Silly Song of States

Silly Song of States

Not long ago, I received an e-mail thanking me for having posted the lyrics of a particular song somewhere on Jimbo’s web site; it had been nagging at the person who wrote me, and apparently it was nowhere else to be found on the net.

The lyrics were as follows:

What did Delaware to Georgia’s party down in Maryland?
She wore a New Jersey that Virginia bought in Michigan.
Did you see that Tennessee did see a saw in Arkansas?
For this silly song of states, Iowa big apology!

Without going into why I bothered to post such a thing on someone’s blog, or why I even have that silly song in my head, I’ll readily admit that my mind is filled with useless garbage, and it made me happy to know that at least one person in this world found some worth in any of it.

Further in the e-mail, however, he asked that if I had the time could I possibly send him an .mp3 of the song, or even a .wav of me humming it into the microphone? I replied that I would do what I could and that I would try to find the sheet music among my collection of piano books, since I vaguely remembered seeing it, notes and all, and scan it for him.

Well, I just spent half an hour this evening looking through my books, and I couldn’t find it. I have no working microphone and no way to make music on my computer. I was forced to hum the song over and over again, while trying to figure out what the notes might actually be.

And I think I have it. I can’t be sure, since I don’t have perfect pitch, a piano, or the sheet music at hand. I only have a rough guess:

If anyone out there with the proper tools wants to create an .mp3 out of this, by all means, please do so I can send the guy a link to it!

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41 thoughts on “Silly Song of States

  1. We are looking for the words to a song, very much like this one, that says

    Oh, what did Delaware, boys?
    Oh, what did Delaware?
    Oh, what did Delaware, boys?
    Oh, what…
    I ask you again as a personal friend
    Oh, what did Delaware?

    She wore her new Jersey, boys.
    She wore her new Jersey.
    ……
    I tell you again as a personal friend
    She wore her New Jersey.

    Where did what did Idaho, boys?
    He hoed the Maryland.

    etc.
    Do you happen to know where a list of these verses could be found.
    I can figure out the tune but I’m sure we have forgotten some of the verses.

  2. I recall a few more verses but for some I can’t recall the “response”.

    How did “Flora-die”? She died in “Miss-ouri” (Misery)

    Where has “Ore-gone”? To buy a “New-brass-key”

    What did “Io-weigh”? He weighed a “Washing-ton”

    What did ‘Missy-sip”? Don’t recall!!

    How did “Wiscon-sin”? Not sure, but I can guess (with an “Ida-ho”?)

    What did “Ohi-owe”? Drawing a blank!

    Hope this helps!!

    1. Mississipp sipped a Minnesota
      I made up a new one: What did Ohio? She owed a lot of Texas!

      Hadn’t thought of this in years. I’m a retired teacher and was subbing today for a 4th grade class that was working on a US map!

  3. I recalled singing this song as a scout so I went to one of their websites and got a more complete version (but without my “R” rated “Ida-ho” number)

    What Did Delaware, Boys?
    Suggested by Bill McGinnis

    Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware?
    Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware?
    Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware?
    I ask you now as a personal friend, what did Delaware?

    She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey.
    She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey.
    She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey.
    I tell you now as a personal friend, she wore her New Jersey.

    Other verse pairs include:

    Oh, what does Iowa? She weighs a Washington.
    Oh, what does Idaho? She hoes her Maryland.
    Oh, what does Tennessee? She sees what Arkansas.
    Oh, where has Oregon? She’s gone to Oklahoma.
    Oh, what did Massa-chew? She chewed her Connecti-cud.
    Oh, how did Flori-die? She died in Missouri.

    Here’s a second version of the song, which appears to go to a
    different tune than the song above.

    What did Delaware, boys?
    What did Delaware?
    What did Delaware, boys?
    What did Delaware?
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    That’s what she did wear.

    Why did Cali-phone ya,
    Why did Cali-phone?
    Why did Cali-phone ya,
    Was she all alone?
    She phoned to say “Hawaii”
    She phoned to say (“How-ah-yee”)
    She phoned to say “Hawaii”
    That’s why she did phone.

    Where has Oregon, boys,
    Where has Oregon?
    If you want Alaska,
    (I’ll-ask-a) where she’s gone.
    She went to pay her Texas
    She went to pay her Texas
    She went to pay her Texas,
    That’s where she has gone.

