Alphabet Swoop

Here are the lyrics.

My dad recited an alphabet nonsense rhyme:

A B C D goldfish? (“Abie, see the goldfish?”)

L M N O  goldfish! (“Hell, `em ain’t no goldfish!”)

O S A R!  I C M P N! (“Oh yes they are! I see `em peein’!”)

C D B D IIIIs? (“See the beady eyes?”)

Naturally, there are variations on this theme.  I tried to track down the origin, but this seems to be traditional.

Well, I figured that my (not-)children’s album should have a song about the alphabet, and these sorts of lyrics are straight where my heart went. I also imagined that maybe some little little kids might not get the whole idea, but would still be delighted to yell “goldfish” in there a lot.  The silliness just followed from there, like ‘alphabet poop’, ‘nincomwhoop’, and so on.

Ali Kagu Lawan was the one who told me that the ‘W’ in the Nigerian version of the English alphabet is pronounced ‘wee’ (with the example being given of ‘BMW’ as ‘BM-weeee’), therefore — since I was already putting ‘zed’ in there along with ‘zee’ — I figured that ‘wee’ should go in as well, particularly because ‘double-u’ was seriously messing with the scansion, plus it sounds like ‘whee’.

The second version has an extended refrain around 1:45.

It should also be noted that my dad, who was born in 1928, used to go to the theater when they still had an organist leading some songs before the show, where his favorite tune (that he would love to belt out) was, “Hell, hell, the gang’s all here!” So these scandalous songs and so forth were avenues through which he was offering us freedom and solidarity… which I hereby extend to kids more generally.

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