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The Irish Ballad (Rickety Tickety Tin)

[Tom Lehrer]

Tom Lehrer sang his own The Irish Ballad in 1953 on his album Songs by Tom Lehrer. He commented in the sleeve notes:

The folk song has in recent years become the particular from of permissible idiocy of the intellectual fringe. Here, for these elite, is an ancient Irish ballad; it is complete with modal tune, simple story line, and inane refrain, but it differs from other ancient ballads in that it was written in 1950.

Jon Boden learned the song with the alternate Rickety Tickety Tin at the Forest School Camps and sang it as the September 17, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the blog:

This is a great favourite around the campfire, particularly with the younger children for some reason.

Lyrics

About a maid I'll sing a song
Sing rickety tickety tin
About a maid I'll sing a song
Who didn't have her family long
Not only did she do them wrong
She did every one of them in, them in
She did every one of them in.

One morning in a fit of pique
Sing rickety tickety tin
One morning in a fit of pique
She drowned her father in the creek
The water tasted bad for a week
And we had to make do with gin, with gin
We had to make do with gin

Her mother she could never stand
Sing rickety tickety tin
Her mother she could never stand
And so a cyanide soup she planned
The mother died with the spoon in her hand
And her face in a hideous grin, a grin
He face in a hideous grin.

She weighted her brother down with stones
Sing rickety tickety tin
She weighted her brother down with stones
And sent him off to Davey Jones
All they ever found were some bones
And occasional pieces of skin, of skin
Occasional pieces of skin.

She set her sister's hair on fire
Sing rickety tickety tin
She set her sister's hair on fire
And as the smoke and flame rose higher
Danced around the funeral pyre
Playing a violin, -olin
Playing a violin.

One day she had nothing to do
Sing rickety tickety tin
One day she had nothing to do
She cut her baby brother in two
And served him up as an Irish stew
And invited the neighbours in, -bours in
Invited the neighbours in.

And when at last the police came by
Sing rickety tickety tin
And when at last the police came by
Her little pranks she did not deny
To do so she would have had to lie
And lying she knew was a sin, a sin
And lying she knew was a sin.

And just one thing before I go
Sing rickety tickety tin
And just one thing before I go
There's something I think that you ought to know
They had no proof, so they let her go
And they say that she's tall and thin, and thin
They say that she's tall and thin.

My tragic tale I won't prolong
Sing rickety tickety tin
My tragic tale I won't prolong
I hope you lile my little song
You've yourself to blame if it's too long
You should never have let me begin, begin
You should never have let me begin.