Yankee Doodle

June 5, 2007 at 1:53 pm 4 comments

Like so many, this traditional ditty started out as much more than just a children’s song. Here are the familiar words that we all know so well:

Yankee Doodle went to town
Riding on a pony
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni


Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be handy

But why in the world did “Yankee Doodle” stick a feather in his cap in the first place, and what’s all this about macaroni? According to the NIEHS Kids’ Sing-along Page:

Back in Pre-Revolutionary America when the song “Yankee Doodle” was first popular, the singer was not referring to the pasta “macaroni” in the line that reads “stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni”. “Macaroni” was a fancy (“dandy”) style of Italian dress widely imitated in England at the time. So by just sticking a feather in his cap and calling himself a “Macaroni” (a “dandy”), Yankee Doodle was proudly proclaiming himself to be a country bumpkin, because that was how the English regarded most colonials at that time.

There are a whole bunch of other verses describing the life of a Continental Army soldier back in the time of the American Revolution:

Father and I went down to camp
Along with Captain Gooding
There we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding

There sat General Washington
Upon a snow white charger
He looked as big as all outdoors
Some thought he was much larger

[Alternate words to verse]

There was General Washington
Upon a strapping stallion
Shouting orders to his men
I guess there was a million

And there was Colonel Putnam, too
Dressed in his regimentals
I guess as how the British king
Can’t whip our Continentals

And there they had a swamping gun
Big as a log of maple
Tied on a deuced little cart
A load for Father’s cattle

And every time they fired it off
It took a horn of powder
It made a noise like Father’s gun
Only a nation louder

I went as near to one myself
As anybody’d dare go
And Father went as near again
I thought he daren’t do so

Cousin Simon grew so bold
I thought he would have cocked it
It scared me so, I streaked it off
And hung by father’s pocket

But Captain Davis has a gun
He clapped his hand upon it
And propped it with a staging iron
Whenever he would aim it

And there I saw a pumpkin shell
As big as mother’s basin
And every time they touched it off
They scampered like the nation

There also was a little keg
All bound around with leather
They beat on it with little clubs
To call the men together

And there they fifed away like fun
And played on cornstalk fiddles
And some had ribbons round their hats
And some around 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

I saw another snarl of men
A’ digging graves, they told me
So tarnal long, so tarnal deep
They ‘tended they should hold me

But I can’t tell you half I saw
They kept up such a smother
I took my hat off, made a bow
Then scampered home to Mother


Entry filed under: Patriotic, Traditional Songs.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The Yankee Doodle Boy  |  March 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    […] This song, obviously referring back to the Revolutionary War tune Yankee Doodle, was written by George M. Cohan way back in 1904 for his new Broadway musical “Little Johnny […]

  • 2. makayla  |  December 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    i HATE this site it sucks

  • 3. makayla  |  December 8, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    I HATE this site it SUCKS!!!!

  • 4. p-nut  |  October 28, 2011 at 5:49 am

    this site is great, when a person gets a song stuck in their head, it’s good to have a place to find the words.


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