The Words

Wapaloosie

Wapaloosie climbing up a tall spruce tree
Hundred fifty feet in the air
Eagle flying by says, Mercy me
How did you get up there?

Wapaloosie climbing up an old flagpole
In the square in the middle of town
Squirrel looks up and says, Bless my soul
How do you not slide down?

Wapaloosie climbing up a sheer cliff wall
On a moonlit night in July
Martins in their nests say, Don't you fall -
How did you get so high?

Wapaloosie climbing down a jack-pine stump
Just a foot from the ground to the top
Field mouse says, You might as well jump
Don't be scared of the drop!

-- scat/lilt --

Wapaloosie climbing up a hugag's side
On a rainy night in the dark
Hugag says, Hey, that's my hide
Did you think it was pine-tree bark?

Wapaloosie climbing up a waterfall
In the spring when the floodwaters swell
Walleye says, Don't that beat all
Even salmon don't do so well

Wapaloosie climbing up a cantaloupe tree
On a fine fall morning in the mist
Woodpeckers watching can't believe what they see
'Cause cantaloupe trees don't exist!

Shagamaw Shanty

As I was out walking the tote-road one day
A fresh set of moose tracks I saw on my way
I paid them no mind for they hardly are rare
But a hundred yards later they turned into bear

And it's walking the tote-road so free and so fine
Walking the tote-road 'mid the aspen and pine

These bear tracks continued a quarter mile more
At that point they changed into moose like before
But a quarter mile on they were bear tracks again
'It's a queer sort of critter' was what I said then

And it's walking the tote-road so free and so fine
Walking the tote-road 'mid the aspen and pine

I heard tell down in Maine of a beast with a track
Like a bear in the front and a moose in the back
And just like surveyors they pace down the trails
But I never put too much stock in those tales

And it's walking the tote-road so free and so fine
Walking the tote-road 'mid the aspen and pine

So I paced off the distance 'til moose tracks began
It was eighty rods more, give or take half a span
I lengthened my stride with the hope to catch sight
Of this hoofed and pawed beast that goes walking upright

And it's walking the tote-road so free and so fine
Walking the tote-road 'mid the aspen and pine

I rounded a bend and before me I saw
A furry brown frame as it lifted a paw
It had antlers and bear claws and hooves in the air
But it leapt out of sight when it spotted me there

And it's walking the tote-road so free and so fine
Walking the tote-road 'mid the aspen and pine

You may talk of your Gryphons and Centaurs and such
And about all those critters I couldn't say much
There's figments to fill all the books on a shelf
But there's shagamaws out there, for I saw one myself

And it's walking the tote-road so free and so fine
Walking the tote-road 'mid the aspen and pine

Splintercat

Up near the tops of the white pine trees
Jump down, splintercat, jump down, splintercat
You sit right down and you watch for bees
Jump down, splintercat, jump on down

When you see them going into their hollow-tree hive
Jump down, splintercat, jump down, splintercat
You run down a limb with a bound and a dive
Jump down, splintercat, jump on down

Your skull's so hard and your aim's so good
Jump down, splintercat, jump down, splintercat
You smash that tree into kindling wood
Jump down, splintercat, jump on down

Scatter all the bees and the splinters likewise
Jump down, splintercat, jump down, splintercat
Sit and lick your paws of your honey-sweet prize
Jump down, splintercat, jump on down

When it's all gone you climb down and then
Jump down, splintercat, jump down, splintercat
Find another tree and start over again
Jump down, splintercat, jump on down

Up near the tops of the white birch trees
Jump down, splintercat, jump down, splintercat
You sit right down and you watch for bees
Jump down, splintercat, jump on down

Hidebehind

When Johnny was a young lad he lived beside a wood
And when he asked to play there his father said he could
Said, If you glimpse a Hidebehind I'll tell you what to do
You shout out loud and strong so it won't come after you

You sing:
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, hide behind a stone
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, leave me alone!

The Hidebehind's as strange a beast as you will never see
Before you get a look at it, it's gone behind a tree
But if it's mad or hungry or you stumble on its den
That's when it takes you sudden and you won't be seen again

So sing:
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, hide behind a stone
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, leave me alone!

Now Johnny he grew up to swing a double-bitted axe
He could fell a pine tree in half a dozen whacks
If he thought he saw a hidebehind he knew just what to say
He'd call out cheerful as you please and then be on his way

He'd sing:
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, hide behind a stone
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, leave me alone!

