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Twinkle Twinkle Toys R Us
Hush little baby, don't say a word
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird don't sing
Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turns brass
Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass...
Jesus Christ, who wrote this song? The WTO? It's like a primer on consumerism. Nothing like exposing kids to positive, empowering messages like "Keep screaming and I'll buy you crap."

After I sing this song to The Squirrelly, I like to sit him down and explain how we do things different in the Baldwin household. For example: we don't care if your mockingbird gets eaten by effin' coyotes, you ain't gettin' no diamond ring. Also: (a) under no circumstances are we buying a billy goat, (2) we're not going to spring for a horse and cart when you already got a perfectly good cart with that bull we purchased earlier, and (3) if your dog named Rover don't bark ... well, we'll chalk that up as a bonus.

Honestly, I surprised advertisers haven't exploited this valuable real estate and inserted their own company's names into the song. "And if that looking glass gets broke, mama's gonna buy you Vanilla Coke ..."

In fact, if there's any marketing weasels reading this: for a modest fee I'll promise to sing a modified version of this lullaby that includes the name of your product to my child at least once a night until he's four. Drop me a line, we'll negotiate.

Meanwhile, in other, terrifying news:

It's like Rosemary's Baby for the 21st century.

Posted on July 09, 2004 to The Squirrelly


As a marketing "professional" -- I say, "you rock." Send me your resume :) Adorable baby!!!!!

Posted by: Trish on July 9, 2004 4:59 PM

I recommend: "The fox went out one stormy night." and "light house on cape ann" both have high educational value.

Posted by: Ben Hyde on July 9, 2004 7:20 PM

Twinkle Twinkle Toys R Us
Here's our reason for the fuss

we asked for some wooden toys
without e-lectronic noise

not the molded plastic rings
and all those buzzing talking things

Posted by: Eliza on July 10, 2004 1:06 AM

There's a South Park version of that rhyme which was on a halloween special. It was about one the boys getting a spooky fish for a present and the fish kills people. It goes like this:

Hush little baby, don't say a word
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird kills people
Mama's gonna bury them in the backyard

This is my fav blog by the way.

Posted by: Anonymous on July 10, 2004 4:21 AM

forgot to leave my name and blog address

Posted by: ian on July 10, 2004 4:24 AM

It's best not to actually pay attention to the lyrics of children's songs (or verses). They're really quite unsettling.

Posted by: cmb on July 10, 2004 6:17 AM

..and if that diamond ring don't please,
go read the blog The Forest For The Trees.

It's all about the product placement baby!

Oh, and cmb is right, nursery rhymes are evil. Humpty Dumpty is about the death of King Richard III, a hunchback who road a war horse named The Wall, and Ring Around the Rosy is all about the Black Plague.

Posted by: Duane on July 10, 2004 12:35 PM

The only thing more disturbing than the original is that it's been updated for hippies. Here's the Amazon.com review:

"Hush little baby, don't say a word,
Mama's going to show you a hummingbird.
If that hummingbird should fly,
Mama's going to show you the evening sky."

Sylvia Long's award-winning (Child Magazine's Best of 1997) ode to mother-child love takes a favorite lullaby and makes it--is it possible?--even better. Troubled by the buy-buy-buy mentality of the original ("Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird/diamond ring/a dog named Rover..."), Long adapts the song to her--and our--liking. Mama now shows her baby the comforting wonders of the world: crickets, shooting stars, warm bedspreads.

Are you gagging yet?

Posted by: Carny Asada on July 10, 2004 4:22 PM

But if you inserted products in one line, you'd have to admit their failings in the second line.

That's no good!

Posted by: pips on July 10, 2004 10:04 PM

Pips--but you could change it so your product was last and the others caused horrific side effects or something.

OK, are you REALLY intimating that your baby looks like Dick Cheney!?! I hope your wife isn't reading this.

Posted by: Miel on July 10, 2004 11:15 PM

I gotta agree one should pay too much attention to the words. Heck, most nursery rhymes are based around death and disease... eek!

