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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
All around the town
All Day Long
Something else, to be described in the comments

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.



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.
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.
Feb. 12th, 2013 05:39 am (UTC)
Interestingly, the British Council version uses 'All Through the Town' while the BBC version uses 'All Day Long' - confirming, I think, my instinct that I got it originally from the BBC (and also because it is accompanied in my head by a very simple cartoon graphic.)