Why Oh Why

A reader requested (months ago), for a set of simple chords to this Woody Guthrie song that they’d heard covered by Elizabeth Mitchell. These ones match how I sing it. If it doesn’t sound right to you, try D G and A as per the Rise Up Singing project.

I’m including only the first verse and chorus. For the full lyrics, head over to the official Guthrie site. And to hear it, check out the album Songs to Grow on For Mother and Child, or listen to a clip via Smithsonian Folkways.


Why Oh Why
G7
Why can't a dish break a hammer?
C             G7
Why oh why oh why?
C                         G7

Because a hammer's got a hard head
D                G7

Goodbye goodbye goodbye

G7
Why, oh why, oh why oh?
C              G7
Why oh why oh why?
C                G7

Because because because because
D                G7

Goodbye goodbye goodbye

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Sailing Sailing Over the Ocean

This gentle lullaby can be sung while rocking babies or playing pretend with preschoolers. I learned it from Kathy Reid-Naiman’s 2002 album, A Smooth Road to London Town, and you can listen to her version here. I believe this is another traditional tune, but always welcome credit corrections.

A number of my amazing library colleagues sing this at their baby or toddler storytimes, and one has kindly shared these chords. If you have a hard time singing high (as I often do), strum it with G/D/C instead.


Sailing Sailing Over the Ocean
C                G7       C

Sailing sailing, over the ocean
                  G7       C

Sailing, sailing, over the sea
                  G7       C

Sailing, sailing, over the water
F         G7      C

Sail back home to me

Verses
Floating, Swimming, Gliding, Flying...

Gilly Gilly Good Morning

This happy little morning song would be a great storytime opener, and my thanks to Jbrary for introducing me to it. Gilly Gilly Good Morning is cited as a traditional American tune in the sources I’ve found, but if you come across a credit for it, please let me know.

I prefer singing this song G/D, but it works with C/G7 or D/A7 too. If you’d like to play a slightly richer sound, Dany Rosevear at Singing Games for Children has a three chord version for you.


Gilly Gilly Good Morning
G
Gilly gilly gilly good morning
      D             G
Good morning, good morning
G
Gilly gilly gilly good morning
      D         G
Good morning to you

G

Mini mack mini mack mini mini mini mack
G                         D
Mini mack mini mack mini morning
D
Mini mack mini mack mini mini mini mack
D                         G
Mini mack mini mack mini morning

Pig on Her Head

This silly song has immediate toddler appeal. Throw a puppet up on your head while singing, and you’ll be golden. Pig on Her Head is by Laurie Berkner, from her 1998 album Buzz, Buzz. She plays this song with E/B7/A (as she’s kindly shared on her site), and I’ve transposed into our standard easy-ukulele chords. Head over to her site to read the rest of the original lyrics.

A couple of my creative and talented storytiming friends have been using this song in their programs, and now I’m keen to try it out myself. It could match well with Sean Bryan’s Girl and Her Gator/Boy and His Bunny books or Mo Willems’ There is a Bird On Your Head. If you have some felt hats (perhaps a set for little cat, little cat, are you in the ____ hat), then combine them with a face or two to make a great felt story (I’ve included my own felt & sharpie version below). Try the action song at the end if you need a challenge for school-aged kids. Thanks to Kate L. for thinking up the first two variations below, and Gina G. for the 3rd.


Pig on Her Head
C              G7

Laurie's got a pig on her head
               C

Laurie's got a pig on her head
               F

Laurie's got a pig on her head
     G7                C

She keeps it there all day



Baby Dressing Song
C            G7

Arjun has a sock on his foot
             C

Arjun has a sock on his foot
             F

Arjun has a sock on his foot
    G7                 C

He keeps it there all day

Verses
... toque on his head...
... a diaper on his bum...




Hats on Their Heads
  C                  G7

A builder wears this hat on her head
                      C

A builder wears this hat on her head
                      F

A builder wears this hat on her head
    G7                  C

She keeps it there all day

Verses
Princess, Chef, Ball Player, Pirate, Fire Fighter...



Movement Challenge Song
C                        G7

Yasmine can hop with a narwhal on her head
                         C

Yasmine can hop with a narwhal on her head
                         F

Yasmine can hop with a narwhal on her head
    G7                  C

She keeps it there all day

Verses
Dance, Skip, Twirl, Jump...

