Non-Dorky Poll: Drinking Songs

I’m feeling pretty harried this week, because I’m teaching using a new curriculum, which requires all-new lecture slides and notes and homework assignments. I’m also going away this weekend, to Williamstown for the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of my college rugby club.

As a result, I’ve been losing more mental processor cycles than usual to thinking about my own college days, and remembering the lyrics to the dozens and dozens of songs I used to know. So, because it’s on my mind anyway, and because the mixing of college sports and alcohol would really cheese off the humorless scolds, here’s an audience poll question to fill some blog space while I frantically try to get two lectures ahead, because I don’t anticipate being in any shape to prep a class on Sunday night:

What’s your favorite drinking song?

This doesn’t have to be a traditional-type drinking song, along the lines of “Wild Rover” or that sort of thing– if you can’t have three beers without wanting to hear and sing along with “Sweet Home Alabama,” that works, too. Whatever you want to hear when you’re out boozing it up.

My answer actually has a tiny bit of science content:

As I said, I know a ton of rugby/ drinking songs, most of them more obscene than I’m willing to post here. I still find myself humming a few of them from time to time, often while in the lab.

My favorite single verse is probably this one (which is actually a double verse, but the chorus that would come after the second stanza was always dropped):

In the process of civilization
From anthropoid ape down to man
It’s been generally held that the Navy
Has buggered whatever it can.

But, the recent scientific researches
Of Darwin and Huxley and Hall
Have conclusively shown that the hedgehog
Has never been buggered at all.

So, we therefore feel our conclusion
Is incontrovertibly shown
That comparative safety on shipboard
Is held by the hedgehog alone

But why don’t they do it at amherst,
Like they do it at Harvard and Yale,
And also at Oxford and Cambridge
By shaving ths apines off his tail?

(The chorus is the usual collection of nonsense– “rump-titty-titty-ay!” etc. The amherst reference (Williams’s big rival) is obviously a local addition to some older source.)

This almost certainly isn’t the hedgehog song so often referenced in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, but I’ve always associated this verse with that. There are a couple dozen other verses for this, that I don’t have the time to type out this morning, but will be stuck in my head all day.

29 thoughts on “Non-Dorky Poll: Drinking Songs

  1. For me (as an alumnus of WVU) it has to be Country Roads by John Denver. But I must say that I am partial to anything by REM

  2. I don’t drink, but I was definitely about to mention “The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All”, being a die-hard Pratchett fan. I guess I’ll settle for “A Wizard’s Staff Has A Knob On The End”.

  3. Landlord fill the flowing bowl
    Until it doth run over,
    For tonight we’ll merry be,
    for tonight we’ll merry be,
    for tonight we’ll merry beeeeeeee,
    Tomorrow we’ll be sober!

  4. Beyond the obscene ones (aka North Atlantic Squadron), my classic drinking song goes:

    Goddamn them all. I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold, shed no tears! (Spill no beers!) I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier, the last of Barrett’s privateers

  5. For California, for California,
    The hills send back the cry,
    We’re out to do or die,
    For California, for California,
    We’ll win the game or know the reason why.

    California Drinking Song — no contest!

    (If I were non-partisan, I’d probably consider “Harbo & Samuelson”. But California Drinking Song is pretty darn good.)

  6. The Rugby Queen song (or, as I like to call it, how I met my wife!).

    Are you still playing Rugby? There is an excellent Master’s league. I was supposed to play this weekend, but there’s this thing called work…..

  7. In Heaven there is no beer
    (No beer?!)
    That’s why we drink it here
    And when we’re all gone from here
    Our friends will be drinking all the beer.

    In Heaven there is no wine
    (No wine?!)
    So we drink till we feel fine
    And when we leave this all behind
    Our friends will be drinking all the wine.

    In Heaven there is no fear
    (No fear)
    So we worry too much here
    And we drink ourselves full of beer
    To help us when we deal with the fear.

    In Heaven there are no drugs
    That’s why we hang with thugs
    And when the Lord pulls the plug
    All the thugs will still be selling drugs, yeah.

  8. I think the only “Drinking Song” I’ve ever acutally sung were some poorly remembered verses of Charlie Mops

  9. Hands down, the Scotsman song…Yes, I actually know all the words to it…

    Well a Scotsman clad in kilt left a bar on evening fair
    And one could tell by how we walked that he drunk more than his share
    He fumbled round until he could no longer keep his feet
    Then he stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street
    Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh ring di diddly I oh
    He stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street

    About that time two young and lovely girls just happend by
    And one says to the other with a twinkle in her eye
    See yon sleeping Scotsman so strong and handsome built
    I wonder if it’s true what they don’t wear beneath the kilt
    Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh ring di diddly I oh
    I wonder if it’s true what they don’t wear beneath the kilt

    They crept up on that sleeping Scotsman quiet as could be
    Lifted up his kilt about an inch so they could see
    And there behold, for them to see, beneath his Scottish skirt
    Was nothing more than God had graced him with upon his birth
    Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh ring di diddly I oh
    Was nothing more than God had graced him with upon his birth

    They marveled for a moment, then one said we must be gone
    Let’s leave a present for our friend, before we move along
    As a gift they left a blue silk ribbon, tied into a bow
    Around the bonnie star, the Scots kilt did lift and show
    Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh ring di diddly I oh
    Around the bonnie star, the Scots kilt did lift and show

    Now the Scotsman woke to nature’s call and stumbled towards a tree
    Behind a bush, he lift his kilt and gawks at what he sees
    And in a startled voice he says to what’s before his eyes.
    O lad I don’t know where you been but I see you won first prize
    Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh ring di diddly I oh
    O lad I don’t know where you been but I see you won first prize

  10. I lost my pants again, again
    I lost my pants again.
    I woke up at dawn, and they were gone.
    I lost my pants again.

    Once upon a time, there were actual verses, but only the chorus survives.

  11. From DaVinci’s Notebook:

    Gather ’round, ye lads and lasses, set ye for a while
    And hearken to me mournful tale about the Emerald Isle
    Let’s all raise our glasses high to friends and family gone
    And lift our voices in another Irish drinking song

    Consumption took me mother and me father got the pox
    Me brother drank the whiskey ’til he wound up in a box
    My other brother in the Troubles met with his demise
    My sister has forever closed her smiling Irish eyes

    Now everybody’s died
    So until our tears are dried
    We’ll drink and drink and drink and drink,
    and then we’ll drink some more
    We’ll dance and sing and fight
    until the early morning light
    Then we’ll throw up, pass out, wake up, and then go drinking once again

    Kenny was killed in Kilkenny and Claire, she died in Clare
    Tip from Tipperary died out in the Derry air
    Shannon jumped into the River Shannon back in June
    Ernie fell into the Erne, and Tom is in the Toome

    “Cleanliness is godliness” me Uncle Pat would sing
    He broke his neck a’slippin’ on a bar of Irish Spring
    O’Grady, he was 80 though his bride was just a pup
    He died upon the honeymoon when she got his Irish up


    Joe Murphy fought with Reilly near the banks of old Doneen
    He took out his shillelagh and he stabbed him in the spleen
    Crazy Uncle Mike believed he was a leprechaun –
    In fact he’s just a leper, and his arms and legs are gone

    When Timmy Johnson broke his neck it was a cryin’ shame
    He wasn’t really Irish, but he went to Notre Dame
    McNamara crossed the street and by a bus was hit
    But he was just a Scotsman, so nobody gave a (ARRGHH)


    Me drunken Uncle Brendan tried to drive home from the bar
    The road rose up to meet him when he fell out of his car
    Irony was what befell my great-grand Uncle Sam
    He choked upon the very last potato in the land

    Conor lived in Ulster town, he used to smuggle arms
    Until the British killed him and cut off his lucky charms
    And dear old Father Flanagan, who left the lord’s employ
    Drunk on sacramental wine, beneath the altar boy



    Someday soon I’ll leave this world of pain and toil and sin
    The Lord will take me by the hand to join all of me kin
    Me only wish is when the Savior comes for me and you

    (a tempo)

    He kills the cast of Riverdance, and Michael Flatley too

    CHORUS (2x)

  12. Dr. Pain: You think that asking about drinking songs is a *Non*-Dorky poll?

    It involves alcohol, and thus is inherently non-dorky. At least by the logic employed by frat boys and rugby players…

    “Dorky Poll” topics are restricted to science and engineering-related issues, and possibly SF fandom.

  13. Its all for me grog, me jolly jolly grog
    All for me beer and tobacco
    well I spent all me tin
    on the lassies drinkin’ gin
    far across the western ocean I must wander

    Where are me boots, me noggin’ noggin’ boots
    They’re all gone for beer and tobacco
    For the heels they are worn out
    and the toes are kicked about
    And the soles are looking out for better weather

    Where is me shirt, my noggin’, noggin’ shirt?
    It’s all gone for beer and tobacco
    For the collar is all worn,
    and the sleeves they are all torn
    And the arse is looking out for better weather

    I’m sick in the head and I haven’t been to bed
    Since first I came ashore with me plunder
    I’ve seen centipedes and snakes and me head is full of aches
    And I have to take a path for way out yonder

    Plus some bawdier versus I can’t seem to remember at the moment…

  14. My one regret is that I never could convince my grandfather to teach me the “other” lyrics to “Mademoiselle from Armentiers”, a WW I drinking song.

    My dad taught me several from his frat days, which became scouting or car trip songs. One goes “Drink drink drink drink/ drank drank drank drank/ drunk drunk drunk drunk/ drunk last night. Drunk the night before. Gonna get drunk tonight like I never got drunk before. Cause when I’m drunk I’m as happy as can be/ cause I’m a member of the souse family. Now the souse family is the best family/ that ev-er came ov-er from old Germany. There’s the highland dutch and the low land dutch/ the Rotterdam dutch and the other damn dutch. Sing Glor-i-ous, Glor-i-ous/ one keg of beer for the four of us. And glory be to god that there are no more of us/ Cause one of us could drink it all alone …. Darn near.” Yes, my Mom put up with this. There are others, including one that started with “I’m a hayseed, my hair is seaweed” that might have come from his Navy days. Need to ask him about that!

    One of my own favorites from one pub I was at is
    Caviar comes from a virgin sturgeon/ A virgin sturgeon is a very fine fish/ No good sturgeon wants to be a virgin/ That’s why caviar is such a rare dish.

    However, my physics buddies more likely to sing “99 bottles of beer” or “In heaven there is no beer” if we sang at all. We mostly told bad jokes.

  15. The venerable “To Anacreon in Heaven”

    though I’ve heard that the tune also goes by another name…

  16. A Bottle of the Best
    Words and Music by : Jack Foley

    When your time o’ work is done, and you’ve earned yourself some fun,
    In the pub you start to sup your drink, and clinkin’ every cup,
    Through the pint-pots you’re perusing,
    And you’re boozin ’till you’re snoozin’
    And you’re losin’ all your senses to the drink!
    But when all these folks so prim are swiggin’ swill up to the brim,
    Wi’ nips o’ gin and numbered Pim’s wi’ sugar rubbed around the rim,
    Let them drink it till they drop, for the sly besotted Scot,
    He’ll be breakin’ out a bottle o’ the best!

    Aye, to hell wi’ all the rest, give me a bottle o’ the best,
    The amber bead I’ll down wi’ speed, it’s not half bad taste or waste, just greed.
    And a whiskey still I’ll kill, I’ll drink my fill and if I spill a gill,
    You know I will, I’ll lick it off the floor.
    I’ll not touch Teacher’s, Grant’s, or Haig,
    Give me Bowmore or Laphroiag,
    Glen Farclass in a glass, well you can throw the top away.
    For it’s no use to pretend that you’ll need the cork again,
    When you broken out a bottle of the best.

