Nursery Rhyme Dichotomy

What’s the moral of the story?

By Kevin RR Williams

HAPPENISM Some nursery rhymes are taught as memory aids. Even as adults, people often recite their ABCs with a little rhythm. However, some musical artists have employed nursery rhyme lyrics with no apparent beneficial purpose. Think about "The Clapping Song" lyrics by Shirley Ellis.

    3, 6, 9
    The goose drank wine.
    The monkey chew tobacco on the streetcar line.
    The line broke, the monkey got choked
    And they all went to heaven in a little rowboat.

Are these lyrics teaching a spiritual reward for inebriated driving, tobacco abuse and manslaughter rather than cancer and cirrhosis? Lyrics continue, borrowed from the 1930s song "Little Rubber Dolly":

    My Mother told me
    If I was goody
    That she would buy me
    A rubber dolly.
    My Auntie told her
    I'd kissed a soldier.
    Now she won't buy me
    A rubber dolly.

If the girl is old enough to be offered a rubber dolly, doesn't that imply that she is a minor having intimacy with an older soldier? Is this song promoting child abuse? Don't just listen to the beat, pay attention to the lyrics. "The Clapping Song" from 1965 is mild by today's standards. There are many other songs on the watch list for parents. Share your thoughts below and tweet #happenism.