As Johnny and his shantyboys were working in the pines
He nearly saw a Hidebehind and recognized the signs
Now Johnny had his axe and he felt big and safe and strong
Thought he'd tease it just a little bit, and that's where he went wrong

He sang:
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, hide behind a tree
Hide, hide, Hidebehind, can't catch...

Shep and the Hodag

Gene Shepard was a timber cruiser, Rhinelander way
He met a fierce and fearsome creature walking out one day
It was green with tusks and claws and spikes and horns on its head
"I'll find a way to catch it live," was what Shep said [2x]

Bill Beers, Ed Forbes, and Lake Shore Kearney lent a hand
The druggist, John Reardon, brought chloroform as planned
They talked it out beforehand, each one knew his part
When you go to catch a hodag, you have to be smart [2x]

For a hodag is a rough and ready son of a gun
It'd make Calvin Coolidge change his mind and choose to run
It eats water snakes and turtles that it catches by night
(And) bulldogs of a Sunday, as long as they're white [2x]

Now Shep and his comrades brought it back safe and sound
And it wasn't long before their catch was locally renowned
When they showed it at the county fair at ten cents a head
Five thousand people came to see as news of it spread [2x]

But there's some say it was bear claws and a bullhide and horns on a pine stump frame
And the Minnesota hodag has nothing the same but the tusks and the name
For that kind dines on porcupines and grubs at the roots of their trees 'til they fall
But the whole truth of the hodag maybe nobody knows at all...

The Smithsonian sent naturalists to see what it was
But Shep said, Keep your distance, don't go near because
It's savage when provoked and the catch there this:
It's up to the hodag what provocation is [2x]

It's seven feet of muscle with the odor of a tomb
Its scent resembles buzzard meat combined with skunk perfume
Its eyes glow green and baleful; you'll find it burning bright
In among the big pines of the forests of the night [2x]

Now the forests of the Northland are broad and they're green
They're home to creatures great and small, the like you've never seen
You may talk of argopelters and whimpuses and such
But if you haven't seen a hodag, you haven't seen much [2x]

Squonk Waltz

n the brackish grey marshlands where nobody goes
That's where the squonks make their dwelling
Just what they do there, there's nobody knows
But that doesn't stop some folks from telling

Now squonks are all homely and scruffy and shy
They don't like to see their reflection
And if they should happen to catch someone's eye
They dissolve into tears and dejection

So it's sing to your squonk, songs of courage and cheer
Let it know you're glad that it's there
Never set it in front of a stare or a jeer
Lest your squonk should sink into despair

They're demanded at carnivals, wanted at zoos
For public exposed exhibition
But the squonk's own distinctive response to the blues
Is its means to avoid that position

And many's the hunter and trapper who's learned
When he thought the squonk safe in his clutches
That a tear-sodden tow-sack is all that returned
From the marsh with its midges and rushes

So it's sing to your squonk, songs of courage and cheer
Let it know you're glad that it's there
Never set it in front of a stare or a jeer
Lest your squonk should sink into despair

If you throw a poor squonk in a bag or a sack
And don't pay any mind how it cries
Before you've gone too many miles down the track
You'll be in for a soggy surprise

For a squonk in extremis dissolves into tears
In a concrete and literal fashion
Leaving only saltwater as it disappears
From a captor who shows no compassion

So it's sing to your squonk, songs of courage and cheer
Let it know you're glad that it's there
Never set it in front of a stare or a jeer
Lest your squonk should sink into despair

Sidehill Gougers

Sidehill gougers on the mountainside
Madiretan dans ladiré
One way they go both far and wide
Madiretan dans ladiré
The legs uphill are short and strong; on the side downhill they grow them long
For the level ground they are made all wrong
Madiretan dans ladiré

Legs long enough to reach the ground
Downhill they roll if they turn around
But when they are turned and lined up right, to see them go is sheer delight
Their leaps and bounds are a wondrous sight

When an east- and a west-bound gouger meet
They cannot turn back and keep their feet
They may squeeze past or else collide; they might butt heads until they slide
Or a clever one may step aside

The tale is told on the plains below
Of the way in pairs that the gougers go
A left-and a right-legged gouger lean with short legs dangling in between
'Til they reach a mountain or ravine
Madiretan dans ladiré

Hoop Snakes

Now the blizzard in the spring of eighteen hundred ninety-two
Was the worst one that we had since eighty-eight
But it was later on that springtime under skies of sunny blue
Came the events that I'm commencing to relate

For
there
were
Hoop snakes in the woods and rollin' up and down the trails
Hoop snakes in the bunkhouse just a-sharpenin' up their tails
Hoop snakes in the kitchen eatin' bacon by the pound
For their nest was where a ninety-foot white pine tree came down

There was me and old Jan Anderssen, Tim Haney and some more
We were cutting in a tall white pine stand
When a ninety-footer fell and there were hoop snakes by the score
And they hissed as they rolled out to beat the band

And there were...

