Being a father, listening to the nursery rhymes and children’s songs of my childhood is difficult. Not because I don’t enjoy the music, but I find it hard not to over-analyze the words – I mean, we’re supposed to be monitoring what our children are listening to, right? The other day, I was sampling some traditional children’s songs and I got hung up on one in particular… “Buckeye Jim.” Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics:
Way down yonder in a hollow log
A red bird danced with a green bullfrog.
Emphasis on “way down yonder”- why is “down” always supposed to be a “bad place” where the logs are hollow (i.e. an empty, desolate place wherein resides the old bullfrog that everyone long forgot about). Pay attention later… the birds can go down yonder to visit a bullfrog, but they also have the opportunity to go UP yonder (this is social mobility – they can hang out and dance with the lower class, but also rub wings with the social elite, those with great influence and wealth). Why is such an effort made to distinguish the color of the damn bullfrog? Are not all bullfrogs FUCKING GREEN?!?! The Northern Cardinal is one of many RED-colored birds that can be found in the eastern and central U.S. which leads into my next interpretation of the chorus:
Buckeye Jim, you can’t go
Go weave and spin, you can’t go
Who came up with the name “Buckeye Jim?” Was he from Ohio? Could they possibly be talking about Jim Bollman, the former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes football team? Did he know Cotton Eye Joe from Georgia? I don’t know WHO he is and I’m not sure if I want my child to know about him either. It’s all too sketchy, and I am mostly concerned WHY he can’t go? Did Jim do something bad? Is he being detained? Does he have a urinary problem? WHY can’t he go?!?!
We don’t know… what we DO know is that he is allowed to “weave and spin.” Now this sounds like slave labor – I guess that’s how he knew “Cotton Eye Joe,” but Jim was emancipated since Ohio was a free state. He must have worked on the Underground Railroad, which was a highly dangerous job. Now things are really starting to come together! Let’s continue:
Way up yonder above the moon
A jaybird nests in a silver spoon.
The jaybird obviously is from a rich, well-to-do family. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he was born in a silver spoon – there’s the rich, and then there’s the really fucking rich jaybirds. On a side note, the jaybird actually came into this world because its parents were a spoonin’ one night, you see, and well… (JAYBIRD DIALOGUE ONE ROMANTIC EVENING).
Mama jaybird: I’m cold. Hold me. Closer.
Daddy jaybird: I’m fucking tired.
Mama jaybird: We never cuddle anymore.
Daddy jaybird: (grunts)
Mama jaybird: Aren’t you gonna say something?
Daddy jaybird: Listen, I’m tired, enough with the talking and bullshit, are we going to fuck or what? ‘Cause if not, I got to get
up early tomorrow and I’m dog-ass tired.
Now, back to analyzing the lyrics…
‘Way up yonder on a shootin’ star,
a bullfrog jumped, but he jumped too far
When you see a shooting star, what do you do? You make a wish, right? The bullfrog tried to have his wish come true, you know, come up out of his working-class status, so he jumped, only he jumped “TOO far.” His oppressors would have nothing of it – they’d rather keep him on the unemployment benefits and sell his job off to India or Mexico while all the while becoming richer and richer and RICHER! And what about the bullfrog’s neighbor, the poor old woman?
Way down yonder in a wooden trough
An old woman died of the whoopin’ cough.
An old woman died of a whooping cough?!?! Isn’t that a disease that affects mostly infants and small children? Since the 40s, most infants are vaccinated before six months of age. So, the old woman MUST have been born before then, which explains why she is OLD, but it still doesn’t explain WHY she died of the whooping cough – just another way that the birds, or should I say “the man,” can keep her down. FUCKING BASTARDS!!
And it doesn’t stop there. Other children’s songs are programming us in similar ways… How about “Baa-Baa Blacksheep?” What I am talking about is the programming of stereotypes, teaching racism to our kids… Okay, it’s a BLACK sheep, we get it. But black sheep can find other ways to make a living; Slingin’ wool aint the only option.
Baa-baa blacksheep, have you any wool?
Translation: “Yo, dog, you gots any of dat fire shit?”
And they got the sheep all feeling bad about their status in life, having to address everyone as “sir” and “ma’am;” it’s fucking degrading:
Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full.
The motherfucker is all hunched over, repeating itself, as to not take another lash to the back… “Yes, masser, I got your wool right here. Right away, masser. As you say, masser.” Fuck me!! And they have to be all specific about just how many bags… Three bags full, three little pigs, three fucking bears! In the Torah, three is the number of truth and, for me, the truth is that these nursing rhymes are fucking bullshit, and I won’t have anything to do with perpetuating prejudicial, triad bullshit-brainwashing. Not me!