Take It Easy

Caspar Babypants’ Take It Easy is so soothingly satisfying, I’ll play it at home even when my child isn’t around. I enjoy the instrumental imagery of the original, but for storytime I wanted something that could involve the audience more, so I’ve swapped the actions for movements that toddlers can perform.

And as usual, I’ve significantly simplified the chords. Head on over to Caspar Babypants’ site to read the full lyrics and chords or to this site to hear a sample of the song. Make sure that your library holds a copy of the source album, Night Night! to put in your patron’s hands after you’ve sung it together. Also playable (and closer to the original) in G/D/Em.


Take It Easy
       C

Gonna clap my hands in the forest
                     G7

Clap my hands in the wood
       C  

Gonna clap my hands in the forest
                 G7        C

So the deer can feel real good
C

Oh oh, some say it's easy
                    Am

So take it easy for me
       C

Gonna clap my hands in the forest
                 G7        C

So the deer can feel real good

Verses
Gonna shake my shaker in the mountains, shake my shaker on the ground... So the bears make a growly sound
Gonna splash my toes in the water, splash my toes in the sea... So the fishes can dance with me
Gonna sing my song in the city, sing my song in the town... So the babies can all get down

Singin’ in the Rain

April is a wet month in my city, so I was appropriately thrilled to see Tim Hopgood’s stunningly illustrated picture book version of Singing in the Rain show up on my desk this week. And now I can’t recall why I’ve never sung this on a showery spring storytime day before.

There are additional lyrics, and some beautifully advanced arrangements out there, but for my purposes, two chords will do nicely. I’ve borrowed this version from the Vancouver Ukulele Circle Songbook. It also sounds nice if you play E7 and A.

Singin’ in the Rain is by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, written around 1929.


Singin’ in the Rain
C7   F

I'm singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain
                              C7

What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again

I'm laughing at clouds so dark up above
                              F

The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love

Let the stormy clouds chase, everyone from this place
                              C7

Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face

I walk down the lane with a happy refrain
                                  F

Just singin' and singin' in the rain

 

Row Row Row Your Boat

This selection of songs has flexible storytime uses. Travelling, Travelling would be perfect with a set of vehicle felts, Row It All Around with puppets, Rock Your Boat as a baby bounce, and Drive Your Truck as an action-bounce along the lines of Hurry Hurry Drive the Fire Truck.

For repetition-with-variation, try a few different versions during your storytime session or introduce a book like Jane Cabrera’s animal-themed Row Row Row Your Boat. Known sources are linked in titles.


Row Row Row Your Boat
C

Row, row, row your boat
C

Gently down the stream
C

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
G7             C

Life is but a dream



Rock Your Boat
C

Rock, rock, rock your boat
C

Gently to and fro
C

Look out, give a shout
G7                 C

Into the water you go!



If You See a Crocodile
C

Row, row, row your boat
C

Gently down the stream
C

If you see a crocodile
G7              C

Don't forget to scream!



Row It All Around
C
Row, row, row your boat
C

Row it all around
C

If you see a ______
G7             C

Make a ______ sound



I’m a Submarine
C

Row, row, row your boat
C

Underneath the stream
C

Ha ha, fooled you
G7          C

I'm a submarine!



Drive, Drive, Drive Your Truck
C

Drive, drive, drive your truck
C

All around the town
C

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
G7                C

Up the hills and down

Verses

Turn...the key/Make the engine roar...Let's go to the store
Press...the pedal/Give the engine gas...Now we’re going fast
Turn...the wheel/That is how we steer....Make a turn right here
Push...the brake/Make the truck slow down...Now we are in town



Travelling, Travelling
C

Row, row, row your boat
C

Gently round the lake
C

Travelling, travelling on the water
G7                  C

Boats are what you take

Verses

Drive...your car/Have a merry cruise... on the road/Cars are what you use
Fly...your plane/High up in the air... through the sky/Planes will get you there
Chug...your train/Chug along the track...on the rails/Trains go there and back
Stamp...your feet/Stamp them on the ground...on the paths/Walk to get around



Other Variations Include
Dino Dinosaur
Hug Your Bear
Ocean Row Row Row
Ride Your Sled
Shake Your Eggs