“Kemo Kimo”


Non-ballad. Some texts have brief stories (e.g. about "darkies" ten feet tall and too big for their beds), but the basic characteristic is the nonsense refrain pattern: sing song kitty kitchie kimeo / kemo kimo, Delaware, me hi me ho and in comes Sally...


There is a songsheeet on the American Memory website which credits authorship to Charles White and states that the song was regularly sung by Dan Emmett; unfortunately, it is undated. - PJS

Several of these texts, such as Lawrence Older's "Frog in the Spring," have lyrics reminiscent of "Frog Went A-Courting," raising the possibility that this is a sort of a by-blow of that song, and some including Roud lump them.

The notes in Brown, in fact, state that this piece is a minstrel adaption created by Sam Cowell some time around 1850. (On this topic, see the notes to "Billy Barlow (II)"). Cohen accepts this attribution, though Christy and Wood claim that theirs is "the only authentic version." It mentions the frog only briefly in the third stanza, and in a way not at all reminiscent of "Frog Went A-Courting."

These sundry minstrel songs, however, have little plot and are really just thematic verses about animals. It appears that the two combined by mixture, rather than separated as a result of pieces breaking off. As a result, I classify them separately from "Frog...," with the understanding that this is a classification of the extremes. One should check the cross-references for related songs.

Lena Bourne Fish's version, collected by the Warners in 1941, has the extraordinary property of using only three notes of the major scale: Do re mi.

Roud separates the Ritchie "Bandyrowe" texts into its own number (#7402). The difference, though, is only one of name (apart from the two verses Jean Ritchie made up); her version is a fairly pure example of the "Kitty Alone" type, and I classify it here accordingly. - RBW

Cross references


  • Lawrence Older, "Frog in the Spring" (on LOlder01)
  • Prairie Ramblers, "Beaver Creek" (c. 1935; on CrowTold02)


  1. Randolph 282, "There Was an Old Frog" (2 texts plus an excerpt and a fragment, 2 tunes)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 239-241, "There Was an Old Frog" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 282A)
  3. Belden, pp. 494-499, "The Frog's Courtship" (7 texts in 3 groups, 2 tunes; several of the texts are short, and IB at least appears to be "Kemo Kimo")
  4. BrownIII 120, "The Frog's Courtship" (3 texts in the appendix to this song)
  5. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 244-248, "The Frog He Went A-Courting" (3 texts; the third, with local title "The Gentleman Frog" and tune on pp. 420-421, is probably this piece the first two texts are "Frog Went A-Courting")
  6. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 156-157, "Cree-Mo-Cri-Mo-Dorro-Wah" (1 text plus a fragent, 1 tune); also p. 201 (no title) (1 fragment); also p. 285, "Keemo Kimo" (1 text, the Christy/Wood version)
  7. SharpAp 221, "The Frog in the Well" (4 texts, 4 tunes); 242, "The Opossum" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 1, "Farm Life Song" (1 text); p. 230, "The Frog and the Mouse" (1 fragment, probably this)
  9. Ritchie-Southern, p. 67, "Bandyrowe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Brewster 78, "Keemo-Kimo" (3 fragments)
  11. Eddy 45, "The Opossum" (2 fragments, 2 tunes)
  12. Linscott, pp. 204-206, "Frog in the Well" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Creighton-Maritime, pp. 132-133, "Frog in the Well"; p. 135, "Get to Bed" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  14. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 84, "Kitty Alone and I" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Warner 68, "The Bull Frog" (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #69, pp. 77-79, "(There was a frog liv'd in a well)" (a complex composite with a short version of "Frog Went A-Courting" plus enough auxiliary verses to make an almost complete "Kemo Kimo" text)
  17. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 193, "(There dwelt a puddy in a well)" (1 text, very long, containing a full "Frog Went A-Courting" version plus sundry "Kemo Kimo" type verses)
  18. Gilbert, p. 42, "Polly Won't You Try Me O" (1 fragmentary text)
  20. Roud #16
  21. BI, R282


Alternate titles: “Sing Song Kitty”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1854 (Christy & Wood, _New Song Book_)
Found in: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar)