Little Bugs Have Littler Bugs

In 1993, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman released an album containing children’s songs and it was titled Not For Kids Only.  This album included the traditional lighthearted ditty ‘There Ain’t No Bugs On Me’, and their version seems to be based on the Fiddlin’ John Carson & His Virginia Reelers song, which was recorded it in 1928.  A popular version of this song was published in 1923 by Wendell W. Hall, which contains very different lyrics.  At this time, the Ku Klux Klan attained great influence in the Southeast and Midwest, Billy Sunday was a popular evangelist, and the Scopes trial turned Darwinian biology into a courtroom circus.  “The night was dark and drizzly.  The air was full of sleet.  The old man joined the Ku Klux.  And Ma she lost her sheet.  Billy Sunday is a preacher.  His church is always full.  For the neighbors gather from miles around.  To hear him shoot the bull.  The monkey swings by the end of his tail.  And jumps from tree to tree.  There may be monkey in some of you guys.  But there ain’t no monkey in me.”

This song was popular with Boy Scouts when they were camping and it is clearly a modification of ‘It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More’, which was a hit in the US and also in Britain in the 1920s.  This song mentions flies, the Juney bug, a lightning bug, a bed bug, mosquitos, roaches, fleas and many other cute and interesting stuff.  “Oh, there ain’t no bugs on me, on me.  There ain’t no bugs on me.  There may be bugs on some of you mugs.  But there ain’t no bugs on me.  Oh there ain’t no flies on me, on me.  There ain’t no flies on me.  There may be flies on some of you guys.  But there ain’t no flies on me.
Well, the Juney bug comes in the month of June.  The lightning bug comes in May.  Bed bug comes just any old time.  But, they’re not going to stay.  Well, a bull frog sittin’ on a lily pad.  Looking up at the sky.  The lily pad broke and the frog fell in.  He got water all in his eye.  There ain’t no frogs on us.  There ain’t no frogs on us.  There might be frogs on some of you dogs, But there ain’t no frogs on us.

Mosquito he fly high.  Mosquito he fly low.  If old mosquito lands on me.  He ain’t a gonna fly no mo’.  A peanut sittin’ on a railroad track.  His heart was all a flutter.  Along come a choo-choo on the track.  Toot! Toot! Peanut butter!  A cow walked on the railroad track, the train was coming fast.  The train got off the railroad track to let the cow go past!  As I went walking through the woods.  Humming a tune so gaily.  The wind come whistling through the trees.  And froze my ukulele.  Oh there ain’t no lobsters on me.  There, ain’t no lobsters on me.  There may be lobsters On some of you mobsters.  But there ain’t no lobsters on me.

Oh it ain’t gonna rain no more no more.  It ain’t gonna rain no more.  How in the heck can I wash my neck?  When it ain’t gonna rain no more?  Well little bugs have littler bugs.  Up on their backs to bite’em.  And the littler bugs have still littler bugs.  And so ad infinitum.  We had a cat down on our farm.  It had a ball of yarn.  When those little cats were born.  They all had sweaters on.  She lay down by the sewer.  And by the sewer she died.  And at the coroner’s inquest.  They called it sewer side.  We had a goat down on our farm.  It ate up old tin cans.  When those little goats were born.  They came in Ford sedans.

Some people say that fleas are black.  But I know that ain’t so.  ‘Cause Marry had a little lamb.  Whose fleece was white as snow.  Mary had a little lamb, so goes the tale of yore.  She loved that little lamb so much, she passed the plate for more.  I woke up in the morning, I glanced upon the wall.  The roaches and the bedbugs were having a game of ball.  The score was six to nothing, the roaches were ahead.  A bedbug hit a home run and knocked me out of bed!  The chamber maid came to my bed.  Get up you lazy sinner.  We need the sheets for table cloths.  And it’s almost time for dinner.

Jack and Jill went up the hill.  To try out Jack’s new flivver.  The car broke down a mile from town.  And dumped them in the river.  A doctor fell into a well and broke his collar bone.  We think that he should tend the sick and leave the well alone.  A farmer slipped on the old barn roof when rotten boards gave way, And as he fell, he shrugged and said, ‘It’s time to hit the hay.’  Humpty Dumpty fell right down and landed on his head.  So, all the horses and the men had scrambled eggs and bread.”

This song ‘There Ain’t No Bugs On Me’ was arranged and performed by Garcia and Grisman and then it was made into a picture-book by illustrator Bruce Whatley, which is said to be suitable for kids aged 3-8.  Whatley, previously teamed with Garcia and Grisman for The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and here he shows the bears as musicians heading out on tour and meeting a variety of insects and other creatures along the way.  Their leader, a bespectacled, white-muzzled bruin sporting a guitar with a rainbow strap, is a ringer for Garcia, and indeed, no bugs ever seem to land on him.  The bears are accompanied by a group of suitcase-toting insects whose antics provide most of the visual interest.

Oh there ain’t no bugs on me
There ain’t no bugs on me
There may be bugs on some of you mugs
But there ain’t no bugs on me

Well, the Juney bug comes in the month of June
The lightning bug comes in May
Bed bug comes just any old time
But, they’re not going to stay

Oh there ain’t no bugs on me
There ain’t no bugs on me
There may be bugs on the rest of you mugs
But there ain’t no bugs on me

Well, a bull frog sittin’ on a lily pad
Looking up at the sky
The lily pad broke and the frog fell in
He got water all in his eye…ball

Oh there ain’t no bugs on me
There ain’t no bugs on me
There may be bugs on some of you mugs
But there ain’t no bugs on me

[Spoken: “Get away from me you horse fly”]

Mosquito he fly high
Mosquito he fly low
If old mosquito lands on me
He ain’t a gonna fly no mo’

Oh there ain’t no bugs on me
There ain’t no bugs on me
There may be bugs on the rest of you mugs
But there ain’t no bugs on me

A peanut sittin’ on a railroad track
His heart was all a flutter
Along come a choo-choo on the track
Toot! Toot! Peanut butter!

Oh there ain’t no bugs on me
There ain’t no bugs on me
There may be bugs on some of you mugs
But there ain’t no bugs on me

Well little bugs have littler bugs
Up on their backs to bite ‘em
And the littler bugs have still littler bugs
And so ad infinitum

Oh there ain’t no bugs on me
There ain’t no bugs on me
There may be bugs on the rest of you mugs
But there ain’t no bugs on me

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the theme is Bugs, Insects.

22 thoughts on “Little Bugs Have Littler Bugs

  1. haha! Got some giggles from these – I like both very much. Seems I’d heard parts of it way way back when I was a kid? The little puppy commercial is a good one. 🙂

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  2. Fun song! 🎶💃🏼
    My daughters kindergarten teacher used to sing the “How in the heck can I wash my neck” part, then follow it with another “it Ain’t gonna rain…etc… How in the dickins can I water my chickens if it ain’t gonna rain no more”
    I bet there are lots of other verses floating around.

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    1. I don’t think that it was a good seller and I saw the CD on Amazon for $79.90, which is a bit too high of a price for me. Some day I may get the Shady Grove CD and the prices vary on this record a lot, but it is about half the price.

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  3. I’ve heard this song before. I don’t think I heard their version. I remember the commercial but I heard the song before then. It might have been the John Carson version? Really good pick, Jim.

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