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The Wheels on the Bus

The Wheels on the Bus go round and round [repeat]... What is the last line, repeated every verse?

All through the town
17(22.7%)
All around the town
3(4.0%)
All Day Long
52(69.3%)
Something else, to be described in the comments
3(4.0%)


Wikipedia describes "The Wheels on the Bus" as a mid-20th century anonymous folk song, with three different possible last lines, repeated every verse.

I grew up with "The Wheels on the Bus" going round and round "all through the town". In retrospect, it seems a song of exploration, checking out the variety of humanity which occupies the wide expanse of the town's many neighborhoods, and thus might also be found on the bus, combined with the inevitable annoyance of fellow passengers and a repetitious song. It's a song from the perspective of a cross-town passenger, in which (as I learned it) the driver on the bus features in the inevitable second verse (saying "Move on Back"), thus clearly marking him/her as yet another character, if one of particular interest, to be encountered when exploring by bus.

Where I am now, everyone knows the last line as "all day long", which transforms it into a song about the weariness of a bus driver's long, long work day, and makes me think of transport unions and labor laws. I keep wanting to know if it was ever used as a picketing song for a transport union. The variety of humanity is now for the bus driver to be endured, rather than to be explored from the perspective of a passenger. Indeed, in none of the (many, many) times I have now heard it around here has the driver ever featured as a character within the song, leaving him/her excluded (at least, in my expectation of hearing that verse), an observer throughout that long, long work day.

That last line entirely recontextualizes the song for me.

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Comments

( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
frandowdsofa
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:34 pm (UTC)
I'm really enjoying these explorations. Have you come across monkeys jumping on the bed yet?
owlfish
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC)
I'm glad!

I've come across a couple of "five" songs, but the monkeys were not among them. (Ducks, frogs...) I know I grew up with some animal sleeping in a bed, but now I can't remember what kind it was! Quite possibly monkeys. They were sleeping, not jumping.
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(no subject) - lil_shepherd - Feb. 12th, 2013 04:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kashmera - Feb. 12th, 2013 06:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lil_shepherd - Feb. 12th, 2013 08:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - del_c - Feb. 12th, 2013 10:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frandowdsofa - Feb. 12th, 2013 12:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - saffenn - Feb. 12th, 2013 11:46 am (UTC) - Expand
gillo
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
I think the driver is not in the song because it's the old-style double-decker bus with a conductor - who says "Hurry on down". The driver was in his own little cab, with no access from the passenger area. The bell goes "ting-a-ling-a-ling" to signal the next stop, and the movement to go with it - hand overhead, pulling down a cable sharply - shows it is operated by the conductor to signal to the driver.

It goes on "all day long" because it's a regular, frequent and reliable service. (Yes, another world...)
owlfish
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC)
I like your optimism about the last line. A much more positive was to think about it!
ellid
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
Uh...would you believe that my mother never sang that one to me?

OTOH, I still sometimes sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to myself.
owlfish
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)
I doubt my parents sang this one to me, but clearly I picked it up somehow. Nursery school?

"Itsy Bitsy" is a fine song! I still need to make a followup post to that about my Latin version.
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(no subject) - owlfish - Feb. 12th, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tisiphone - Feb. 12th, 2013 06:27 am (UTC) - Expand
frandowdsofa
Feb. 12th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
Ten little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and broke his head.
Mummy called the doctor
And the doctor said
THAT'S what you get for jumping on the bed!

Nine little monkeys...

I always associated it with Wheels on the bus because I first heard it, in its entirety, several times, while stuck on a double decker somewhere near Finsbury.
retsuko
Feb. 12th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
I've also heard "No More monkeys jumping on the bed!" for the last line.
desperance
Feb. 12th, 2013 12:07 am (UTC)
I never heard this till I was an adult and my adult friends had children. To them, it has been all-pervasive; but either it hadn't achieved that degree of penetration when I was a kid, or some freak of circumstance excluded it from my own particular world. Wiki dates it to "mid-twentieth century", but it might've taken longer to cross the Atlantic...?

However, the version I have heard from all the kids I have known is "All day long."
owlfish
Feb. 12th, 2013 12:23 am (UTC)
According to the Google NGram viewer, it took off in the mid-1960s overall, but the early 1970s for British English in particular.
(no subject) - desperance - Feb. 12th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
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easter
Feb. 12th, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
"All over town."
retsuko
Feb. 12th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
I've heard both the first and second options used, but never "all day long".
lil_shepherd
Feb. 12th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
Incidentally, like Chaz this is certainly not one I ever heard as a child but, unlike him, and despite never having had all that much to do with children, it came into my consciousness around the 1980s, probably because Playschool was on the TV as background noise.
inamac
Feb. 12th, 2013 05:18 am (UTC)
I imagine it's new enough to still be in copyright, so there must be an original version somewhere with a specified last line.
(no subject) - lil_shepherd - Feb. 12th, 2013 05:39 am (UTC) - Expand
tisiphone
Feb. 12th, 2013 06:26 am (UTC)
To clarify my response, I actually have heard several versions, but the oldest one I know (and the one I probably sang myself) is "all around the town".
sollersuk
Feb. 13th, 2013 06:59 am (UTC)
"All the way to London Town"
(from my childhood in the 1950s)
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )