Old King Cole Was A Beery Old Soul

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Given that today is Mother Goose Day, a day to “re-appreciate the old nursery rhymes,” I couldn’t help but point out a few beer references in Mother Goose.

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But as for Mother Goose herself, you can read a lot of the other Mother Goose Rhymes and many more by letter, read her possible history and Just Who Was Mother Goose?.

Old King Cole

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The usual Old King Cole goes like this:

Old King Cole
Was a merry old soul,
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe,
And he called for his bowl,
And he called for his fiddlers three.
Each fiddler, he had a fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he;
Twee-tweedle-dee, tweedle-dee, went the fiddlers,
Oh, there’s none so rare,
As can compare
With old King Cole and his fiddlers three!

But the song takes a decidedly military turn, and these soldiers love their beer:

Now Old King Cole was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he
He called for is pipe in the middle of the night and he called for
his Gunners three.

Beer Beer Beer said the Gunners,
Merry merry men are we;
There’s none so fair as can compare with the Royal Artillery.

And the more modern version, copyrighted 1929 and as recorded by Harry Belafonte, sticks with beer:

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he
Called for his pipe
And he called for his bowl
And he called for his privates three

“Beer, beer, beer”, said the privates
Merry men are we
There’s none so fair as can compare
With the Fighting Infantry

And here’s the music, too. Plus, according to Wikipedia, “the United States military also has a version in the form of a marching cadence during the 1980s and in to the present.”

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
and a merry ol’ soul was he, uh huh.
He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl
and he called for his privates three, uh huh.
Beer! Beer! Beer! cried the private.
Brave men are we
There’s none so fair as they can compare
to the airborne infantry, uh huh.

There’s also quite a bit of controversy surrounding who exactly King Cole was, or even if existed. Read all about it at the Kyle Society or the StateMaster Encyclopedia.

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Old Mother Hubbard

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Old Mother Hubbard also had a beer element to it, though most people don’t know about it because it’s part of the long version, not the one we’re all used to.

Old Mother Hubbard;
Went to the cupboard,
To give her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

And that’s where it ends for most of us, but it actually goes on for another thirteen stanzas. The fifth stanza is the following:

She went to the alehouse
To get him some beer;
When she came back
The dog sat in a chair.

You’ve go to love a world when children were let it to the reality of life. You can read the entire poem on Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes (it’s about halfway down on the left).

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