    And the English like their ale, warm and flat straight out the pail,
    They aye slitter wi’ their bitter, that would slaughter Jack the Ripper,
    And they sip their cider rough, they sniff their snuff and huff and puff
    And as if that’s not enough they start to sing,
    Of when Jone’s Ale Was New, and John Barleycorn’s Fine Brew,
    Fathom the Bowl, the Barley Moe, Bring Us a Barrel, just a few,
    But their songs are far surpassed by the tinkle in the glass,
    When you’ve broken out a bottle of the best!

    And the Irish wi’ their Pride o’ Erin think they can deride
    Our golden water wi’ their patter when they’re out on the batter,
    Sixteen hundred pints of stout, a drinkin’ bout without a doubt,
    And if they’ve not got the gout, they start to dance.
    To Father O’Flynn, and Larry O’Gaff, Biddy the Bowwife for a laugh,
    The Young May Moon, The Garryowen,
    The Blackbird Drives them daft
    But their jigs have no appeal to the Scot who like to reel
    When he’s broken out a bottle of the best!

    Aye, a bottle of the best, that’s what it is, no idle jest,
    No Mickey Finn, no bathtub gin, no rotgut wine that tastes like Vim,
    Have no fear it’s not like beer, malt whiskey’s strong and bright and clear.
    And it’s also bloody dear, but what the hell!
    And it belts you in the belly, like a heavyweight Lochgelly,
    A glow begins to grow, six in a row turns you to jelly,
    As you fall down in a heap, then you dream perchance to sleep,
    For you’ve broken out a bottle of the best!

    Nip – shot; Teacher’s, Grant’s, Haig – blended whiskeys
    Bowmore, Laphroig, Glenfarclass – single malt Scotch whiskey
    Slitter – make a mess, Bitter – English heavy beer
    Jones Ale Was New, etc. – English drinking songs
    Batter – a binge, Father O’Flynn, etc. – Irish dance tunes
    Vim – bathroom cleanser, Lochgelly – a leather strap for
    corporal punishment in Scottish schools

  17. The Engineers’ Drinking Song, aka Lady Godiva

    We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers
    We can, we can, we can, we can, demolish forty beers
    Drink rum, drink rum, drink rum all day, and come along with us
    ‘Cause we don’t give a damn for any old man who don’t give a damn for us!

    Godiva was a lady who through Coventry did ride
    To show the royal villagers her fine and pure white hide
    The most observant man of all, an engineer of course,
    Was the only one who noticed that Godiva rode a horse

    There are many more verses, some PG, many NC-17, several dedicated to ribbing a certain highfalutin university in Harvard Square. Click the link on my name for details. One specifically is about a physicist:

    A Physics man from MIT went out and drank his fill.
    And then came to a strip joint, ’cause he had some time to kill.
    The motions that he witnessed there excited all his nerves,
    And he filled eleven napkins with equations of the curves.

  18. That DaVinci fella must have been Irish then. Tis a beautiful song Paul, and I’d like it sung at me funeral too.

  19. Hunting for a song I learned in the 1940s, Google brought me to this page. #19 has most of it. My father taught me the following, the first part, missing from #19’s account, is sung to an opera tune (part of the anvil chorus, I think). I then proceeded to sing it on stage at summer camp when I was four, to the laughter of all the adults present. The words I learned follow:

    I think it’s time we had a drink.
    I think it’s time we had a drink.
    I think it’s time we had a drink.
    Time we had a darn good drink drink drink drink
    Drank drank drank drank
    Drunk drunk drunk drunk.
    Drunk last night.
    Drunk the night before.
    I’m gonna get drunk tonight like I never got drunk before.
    For when I’m drunk I’m as happy as can be,
    For I’m a member of the souse family.
    Now the souse family is the best family.
    The best family to sail the cider sea.
    There’s the highland Dutch, the low land Dutch,
    The Rotterdam Dutch and the Mmm-Mmm Dutch (remember, I was four).
    Sing glorious, sing glorious.
    One cake (keg) of beer for the four of us.
    Glory to heaven be there are no more of us
    So the four of us can drink it all alone lone lone lone
    Foam foam foam foam
    Home home home home
    Bed bed bed bed
    Sleep sleep sleep sleep

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