Kemo Kimo

DESCRIPTION: Non-ballad. Some texts have brief stories (e.g. about "darkies" ten feet tall and too big for their beds), but the basic characteristic is the nonsense refrain pattern: sing song kitty kitchie kimeo / kemo kimo, Delaware, me hi me ho and in comes Sally...
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1854 (Christy & Wood, _New Song Book_)
KEYWORDS: nonballad nonsense animal
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South)) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (29 citations):
Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 361, "Little Brown Frog" (1 text)
Scott-EnglishSB, pp. 82-83, "Keemo-Kimo" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 282, "There Was an Old Frog" (2 texts plus an excerpt and a fragment, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 239-241, "There Was an Old Frog" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 282A)
Arnold, p. 86, "There Was a Frog" (1 fragment, 1 tune, probably this)
Belden, pp. 494-499, "The Frog's Courtship" (7 texts in 3 groups, 2 tunes; several of the texts are short, and IB at least appears to be "Kemo Kimo")
BrownIII 120, "The Frog's Courtship" (3 texts in the appendix to this song)
BrownSchinhanV 120, "The Frog's Courtship" (11 tunes, 3 of them from the "Kemo Kimo" appendices, plus text excerpts)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 244-248, "The Frog He Went A-Courting" (3 texts; the third, with local title "The Gentleman Frog" and tune on pp. 420-421, is probably this piece the first two texts are "Frog Went A-Courting")
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 156-157, "Cree-Mo-Cri-Mo-Dorro-Wah" (1 text plus a fragent, 1 tune); also p. 201 (no title) (1 fragment); also p. 285, "Keemo Kimo" (1 text, the Christy/Wood version)
SharpAp 221, "The Frog in the Well" (4 texts, 4 tunes); 242, "The Opossum" (1 text, 1 tune)
MHenry-Appalachians, p. 1, "Farm Life Song" (1 text); p. 230, "The Frog and the Mouse" (1 fragment, probably this)
Ritchie-Southern, p. 67, "Bandyrowe" (1 text, 1 tune)
Boette, p. 102, "Ky-rum" (1 fragment, 1 tune, consisting only of the chorus, but it appears to be this)
Sulzer, p. 23, "Nonsense Song No. 2" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-2ed, pp. 139-140, "Way Down South Where I Was Born" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brewster 78, "Keemo-Kimo" (3 fragments)
Eddy 45, "The Opossum" (2 fragments, 2 tunes)
Stout 22, pp. 30-31, "The Frog and the Mouse" (1 text plus a fragment, the text being a "Frog Went A-Courting" version with a "kemo kimo" chorus, the fragment being simply a "Kemo Kimo" chorus that might be anything including this song); 23, pp. 31-32, "The Frog in the Well" (2 short texts)
Linscott, pp. 204-206, "Frog in the Well" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sturgis/Hughes, pp. 26-29, "The Frog in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-Maritime, pp. 132-133, "Frog in the Well"; p. 135, "Get to Bed" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 84, "Kitty Alone and I" (1 text, 1 tune)
Warner 68, "The Bull Frog" (1 text, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1198, p. 83, "Kitty Kimo" (2 references)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #69, pp. 77-79, "(There was a frog liv'd in a well)" (a complex composite with a short version of "Frog Went A-Courting" plus enough auxiliary verses to make an almost complete "Kemo Kimo" text)
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 193, "(There dwelt a puddy in a well)" (1 text, very long, containing a full "Frog Went A-Courting" version plus sundry "Kemo Kimo" type verses)
Gilbert, p. 42, "Polly Won't You Try Me O" (1 fragmentary text)

Roud #16
Lawrence Older, "Frog in the Spring" (on LOlder01)
Prairie Ramblers, "Beaver Creek" (c. 1935; on CrowTold02)

cf. "The Carrion Crow/A Kangaroo Sat on an Oak"
cf. "Raccoon" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Frog Went A-Courting" (floating lyrics, theme)
cf. "One Fine Day" (floating lyrics)
Sing Song Kitty
NOTES [299 words]: There is a songsheeet on the American Memory website which credits authorship to Charles White and states that the song was regularly sung by Dan Emmett; unfortunately, it is undated. - PJS
There were at least two broadsides of this version, "Kitty Kimo" ("Dar was a frog lived in a spring"), one by Andrews and one by De Marsan; see Wolf, p. 83.
Several of the collected texts, such as Lawrence Older's "Frog in the Spring," have lyrics reminiscent of "Frog Went A-Courting," raising the possibility that this is a sort of a by-blow of that song, and some including Roud lump them.
The notes in Brown, in fact, state that this piece is a minstrel adaption created by Sam Cowell some time around 1850. (On this topic, see the notes to "Billy Barlow (II)"). Cohen accepts this attribution, though Christy and Wood claim that theirs is "the only authentic version." It mentions the frog only briefly in the third stanza, and in a way not at all reminiscent of "Frog Went A-Courting."
These sundry minstrel songs, however, have little plot and are really just thematic verses about animals. It appears that the two combined by mixture, rather than separated as a result of pieces breaking off. As a result, I classify them separately from "Frog...," with the understanding that this is a classification of the extremes. One should check the cross-references for related songs.
Lena Bourne Fish's version, collected by the Warners in 1941, has the extraordinary property of using only three notes of the major scale: Do re mi.
Roud separates the Ritchie "Bandyrowe" texts into its own number (#7402). The difference, though, is only one of name (apart from the two verses Jean Ritchie made up); her version is a fairly pure example of the "Kitty Alone" type, and I classify it here accordingly. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
File: R282

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