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What's Behind Jennie Jenkins


Tiffany Alfonso

The "peanuts and cracker jack" mentioned in the popular song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was actually a snack with a prize inside each package, but what about the "fol-dy-rol-dy, til-de-tol-dy, seek-a-double, use-a-cause-a, roll-a-find-me-roll ," in the lesser-known song "Jennie Jenkins?" Does it mention a carpet, a dress, or a Sunday hat? No one knows what those goofy words mean, but the song has some interesting features.

"Jennie Jenkins" was a dialogue song written by an anonymous writer for the young at heart, with one protagonist inquiring the title protagonist what color shoal she wear, but she refuses and explains why in a rhyme. For example, I asked her if she would wear green, but she retorted that she won't wear green because either it's the color of a bean or it's a shame to be seen and she'll buy herself a "fol-dy-rol-dy, til-de-tol-dy, seek-a-double, use-a-cause-a, roll-a-find-me-roll ."

Ever since my childhood, I used to not know the song title, but the melody was catchy. When I was two, I was jumping on my mother's bed to that song, to the video of children's tunes which nowadays I couldn't remember its name. Few years later, I watched another title of the Wee Sing series, "Wee Sing Train ." The section that featured "Jennie Jenkins" was when the train stopped at a castle which was inhabited by the song's main protagonist, as a typical fairy-tale princess. But this version has more bite than the other childhood video and it's the most exciting version I've ever heard overall.

So why do people do away with this song? I would be in a faction of the judges of children's tunes, who states that it teaches the youth colors and how things are described by them. For myself, I'll compose variations of it after my other arrangement ("Come, Thou Almighty King") for a college symphonic band. But what about the "fol-dy-rol-dy, til-de-tol-dy, seek-a-double, use-a-cause-a, roll-a-find-me-roll" kind of object? The droll name of it mentioned in the refrain of "Jennie Jenkins" was a mystery...

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