The "Limerick" is a traditional humorous drinking song with many obscene verses. The tune usually used for sung limericks is traditionally "Cielito Lindo," with the words arranged in the form of a limerick.
- The Limerick Song has been commercially recorded many times. The earliest version of limericks being sung is 1905 under the title Fol-The-Rol-Lol as sung by Edward M. Favor on Edison records. The earliest date for limericks being sung to the "Gay Caballero" tune is May 11, 1931 on the recording titled Rhymes sung by Jack Hylton which was issued on Decca records.
The earliest printed date for limericks being sung is 1928 in the book A Collection of Sea Songs and Ditties from the Stores of Tom E. Jones. Since many of the verses used for this song are bawdy the song tended to get issued in rare, underground mimeographed songbooks. Some of these are (in chronological order):
- 1934. Leech.
There are several different choruses for this song. One of the most popular in the USA is sung to the tune of "Cielito Lindo" and usually goes like this:
- In China, they do it for chili
- So let's get a verse that's worse than the other verse
- And waltz me around by my willie.
Another chorus, to an unknown tune, is also not uncommon in the UK:
A less commonly reported chorus goes:
In the children's rendition of this song, the chorus goes:
- In China they never grow chili (chilly)
- So sing one more verse
- that's worse than the first
- Be sure that it's foolish and silly.
The lyrics for the Limerick Song are usually ribald and sometimes original. Here are some from the public domain book Sea Songs and Ditties:
There is a version of this song which is rendered for children. Three verses are as follows:
- A canner exceedingly canny
- One morning remarked to his granny
- A canner can can
- Anything that he can
- But a canner can't can a can, can he?
- A tutor who tooted the flute
- Tried to tutor two Tudors to toot
- Said the two to the tutor
- Is it tougher to toot, or
- To tutor two Tudors to toot?
(in order for line c to rhyme with line d, "to toot, or" is said quickly in order to sound like "to tutor")
- A flea and a fly in a flue,
- Were stuck there, so what could they do?
- Said the fly, "Let us flee!",
- Said the flea, "Let us fly!",
- So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
- Cray, Ed. The Erotic Muse: American Bawdy Songs (University of Illinois, 1992).
- "Jones, Dave E." A Collection of Sea Songs and Ditties from the Stores of Dave E. Jones. No publisher. No date (1928). Unpaginated.
- Legman, Gershon. The Limerick.
- Legman, Gershon. The Horn Book. (New York: University Press, 1964).
- Reuss, Richard A. An Annotated Field Collection of Songs From the American College Student Oral Tradition (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Masters Thesis, 1965).
- Jones. Unpaginated. Song #48.
- Cray, Ed. The Erotic Muse: American Bawdy Songs. pg. 217.