The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73808   Message #2085209
Posted By: Azizi
23-Jun-07 - 08:34 PM
Thread Name: Jody's children - kids' rhymes from military chant
Subject: RE: Jody's children - kids' rhymes from military chant
"Bang Bang Choo Choo Train" is a children's foot stomping cheer* that I first observed African American girls do in 1997 {Pittsburgh, PA area}.

Judging from the number of examples that I've received on my website Cocojams ,
"Bang Bang Choo Choo Train" now appears to be a fairly widely known cheerleader cheer. Apparently, "Bang Bang Choo Choo Train" is also often performed as a handclap rhyme, especially when its words are combined with a very popular rhyme "Brick Wall Water Fall" which was popularized and spread world wide by the 2003 movie Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star .

The basic words to the "Bang Bang Choo Choo Train" foot stomping cheer are:

Bang, Bang Choo Choo Train.
Watch Indonesia do her thang.
Soloist #1:
I can't.
Why not?
Soloist #1:
I can't.
Why not?
Soloist #1:
Because my back is achin.
{And} My bra's too tight.
My hips keep movin' from the left to the right
Her back is achin.
Her bra's too tight.
Her hips keep movin from the left to the right.

{repeat the entire cheer with the next soloist who says her name or nickname. Continue with this pattern until everyone has had one turn as soloist}
-African American girls ages 7-12 years old, Duquesne, Pennsylvania; 10/1997; Alafia Children's Ensemble {children's after-school program}; collected by Azizi Powell

Note: "train" is pronounced like "trahn" to rhyme with "thang" {which is the hip-hop pronunciation for "thing"}.


I've been trying to find source material for this cheer since 1997. I'm guessing that the "Bang Bang" part originally came from the adult rhyme "Bang Bang Lulu" @displaysong.cfm?SongID=477 . But where did the "booty shakin from the left to the right" part come from?

[I should interject here that my ten years informal research of children's rhymes & cheers-particulary those rhymes and cheers done among African American children/youth-has led me to conclude that contemporary children's rhymes and cheers aren't created from thin air. Children, teenagers {or somebody} usually combine fragments of material from various sources to make up children's rhymes & cheers. Many children's rhymes & cheers include lines from R&B songs, Pop songs and well as other musical genres, other children's rhymes {though not generally Mother Goose rhymes}, television commercials, tv character's lines, cheerleader cheers,etc etc etc.]

So it was with a great deal of interest that I read an example that Mducat member EuGene posted on 23 Jun 07 - 04:29 PM in this thead:

thread.cfm?threadid=2915&messages=92#2085062 "RE: Military Jodies?"

Two lines of that example "sound" a lot like lines from "Bang Bang Choo Choo Train". Those lines are:

"Your pants pulled up, your belt's pulled tight,
Your balls are swingin from left to right."

In response to another poster's query, EuGene indicated that he was "in the Army going through Basic and AIT in 1966 - 1967".

Thanks for posting that example, EuGene!

More research is needed to determine which came first-the children's cheer or the lines from the military jodie. But if I were a betting person-which I'm not-my money would be put on children picking up these lines from the military jody [chanted by someone who was in the military]. My guess is that after hearing those lines some child or teenager took them up for their own rhythmic use/s.

Since cheerleader cheers, foot stomping cheers, and handclap rhymes are mostly performed by girls, it makes sense that "your belt's too tight" would be changed to "my bra's too tight" {or "my skirt's too tight"}.

Also, since these cheers/rhymes are mostly performed by girls it stands to reason that "my balls swingin from left to right" would be changed to "my hip's shakin from left to right". Nowadays, it appears that that line is more often given as "my booty's shakin from left to the right" or "my butt's shakin from the left to the right." "Booty" or "butt" may have been the words that the girls really said in 1997, but they changed that word to "hips" when they recited in front of me and other adults, including some of their parents/guardians. Maybe we got the "clean" version...But maybe not. Maybe "hips" was the word that they always used. After all, they didn't mind saying "my bra's too tight" in front of their parents-and in front of the boys and men who were also present at that rehearsal...

I didn't think to ask whether they said any other word except "hips" and-unfortunately-I've lost touch with all of those girls.

However, though I'm sure that children and youth may not care about this, it seems to me to be little doubt that military chants {jodies} are another source of lines for children's rhymes & cheers.

* for more information on and examples of "foot stomping cheers", click Cocojams: Foot Stomping Cheers