    What did Mississip, boys,
    What did Mississip?
    What did Mississip, boys,
    Through her pretty lips?
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    That’s what she did sip.

    How did Wiscon-sin, boys?
    She stole a New-brass-key,
    Too bad that Arkan-saw, boys,
    And so did Tenna-see.
    It made poor Flori-die, boys,
    It made poor Flori-die, you see,
    She died in Missouri, boys,
    She died in Missouri!

  4. I recalled most of these in the same pair’s that Gene had except for a few differences that are mostly irrelevant.

    Where has Oregon? She went to pay her Texas.
    How did Wiscon-sin? She stole a Newbraskee.
    What did O-hi-owe? I don’t know Alaska.

    Glad I found this website as my family was just trying to recall the song as well. We got most of it but had forgotten California/Hawaii and Massachusetts/ Connecticut

  5. Thanks for the words. I believe the first word “see” should be “know”. It was in a John Thompson book of piano exercises that I used in the late 40s and early 50s. I will write out the music for the 3rd and 4th lines. You have lines one and two presented correctly. Don 6/12/06

  6. Thanks, Don! I couldn’t find the sheet music, so what I have up there is the best that I could remember. 🙂

  7. I remember it this way.

    Why did Cali phone ya (California) She called to say ha why ya (Hawaii)
    How did Wiscon sin (Wisconsin) He stole a new brass key (Nebraska)
    What did Ida hoe (Idaho) He hoed his merry land (Maryland)
    What did Missus sip (Mississippi) She sipped her many sodas (Minnesota)
    What did Della wear (Delaware) She wore a new jersey (New Jersey)
    What did Ohi owe (Ohio) He owed his many taxes (Texas)
    What did Io weigh (Iowa) He weighed a washing ton (Washington)
    How did Flori die (Florida) She died in misery (Missouri)
    Where has Ora gone (Oregon) He’s walking Okla home (Oklahoma)
    What did Tennis see (Tennesee) He saw what Arkan saw (Arkansas)
    What did Massi shoot (Massachusetts) He shot a nasty varmint (Vermont)
    What did Connie cut (Conneticutt) I don’t know a’ll ask er (Alaska)

  8. Make that two people out there wanting to know the words to this silly song! Thanks! I can sleep now. I seem to remember this from an early Schwinn piano book. Hope that helps you. j

  9. Oh my,
    Everyone seems to want to remember this song. I was reminded of it today and all I could remember was:
    What did Delaware wear? She wore her New Jersey.
    Thanks for your help!

  10. Perry Como had a hit with this and the lyrics he used are on site of his lyrics

  11. Thanks this has been bugging me for years! I love the song, just didn’t know all the words.

  12. I remember this song from way back in the fifties.It was sung by a girl……but Who?

  13. I remember a different one:

    What did Massa chew boys?
    Massa chewed some Michi-gum.

  14. I remember this song from the radio in 1964-1965 – the Bill McGinnis version noted above. It was sung by a man – is Bill McGinnis the singer, the writer or just someone who knew the song? It got me through an 8th grade geography quiz of the states. I’ve been trying to remember the verses for years, but after a google search just now, I see that I’ve actually known about 90% of the song all this time. Thanks for the other 10%. I’ll have to check out the Perry Como link – it may have been him.

  15. So funny to find this thread. My six-year-old is learning piano and I remembered the song of states from my childhood piano practice. I had the same Thompson exercise book as Don above. So I googled “Iowa big apology” and this was the very first site I found.

    Small world. Thanks for the lyrics.

  16. What did Connie cut? Her shaggy Manie.
    I sang it in gradeschool in the 80’s. No idea who sang it orginally.
    had

  17. I’m looking for the chords for this, can you post them? I’m learning it for my grandma. Her dad used to play it when she was little. Thanks.

  18. love this song,,, been singing it for years with my granny who is gone now. I am enjoying singit to my kids. My son is teaching it to his 5th grade class who are all learing the fifty states and are looking for a easy way to learn ways to remember them all. The version my granny taught me has all fifty states. 🙂

    1. In 2008 or so you posted that you had the words to ALL 50 states of the song “What Did Delaware” I have only found 38-40 so far. Is there anyway possible you could e-mail me the words to the whole song? I’m in my late 60’s now and can not believe there are ppl my age that don’t know this. I want to share it with my small world on Facebook …you should do the same. Let’s bring it back.
      Thanks, Bebe

  19. wow.. I have that song in a music book of mine.. I wish I saw this earlier. I could have easily sent it yo u.

