Mudcat Café message #819555 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #53292   Message #819555
Posted By: GUEST,Richie
05-Nov-02 - 10:14 PM
Thread Name: Kemo Kimo info
Subject: RE: Kemo Kimo info
I generally agree with Irish sergeant about the Frog in the well origin. Here are some of my private notes (sorry about the rank jokes-corporal punishment is deserved):

Spaeth reports that one H. Wood published a song called "Keemo Kimo" in 1854 (George Christy and Wood's Melodies (New Song Book) copyright 1854). "The refrain is not originally Negro, but is an old English nonsense rhyme- Prof. Kittredge in JAFL, xxxv, 396." The "Kemo" refrain probably was based on the "Frog in the Spring/Frog in the Well" songs which is the "Puddy in the Well" offshoot of Froggie:

There lived a puddy in a well,
Cuddy alone, Cuddy alone
There lived a puddy in a well
Cuddy alone and I

There lived a puddy in a well
And a mousie in a mill
Kickmaleerie, cowden down
Cuddy alone and I.

The "Cuddy alone and I" is also where "Kitty Alone" songs originated:

There was a frog lived in a well,
Kitty alone, Kitty alone;
There was a frog lived in a well;
Kitty alone and I!

There was a frog lived in a well,
And a merry mouse in a mill.
Cock me cary, Kitty alone,
Kitty alone and I.

"Froggie" comes in two distinct forms. One has the un-huh or hum refrain, while the other has a nonsense lyric refrain that often includes the word "kemo" or other nonsense syllables:


A froggie went a courting and he did ride
King kong kitchie kitchie ki-me-o
with a sword and a pistol by his side
King kong kitchie kitchie ki-me-o.

Chorus: Ki-mo-ke-mo ki-mo-ke,
Way down yonder in a hollow tree
An owl and a bat and a bumble bee
King kong kitchie kitchie ki-me-o.

"Kemo (properly "Keemo") Kimo," because of its popularity and wide oral circulation in the mid to late 1800's in the minstrel era, created a mystifying array of syllables sung to the Chorus. The song was also popular in England in the 1800's by the minstrel vocalist Sam Cowell. The English Morris Dance Tune (2/4 time) version came from the United States minstrels (who got it from the English settlers!)

There is a Keemo Kimo Schottisch composed by James Bellak, 1854, and a version arranged for the cotillion in the on-line Levy Collection (also the 1854 original sheet music).

-Richie