Posted by: Debra on July 11, 2004 2:32 AM


Posted by: Debra on July 11, 2004 2:32 AM

He has his father's eyes.

Posted by: Bernie on July 11, 2004 9:14 AM

Think we could swap out the kid for Cheney without folks noticing? Especially considering the Squirrelly's lineage, even at his age I'd feel better with him occupying the position...

Posted by: melanie on July 11, 2004 10:00 AM

Scary. Did you notice them separating Dick Cheney from the Squirrely at birth, or did you assume that that shriveled waste of flesh, dripping of blood and smelling funny, was the umbilical cord?

Posted by: Luke on July 11, 2004 7:43 PM

if you think that is bad try this one...my mother sang this to me, my sister and my nephew..

bye baby bunting
daddys gone a'hunting
to get a little rabbit skin
to wrap his baby bunting in

ummm, i would prefer raising a materialistic child with YOUR song who believes he can trade up when a toy breaks to the alternative potential of a psycho killer who is constantly waiting for daddy to come home with a bloody rabbit pelt to wrap around him

Posted by: lisa on July 11, 2004 8:42 PM

That's not right comparing the Squirrly to Cheney. Not right at all.

Poor Squirrly. Hey, your dad didn't mean it, man.

"Cheney can no longer hide the darkness in his soul. Everytime I see an interview with him I keep expecting a lizard to crawl out of his nose, across his face, and back into his ear."
--Marc Maron

Posted by: Anonymous on July 12, 2004 6:49 AM

We have a CD, "Burl Ives Sings Children's Favorites". Now this includes standards such as The Little Engine that Could, The Little White Duck, etc. It also includes "Froggie Went a Courtin'", at the end of which the entire wedding party is eaten by a snake, and my favorite which begins thusly:

"Hello boys and girls. Sometimes boys and girls get the measles. This song is about a sow, that's a lady pig, which got the measles", and the chorus line is: "The sow took the measles and she died in the spring".

How heartwarming...

Posted by: Windopaene on July 12, 2004 9:37 AM

I *love* "The Sow Took the Measles and She Died in Spring." Plus, the entire song is a paean to capitalist enterprise:

What do you think I made of her nose?
The very best thimble that ever sewed clothes

What do you think I made of her skin?
The very best bridle ... etc.

Posted by: Anonymous on July 12, 2004 10:41 AM

i think your boy is watching too much cnn.

Posted by: the mighty jimbo on July 12, 2004 10:51 AM

And "ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posy, ashes, ashes, we all fall down" is from the middle ages when everyone was dying from the plague. Good times--

And your kid can do a Cheney imitation? He's a genius-- let's see his Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by: bluepoppy on July 12, 2004 1:37 PM

Nah, ring around the rosie isn't about the plague, it's about religious bans on dancing.

And I don't know about the consumerism of "hush little baby" so much as the "oh god please it's 3 am I'll give you anything you want if you'll just shut up and go to sleep." aspect of it.

Posted by: Abigail on July 12, 2004 2:33 PM

...are you sure you were present the night Squirrelly was conceived?

Posted by: MJ on July 12, 2004 4:41 PM

'rock a bye baby on the tree top
when the wind blows the cradle will rock
when the bough breaks the cradle will fall
and down will come baby, cradle and all'

i'm glad that parent is thinking about its precious cradle coming down too, we wouldnt want it stuck up the top of a tree where you put your baby now, would we????


i sang fool on the hill by the beatles. my son is 5 now and magical mystery tour is one of his favourite movies. i also sang brumby jack, but changed the words to 'xander jack' cos that's his name.

'here comes xander jack, bringing the horses down the track, hear him sing as he brings them around, he keeps them together safe and sound'

Posted by: carly on July 12, 2004 4:50 PM

As remarkably corny as John Denver is, try "You fill up my senses" which I think is actually titled Annie, or for Annie, or something. These lyrics adapt very well to your own personal experience with your kid. I loved it, and sang about mountains, laundry, whatever. No product placements.

Posted by: grandaunt on July 12, 2004 8:59 PM

My 5 year old son would probably agree with you:


Posted by: Susan on July 13, 2004 1:20 PM