Saturday, May 24, 2014

Song Spot: Hey Jig a Jig


Caution: risque content and language

I first came across this song watching a  rerun on TV of a wonderful 1961 Brit war movie The Long and The Short and The Tall. It’s set in 1942 in the Burmese jungle and stars Richard Todd, Richard Harris, Laurence Harvey and a very young David McCallum


At one point in the movie Laurence Harvey, as Private Bamforth, sings the song and dances a jig with one of the other soldiers.  A great scene.


The song is usually entitled Hey Jig a Jig but it is also known as Follow the Band and it can be seen and enjoyed by clicking on the following link, which shows the clip from the film:

So why am I writing about it, apart from the fact that it is a funny song?

It is a good representative of the rugby songs tradition, those bawdy and irreverent songs which, in a stricter and more censorious past, were often sung in the (male) dressing rooms after rugby and other sporting matches, at male university pissups and, in the words of Robin Williams, gatherings of men with men doing manly things. Songs such as The Bastard King of England and Chastity Belt were the musical equivalent of English seaside postcards, but although their function was to be bawdy and politically incorrect, they also sometimes were clever and witty. In some cases they were bawdy versions in the style of English music hall songs where the performer sang the verses and the audience joined in on the choruses.

Hey Jig a Jig is one of the witty ones, using plays on words to raise a laugh and where the rest of the gathering would join in on the chorus.

Here are the lyrics from The Long and The Short and The Tall clip:

My husband’s a corporal, a corporal, a corporal,
A very fine corporal is he,
All day he knocks men about, knocks men about, knocks men about
At night he comes home and knocks me.

Singing hey jig a jig, cook a little pig,
Follow the band, 
Follow the band all the way,
Singing hey jig a jig, cook a little pig,
Follow the band, 
Follow the band all the way,

Cos my little sister Lily has a stall in Piccadilly,
And my mother has another on the Strand,
‘And my father’s flogging charcoal
‘Round The Elephant and Castle,
We’re the finest flippin’ family in the land.

Singing hey jig a jig, cook a little pig,
Follow the band, 
Follow the band all the way,
Singing hey jig a jig, cook a little pig,
Follow the band, 
Follow the band all the way,

* * * * * * * *

Some further comments on the song:

Some versions use “fuck a little pig” and “kiss a little pig” in place of "cook a little pig."

* * * * * * * *

There are numerous verses with many being made up on the spot at boozy renditions.

The verses follow a standard structure where the first 3 lines describe the activity pursued by the husband/boyfriend/girlfriend etc and then a personal 4th line that is usually bawdy and has a connection to the activity described.

The following link shows the lyrics below and has an audio clip, just click on the box after the song title:

They say there's a boat on the river, the river, 
They say that it's loaded with beer
Oh, why is that boat on the river, the river
It fucking well ought to be here. 

Singing:

Hey, jig-a-jig fuck a little pig
Follow the band, 
Follow the band with your cock in your hand
Hey, jig-a-jig fuck a little pig
Follow the band
Fall-in and follow the band

I've been in the saddle for hours and hours
I've stuck it as long as I could
I've stuck it and stuck it
And now I say fuck it
My asshole is not made of wood. 

Singing:

Hey, jig-a-jig fuck a little pig
Follow the band, 
Follow the band with your cock in your hand
Hey, jig-a-jig fuck a little pig
Follow the band
Fall-in and follow the band

* * * * * * * *

Here are two verses meant to be sung one after the other, separated by the chorus:

My girlfriend’s a lawyer, a lawyer, a lawyer 
A mighty fine lawyer is she 
All day long she fucks you, she fucks you, she fucks you 
And at night she comes home and fucks me 

My girlfriend’s a prostitute, a prostitute, a prostitute 
A mighty fine prostitute is she 
All day long she fucks you, she fucks you, she fucks you 
And when she comes home she goes to sleep. 

* * * * * * * *

Hash House Harriers have a different set of lyrics.

(Back in my fit days I ran hash, which consists of a hare setting a trail using chalk etc and the hounds later following. If the trail is properly laid with false turns, suspension of marking etc it allows regroups for the slower runners to catch up).

Lyrics to Follow the Hare:

Drink a little bit, Fuck a little bit, Follow the hare 
Follow the hare with your balls in the air, singing 
Drink a little bit, Fuck a little bit, Follow the hare 
Follow the hare all the way

My father's a _____. A _____ , a _____, 
A mighty fine _____ is he! 
All day he ______ ______, He _____ _____, he ______ _____, 
And when he comes home, he _____ me. 

Oilman/drills wells/drills
Miner/shafts me/explores
Repo Man/repos/seizes
Ploughman/ploughs fields/plows me
Glassblower/blows glass/blows
Nurse/takes temps/takes
Gymnast/strides poles/strides mine 
Dancer/does steps/does 
Asthmatic/sucks air/sucks
Cowboy/rides broncs/rides
Mechanic/screws bolts/screws
Guitarist/plays licks/licks
Carpenter/bangs nails/bangs
Truck driver/grinds gears/grinds
Postman/stuffs boxes/stuffs
Plumber/lays pipe/lays
Dentist/drills you/drills
Taxidermist/stuffs dead things/stuffs

* * * * * * * *

On the other hand, an American book, The Erotic Muse – American Bawdy Songs, uses the same occupations as the HHH lyrics and says this about the song, which they say is called My Husband’s a Mason:

“The pun, considered the lowest form of humor, is put to good use in service of the lowest form of songlore. Despite its modern allusions, “My Husband’s a Mason” can be traced to a song printed first in the early eighteenth century – one that was probably old then.

Read the verses at:


It uses the chorus:
Singing hey jig a jig, kiss a little pig,
Follow the band, 
Follow the band all the way,
Singing hey jig a jig, cook a little pig,
Follow the band, 
Follow the band all the way,

* * * * * * * *

The above site also makes the observation that it a long standing tradition in English and Scottish bawdy songs to suggest a line with swear words or eroticism but to then substitute a euphemism. Hence there are also verses to the above song that state that at night the husband comes home and drinks tea. This would enable it to be sung in more social gatherings as well.

See, for example:
which has a collection of such verses:

My husband's a carpenter, a carpenter, a carpenter
All day he bangs boards, he bangs boards
And at night he comes home and drinks tea

My husband's a jockey, a jockey, a jockey
All day he mounts horses, he mounts horses
And at night he comes home and drinks tea

My husband's a postman, a postman, a postman
All day he licks stamps, he licks stamps
And at night he comes home and drinks tea

My husband's an executive, an executive, an executive
All day he succeeds, he succeeds
And at night he comes home and drinks tea

My husband's a folk singer, a folk singer, a folk singer
All day he plucks strings, he plucks strings
And at night he comes home and drinks tea

The last verse of the session should be:

My husband's a loafer, a loafer, a loafer
All day he drinks tea, he drinks tea, he drinks tea
And at night la da dada dada

* * * * * * * * *

No comments:

Post a Comment