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Grandfather used to sing us this song. What is it?
August 16, 2014 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know this song that my grandfather used to sing to us when we were little?

He would sing this song to us often and I've always wondered what the origin of it was. Googling the lyrics hasn't turned up much so perhaps he just made it up (he was a performer and an old vaudeville guy). My mom has now clue where it came from.

Here are the lyrics (and I apologize in advance if any lines are racially offensive. I'm not really sure what the song is about but my brother swears it's offensive).

All a saint he wash 'em on the face he
Pig a long a pig tail hanging down his back
Mickey aka salamander
Mickey Mickey fight he
pulls his tail and his face turns black

Any ideas?
posted by gfrobe to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would wager that this is a "Pidgin English Sing-Song" fragment and you are remembering the words "fightee" and "face-ee." The allusion to the pigtail is a stereotype of Chinese men prevalent in Victorian and Edwardian times. Check out this book on the subject.
posted by xenophile at 3:12 PM on August 16 [2 favorites]


Wow, that's sounds right xenophile! In fact, I think the beginning actually might have been "all a samee wash him on the facee". And looking at the vocabulary at the back of that book, lines like Mikey aka salamander might actually be closer to "Makie lika seliman, makie ?? Fai-tee" or something like that.

Thanks very much. Gives me a good starting point!
posted by gfrobe at 5:20 PM on August 16


my guess would be "Makee like a sailor man" just phonetically. It's amazing how awful some of these old songs can be--when I was a teenager we found some sheet music that had belonged to my very proper matron of a great-grandmother and it just made me cringe.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 6:48 PM on August 16


If you have a smartphone, download the Soundhound app. It will listen to you hum the song and try to identify it. That's how I was able to identify a song from my childhood my dad used to hum to put me to sleep.
posted by eatcake at 2:34 AM on August 17 [1 favorite]


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