Rickety Tickety Tin


A humorous interlude from the pen of Tom Lehrer, of which Jon says, “This is a great favourite around the campfire of the FSCs, particularly with the younger children for some reason.” There are a couple more verses in Tom’s version, which he called The Irish Ballad, originally recorded in 1953. This Wiki link has the details, but note the cost and initially humble ambition sold on mail order. The songs were re-recorded live for Tom Leherer Revistited in 1960 and you’ll find the lyrics and a transcript of his witty introduction (although it certainly won’t read as well as it will plays) by following this link. I love Tom Lehrer’s stuff, he was a seriously clever man with a sadly short musical career (just 37 songs’ worth)and you can read all about him on Wiki should it take your fancy.


You can buy the September digital album now from all good download stores:


20 Responses to “Rickety Tickety Tin”

  1. Matthew Edwards says:

    Jon, you have a very wicked mind to sing this, and you fully deserve to be incarcerated in the Massachusetts State Home for the Bewildered*! This song makes me laugh every time! Brilliant!


    *For an explanation of this obscure Lehrer reference read the introduction to this song We Will All Go Together When We Go

    “Life is like a sewer; what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.”

  2. SRD says:

    Shame it’s not full length, I was looking forward to breaking out the gin.

  3. Nick Passmore says:

    i-tunes seems to be playing up again! Haven’t had this or yesterday’s (“Oats and Beans and Barley”) yet…
    And would it be possible to release the 7 songs from June on an EP on i-tunes etc. ?

  4. Simon says:

    Nick the plan is that the June songs will join the rest of next June’s to make that up to a full months worth, so I’m sorry you’ll have to wait although you’ll get them eventually.

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    A Musical Tragedy in Two Axe. Humour to deal with the horror of a Lizzie Boden – oops, sorry! – Borden type murder. No doubt about the sinister here &, coincidentally, she was from Massachusetts – bet Tom Lehrer knew that! She was also well-acquitted… like your execution of this song, Jon! SRD, have a gin anyway!

  6. Oxford Trunkles says:

    Tom Lehrer takes me back to my childhood as my dad used to have a recording of this that he would play to me and my brothers. I was shocked at how easily I remembered all the word on hearing it today. Signs of a misspent youn I wonder….

    Excellent choice.

  7. Nick Passmore says:

    Thanks for the update on June’s songs: no problem, well worth waiting for, I’m sure. Still no action on i-tunes with yesterday’s and today’s songs though… will keep trying!

  8. John Phipps says:

    I remember him saying it was getting impossible to satirize society as it was getting self satirizing. It has only gotten worse. He e was at MIT with a bunch of amazing brilliant math boffins.

  9. Nick Passmore says:

    “Bush Girl” and “Rickety Tickety Tin” (GREAT!!!) downloaded successfully now (itunes); but get the message that the URLs for “Oats and Beans and Barley” and “Barbaree” cannot be found on the server. Help!!

  10. Nick Passmore says:

    itunes sorted now: thanks very much! Whoa! Those Boden Brothers: what a mighty combination! Hope we’ll be hearing more of them on “A Folk Song A Day”!

  11. Lenora Rose says:

    A bit slower than I’m used to, but your voice is so expressive, it still works.

    There really do need to be more humorous songs about murder. Our folk circles tend to pair this up with Shel Silverstein’s “Welcome to our House”, but the only other we can ever remember is the obscure Neil Gaiman-penned Tea and Corpses.

  12. Lea says:

    The original version of this is hilarious, but this performance transforms it into something legitimately horrific, and I couldn’t even explain why, but I love it!

  13. Yehudit says:

    When I think of Tom Lehrer I think of Allan Sherman, who was another humorous and parodist songwriter of the mid-60s….. so that means ……you should sing “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.”

  14. Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    I shall view my daughter with extreme caution when next she visits

  15. Diana says:

    What a horrible woman Enjoyed itthe song really amusing.!

    Muzza I am sure you are safe your daughter would not do you in.

  16. Joe Fineman says:

    I first heard this song in 1954, sung by a young lady in the back of a truck. How miraculous it sounded in the Stuffy Fifties! The same year, my mother gave me Lehrer’s first record as a highschool graduation present, and there it was.

  17. Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Joe…………….aaaaarrrggghhh…..I would have been out of that truck quicker than you could say..Rickety tickety tin!!!

  18. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    I guess this is a shorter version as no mention of the father’s demise….or did she have a single parent family

  19. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Ok, OK…….just re-read Simon’s notes and checked the Tom L link….and poor old dad got it in the creek (unlike Janey’s friend with the brick)

  20. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Absolutely hate this song…. what was the author thinking of to write it…. some every-day, terrible happenings should just be reported and NOT sung about…. I hasten on to tomorrow’s great song ….. Ok, OK…I CAN JUMP AHEAD (364 more days if I want to.. so there!)

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