Ol’ King Cole

Old King Cole is really an English nursery rhyme dated at least in print to 1708. It has become
somewhat associated with Christmas as “Old King Cole” seems to be in celebration as he calls his musicians and entertainers to court and the song is sung as a cumulative song, in the same
manner as The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Old King Cole 2 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=975390

Within the usual affects of folk music, such a popular
melody and lyrics have become parodied ad nauseum; in the 1920s a version appears in the US at the expense of all the ranks in the Army, with the tag line being,

“Beer! Beer! Beer! Said the privates. Merry men are we!
There’s none so fair as can compare with the fighting infantry”

And variaitons of that as well. As this parody it also appears in print in 1929 in a music book
“Sound Off! Soldier Songs from Yankee Doodle to Parley Voo” by Edward A. Dolph.

This version below I gleaned from the singing of Marc Bernier. I do not know where he might
have collected it from although a rather similar (but not as polished) version appears in the
album “Dirty Ditties” by Johnny Logan – Born Sean Patrick Michael Sherrard, 13 May 1954 in
Australia – Irish singer and composer. I give full credit to Marc.

 

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 beer,
And he called for his fiddlers three.

Now every fine fiddler had a very fine fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he!
Oh fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee, said the fiddlers
Merry men are we!
There’s no one here that can drink more beer
Than the sons of harmony!

 

Now 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 beer,
And he called for his fluters three.

Now every fine fluter had a very fine flute,
And a very fine flute had he!
Oh tootle-ootle-oot, ootle-oot, said the fluters
Fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee said the fiddlers
Merry men are we!
There’s no one here that can drink more beer
Than the sons of harmony!

 

Now… tailors three.

Now every fine tailor had a very fine prick
And a very fine prick had he!
Oh stick it in and out, in and out, said the tailors
tootle-ootle-oot, ootle-oot, said the fluters
Fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee said the fiddlers
Merry men are…

 

Now… painters three

Now every fine painter had a very fine brush
And a very fine brush had he!
Oh slap it up and down, up and down, said the painters
stick it in and out, in and out, said the tailors
tootle-ootle-oot, ootle-oot, said the fluters
Fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee said the fiddlers
Merry men are…

 

Now… Jugglers three

Now every fine juggler had a pair of fine balls
And a pair of fine balls had he!
Oh balls in the air, in the air said the jugglers
slap it up and down, up and down, said the painters
stick it in and out, in and out, said the tailors
tootle-ootle-oot, ootle-oot, said the fluters
Fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee said the fiddlers
Merry men are…

 

Now… coalmen three

Now every fine coalman had a very fine sack
And a very fine sack had he!
Do you want it in the front or the back, said the coalmen
balls in the air, in the air said the jugglers
slap it up and down, up and down, said the painters
stick it in and out, in and out, said the tailors
tootle-ootle-oot, ootle-oot, said the fluters
Fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee said the fiddlers
Merry men are…

 

Now… Hunters three

Now every fine hunter had a very fine horse
And a very fine horse had he!
Oh, ride ‘er in the grass, in the grass, said the hunters
want it in the front or the back, said the coalmen
balls in the air, in the air said the jugglers
slap it up and down, up and down, said the painters
stick it in and out, in and out, said the tailors
tootle-ootle-oot, ootle-oot, said the fluters
Fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee said the fiddlers
Merry men are…

 

  • another verse recently brought to my attention

Now… carpenters three

Now every fine carpenter had a very fine hammer
And a very fine hammer had he!
Oh bang, bang away, band away, said the carpenters
ride ‘er in the grass, in the grass, said the hunters
want it in the front or the back, said the coalmen
balls in the air, in the air, said the jugglers
slap it up and down, up and down, said the painters
stick it in and out, in and out, said the tailors
tootle-ootle-oot, ootle-oot, said the fluters
Fiddle-diddle-dee, diddle-dee said the fiddlers
Merry men are…