BackgroundThis one is written by a pop singer called Don Ho and it is one of the cheesiest songs on the planet. But it is a great beginner’s worksong because it is easy to follow, easy to lead, and it is so ridiculous that it makes people smile.
Where I learned it In the stands of the Middlebury College Hockey Rink. It was a fight song. Strangest fight song you’ll ever hear, but there it was. I only learned that it was sung by Don Ho the other day when I taught it during a worksong session at Sylvester Manor. There are some terrible videos online, please spend your time on something more worthwhile- Don Ho actually sang this on stage with a bubble machine. It’s dreadful, really.
ALL THAT SAID, I do love being out in the field and ripping into this song- the cheese factor’s not going to stop me. It forces you to erupt into some kind of joyful noise, and it makes people chuckle when things are getting too serious, and sometimes that’s the most important thing.
Why it’s a great song: - It’s so easy, even a caveman can do it. - Each line is short. - The notes of the melody move stepwise up and down the scale. - To respond you just sing exactly what the leader sang, and that’s never more than two or three words. And the theme is easy- think of things that have (or don’t have) bubbles in them.
There are so few lyrics in the original song that it enforces inventiveness! It’s a great song for practicing the art of making up lyrics on the fly. When people hear this song they catch on quickly, and they end up thinking: hey, maybe I can be a worksonger... So it builds people’s confidence, it’s fun, and it adds a touch of the ridiculous to your day.
If you try it: - hold out the Tiiiiiiiny. It’s just more fun, and you can practice taking a huge breath and singing out. - there are actually more non-alcoholic bubbly drinks out there than you think - the Hawaiian shirt is optional.
Check it out: Here is a link to the song on worksongs.org - This includes: - A recording from the workshop I taught last weekend - Starter lyrics - No links to the regrettable Don Ho version. If you want to see that you have hunt for it yourself.
That’s about it. As far as I know there are no discussions about the provenance of this song on ethnomusicological websites, no recordings in the Library of Congress, and no earnest books unpacking the cultural significance of the song and its iterations. So relax, have fun, and cut loose.
Holler back with any questions or ideas! And let me know if you decide to sing it... -Bennett