Find Children’s Songs For Anecdotes, More

By: Charles Bowen

While writing your news analysis about the bizarre set of circumstances that led to the city council’s current budget crisis, you realize that a quote from an old children’s song would be perfect at the top of your story.

Oh, you remember the one. It’s the song in which a man and woman talk about trying to fix a hole in the bucket. In each verse, a new excuse arises as to why the bucket still isn’t fixed (the straw that he needed to patch the bucket is too long, then the ax needed to cut the straw is too dull, and on and on.) The ancient folksong would be ideal as a clever parallel to the latest politics.

The trouble is you can’t remember enough of the song to quote it. What to do? Why, ask the Web, of course. A child-oriented site called KIDiddles is an ideal online resource for the lyrics to more than 2,000 children’s songs.

Visit the site at where the top section of the introductory screen invites you to visit “The Musical Mouseum.” (Hey, it’s a kids’ site, so you’ll have to endure these way-too-cute names.) On a subsequent screen, you have options to look up lyrics by:

* Alpha List, that is, an alphabetical arrangement by song title. You’ll be presented with a hyperlinked alphabet and you need to click the first letter of the title of the song you are seeking.

* Subject Index. Here the site provides a list of topics, including Traditional, Lullabies, Get Busy! (such as jump rope rhymes, circle games, and fingerplay), Learning (teaching the alphabet, counting, days of the week, and so on), Silly Nilly, Fun Food, Animals, Nature, Inspirational, Around the World, and New Compositions.

* Song Search, providing a limited search gateway for the database.

Song titles are hyperlinked in the resulting lists. Click any to see the full lyrics. Some of the songs also are accompanied by the symbol of a green musical note, meaning that a sample of the melody is available, usually patiently picked out on a keyboard. If you can’t find the song you’re seeking, you can click on the “Lookin’ for Lyrics” link on the main page to reach the site’s moderated discussion board.

Incidentally, the site also is quite aware of copyright issues related to children’s songs. Currently, some songs in the database are listed as “Copyright: Unavailable.” Sometimes these tunes also are listed with a “More Info” link which can be clicked to see relevant messages posted on the siscussion board, often listing the specific copyright holders and related material. Site administrator Terry Kluytmans of Victoria, British Columbia, notes that copyrighted tunes are added to the database when composers have given permission. Most notably, writer Kenny Loggins recently gave the site his OK to publish lyrics to a number of his songs, including “Return to Pooh Corner,” “Cody’s Song,” and “Watching the River Run.”

Besides, here are some other resources for lyrics and songs that you can use online for your writing and editing:

1. The Digital Traditions Folksongs Database, maintained by The Mudcat Cafe (, is a searchable resource for finding thousands of lyrics to songs in the public domain, as well as some contemporary folk songs.

2. The Lyric Library ( is a comprehensive gateway to lyric sites all around the Web. A navigation bar on the left side of the screen has links to topics such as Public Archives, Full-Text Searches, Blues, Children’s Songs, Country and Bluegrass, Hymns and Gospel, National Anthems, and more.

3. Finally, for some fun with lyrics, check out Kiss This Guy (, the ever-growing archive of misheard lyrics. The title comes from that classic mishearing of Jimi Hendrix’s line “Purple Haze” (“‘Cuse me while I kiss the sky.”) You can view the misquotes by song or artists and — for extra fun — read the embarrassed confessions of those who contribute the ear goofs. (It is amazing how many actually were misheard by ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends.)

To see Bowen’s last 10 columns, click here. Previous columns may be purchased in our paid archives. Search for “Bowen” in the “Author” field.

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