flipEarlier this month I had to look up lyrics for the song “Three Little Fishes,” the classic novelty hit from the 1940s. I needed to confirm the spelling of the signature chorus phrase: “boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem chu…” Made popular by the band of Kay Kyser (“the Ol’ Perfessor of Swing”), this song became a staple of musical nursery rhymes in the 50s and 60s. One of the lyric sources turned up this, which made me wonder…

Any number of theories may explain this; history has a way of editing its moral documentation. It’s probably just a transcription error. Then again, the song (or its performance) could have been a clever way of pulling one over on that era’s radio censors. If so, touché!

“Three Little Fishes” was composed by Josephine Carringer, Bernice Idins and Saxie Dowell.
Graphic courtesy: Flipper