with the line "all fall down".

    That's as good as your going to get from me.

    1. That'll do fine. Remind me again when I do my Top Ten Falling Down Songs... or just go all Michael Douglas / D-Fens on the world, which could happen any day now.

  2. Surely a mention here for The Musical Box by early-period Genesis, for it's lyrical inclusion of Old King Cole ...? Putting aside prog snobbery, it's also a damn fine song... and putting aside Collins snobbery, it also has some excellent drumming on too.

    1. Don't think that's on my Genesis Greatest Hits... or if it is, I haven't listened closely enough. Collins was a very good drummer.

    2. Hi Rol

      I have a few suggestions

      Gammorah (A Nursery Rhyme) - Rodriguez
      probably the weakest track on a brilliant album, but that's saying something because this is a great track.

      Just Like Me - The Hollies
      this features quite a few nursery rhymes

      Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham

      Stranger than Fiction - James Reyne, but I cant find it on youtube and I am tipping you won't know James Reyne

  3. It's half man half biscuit again: 99% of. Gargoyles look like bob Todd. Mary had a little lamb the doctors were astounded!

  4. It's new look for me. I'm Thai.
    I think nursery rhymes only like in this web >>> The nursery rhyme songs

    I like 1st very much.


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