Fath?r and I went down to camp
Along with Captain Goodin?,
And there we saw the men and boys,
As thick as hasty puddin?.
Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle Dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.
And there we saw a thousand men,
As rich as Squire David;
And what they wasted ev?ry day,
I wish it could be saved.
And there was Captain Washington
Upon a slapping stallion,
A-giving orders to his men;
I guess there was a million.
And then the feathers on his hat,
They looked so ?tarnal fine, ah!
I wanted peskily to get
To give to my Jemima.
And there I saw a little keg,
Its heads were made of leather,
They knocked upon?t with little sticks,
To call the folks together.
And there they?d fife away like fun,
And play on cornstalk fiddles,
And some had ribbons red as blood,
All bound about their middles.
The troopers, too, would gallop up
And fire right in our faces;
It scared me almost half to death
To see them run such races.
Uncle Sam came there to change
Some pancakes and some onions,
For ?lasses cake to carry home
To give his wife and young ones.
But I can?t tell half I see,
They kept up such a smother;
So I took my hat off, made a bow,
And scampered home to mother.
Agay, Denes, Best Loved Songs of the American People
, 1975, Doubleday
Agay includes another popular version:
Oh, Yankee Doodle went to town,
A riding on a pony
He stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni.
Yankee Doodle, doodle doo,
Yankee Doodle Dandy,
All the lads and lassies are
As sweet as sugar candy.
?A unique place among the tunes of the Revolutionary days is assured for Yankee Doodle, the first all-American hit song; it has survived for over two hundred years. The origin of both words and music is still somewhat of a conjecture; it became known around 1755 and gained quick popularity, not only in its original form but also through countless variants and parodies. It can be said that the American Revolution began and ended to the strains of Yankee Doodle. The British Redcoats marched to Lexington in 1775 singing the sprightly, satirical stanzas to taunt the Yankees. The Colonials adopted the tune very quickly, and when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, it was a lusty Yankee rendition of the song that provided the musical background. The tune is imperishable, probably because, as one of its innumerable verses states:
It suits for feasts, it suits for fun,
And just as well for fighting.?
?This infectiously merry tune, which was so important during the Revolutionary War, is of undetermined origin. Some think that a British Army surgeon, stationed in Albany, composed it to poke fun at the Yankee troops. Others believe that it is a New World version of the old English nursery rhyme 'Lucy Locket'; at least a half dozen other European countries are also claimants. In all probability, it is a native American song, written in the 1750s, which became known quickly in many versions and countless parodies. It is the embodiment of the ?Spirit of ?76? and has enjoyed continuous popularity for two centuries.?
The background of this song and its tune is fraught with claim, counter-claim and myth; and it is not easy to discern fact from fiction. There is a long summary at The Fiddler's Companion
:Yankee Doodle Dandy
Broadside editions from the USA and UK can be seen at Ã?Â Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads
There are also broadside sequels to the song, and a good few set to its tune.
Additional references are given below:
Oscar Sonneck, Report on "The Star-Spangled Banner," "Hail Columbia," "America," "Yankee Doodle"
(Library of Congress, 1909; reprinted Dover Publications, 1972, esp. pp. 79-156)
James J. Fuld, The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular and Folk
, 5th ed. (Dover, 2000, pp. 659-660, 696-697)
Iona and Peter Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes
, new ed. (Oxford UP, 1997, pp. 528-532)
Stuart Murray, America's Song: The Story of 'Yankee Doodle'
(Images from the Past, 1999)
(Search Roud index at VWML)