  20. Thanks for the words! I was also looking for them. BTW, the notes for the last line should be:

    dddfcccfggaggff

    sorry but I don’t have the software to put it onto the clef

  21. Thank You all I have been looking for this song so has my mother, all i could think of was about going to pay the taxes . people think i’m nuts but then again I got out of school in the 80’s

  22. I was trying to explain this song to my grandsons today and could only
    remember a few of the states. Thanks so much for the quickie refresher course for my brain!!

  23. I am a teacher of social studies and am trying to teach the states to my students. Thanks for the help and the cleaned up version. Had forgotten about Como singing it.

  24. I grew up singing this song and we also sang in on cross country road trips. My cousins and I were recalling this song. We learned the 2nd version of Gene Smiths.

    Funny as we will be singing around the house and that song will come up and we get most of the States but I am glad I found this site to fill in the gaps we were missing. It is a good one for kids. I learned it as a small child and I am 55 and still remember it so it’s proof it sticks. Geography became my favorite course in school and love it as an adult and this song played a lot into making learning fun.

  25. I was just playing a States and Capitals game with my son and started singing some of thiese silly phrases. Was looking for the words and stumbled upon this post. I have the 45 (which was my Mom’s when she was growing up)…will have to dig it out and listen to it and impress my kids with it!!

  26. Could Natalie (post June 15, 2008) send me an email with the song. Maybe she can scan it into her computer and attach it? thanks for all the help.

  27. How great to find these posts! My dad was a camp counselor when young. He said they would sing this cute song at camp in the mess hall, with one table asking the question, and another table answering. I am a professional clown, and will use this at a public gathering where there are thousands of folk waiting in line for a barbecue dinner! Thanks, one and all, for your contributions!

  28. The Silly song of States was in the John Schaum piano series but I can’t remember if it was in Book A or Book B. I have an old copy of Book C and I’m thinking it wasn’t in there when I looked a few years ago.
    I loved that song when I was a kid and took piano lessons. I recall it was towards the end of the book on the right side of the page.
    I would love to have a copy of it too. But looking over your melody notes that you have on the website, it is just as I recall.
    Thanks

  29. I have a co worker Marilyn and every time I see her I think of this song but couldn’t remember any of the words with out struggling – I finally came up with 3 of the lines or 6 states total – thanks for this post. I remember signing with my grandma (who played piano for the silent movies) it was such fun.
    Thanks for the memories

  30. watching football and remembered the song. Here are all the words

    What did Delaware, boys?
    What did Delaware?
    What did Delaware, boys?
    What did Delaware?
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    That’s what she did wear.

    Why did Cali-phone ya,
    Why did Cali-phone?
    Why did Cali-phone ya,
    Was she all alone?
    She phoned to say “Hawaii”
    She phoned to say (“How-ah-yee”)
    She phoned to say “Hawaii”
    That’s why she did phone.

    Where has Oregon, boys,
    Where has Oregon?
    If you want Alaska,
    (I’ll-ask-a) where she’s gone.
    She went to pay her Texas
    She went to pay her Texas
    She went to pay her Texas,
    That’s where she has gone.

    What did Mississip, boys,
    What did Mississip?
    What did Mississip, boys,
    Through her pretty lips?
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    That’s what she did sip.

    How did Wiscon-sin, boys?
    She stole a New-brass-key,
    Too bad that Arkan-saw, boys,
    And so did Tenna-see.
    It made poor Flori-die, boys,
    It made poor Flori-die, you see,
    She died in Missouri, boys,
    She died in Missouri!

  31. Thank you all, for helping a 74 year old man recall some of the lines of a song that sure helped me to pas at least one test in the “old school” . It sure made learning the states more fun. As I remember our teacher suggested we sang the song to gather out on the play ground at recess. The test was just after that too short break in “bending the mind for advancement”
    I am Blessed to have a friend, Sam, that can find stuff on this electronic encyclopedia.
    Thank you again, and GOD Bless you real good.

  32. I have had this song rambling through my mind every now and then as I traveled across the U.S. My best remembrance of it is that it was song at campfire programs in Yosemite National Park with the audience responding to the question that the Ranger Naturalist had sung. Usually only two or three verses were used when the song was part of the program. The time was pre WW-II.

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