Now a hoop snake is the darnedest sight you'll ever hope to see
Though you're better off to hope you never do
It twists to make a circle two foot wide or maybe three
With a stinger on its tail to pierce you through

And there were...

We were sitting on a rooftop trying to think of what to do
When Mike Murphy up and said he had a plan
Float a man down the river on a raft or a canoe
Send him west to get the .22 Man

And there were...

Well the hoop snakes must have heard 'cause they set up a frightful hiss
And a knot of them rolled off toward their den
And I'm pleased to let you know that from that day 'til this
We haven't seen a scale of one again

And there were...

('.22 Man' final chorus, courtesy of Todd Menton)
Roll, roll, roll you little hoop snakes

Roll as fast as you can
Roll all the way to to Colorado if you want to get away from the .22 Man

Snow Snakes

Should you feel something catching your foot in the snow
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing pale snakes below
It is snow snakes that coil round your heel and your toe
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing snakes beneath the snow

Now your boot is held fast and it leaves your foot bare
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing pale snakes below
You must dig for your boot with one foot in the air
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing snakes beneath the snow

Now your boot is back on but they'll give you a fright
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing pale snakes below
With their red snow snake eyes that shine out in the night
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing pale snakes beneath the snow

You must climb up a tree 'til the snakes go away
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing pale snakes that slide below
Then hurry you home to explain your delay
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing snakes beneath the snow

Oh the snow as it blows, it will hiss on the ground
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing pale snakes below
And the snow snakes they laugh with that very same sound
Sing, snow snakes are twining, sing snakes beneath the snow


'Mossa på bro' - traditional Swedish langdans

Om jag vore så gammal som mossa på bro
Sjung hoppfadiradiralla,
Sjung hoppfadiradirejn
aldrig jag sätter tro till flickornas ord
Sjung hoppfadi, hoppfadi, hoppfadiradirej

The Gobbledegook (Hecky Krasnow)

When I was young and had no sense
I crawled through a hole in the backyard fence
I crawled right through and there I spied...
The same size hole on the other side!

I called my ma, I called my pa
They said, my gosh, how brave you are!
For they could see when they took one look
That hole was made by the Gobbledegook.

Now the Gobbledegook is a rare old bird
He's never seen but he's always heard
He listens to you speak and then
He says the same thing back again

he listens by night, he listens by day
It doesn't matter what you say
He writes it down in a little book
And reads it back in Gobbledegook.

So be careful, son, my daddy said
For they've got a bounty on his head
You catch him live and what'll they do
They'll give you a cage in the county zoo

They'll give you silver, give you gold
Give you hair when you grow bald
So I decided by hook or crook
That I would capture the Gobbledegook.

So I took my popgun and my sling
My old hound dog and everything
And crept along the garden wall
Imitating his mating call

I whispered high, I whispered low
With a hay-foot, straw-foot, do-si-do
And suddenly from his secret nook
The answer came from the Gobbledegook!

I let fly with a Bang Bang Bang
And the echo roared and the welkin rang
When I came to I'm proud to tell
That hole was gone and the fence as well!

And high and low and in between
We couldn't find a smithereen
No matter where we tried to look
There was nothing left of that Gobbledegook...

But sometimes now, so I've been told
When the moon is high and the wind is cold
Just listen close and you will hear
The Gobbledegook still prowling near!

I call him high, I call him low
With a hay-foot, straw-foot, do-si-do
And sometimes from his secret nook
He answers me in Gobbledegook.

Tailypo

Old man Stone went to live all alone on a mountainside in the woods
He went to get away from the things people say and the way their minds are fixed on their goods
He had three dogs for hunting and for company and he always called them the same
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico and all of his three dogs came
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico and all of his three dogs came

Some weeks before the snow his supplies were running low; he still could feed his dogs but not so well
The sun had gone down; it was too late to walk to town; he thought tomorrow he'd take in some herbs to sell
So he got down his gun and said, We'll catch a rabbit then, have us a stew all the same
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico and all of his three dogs came
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico and all of his three dogs came

They hunted all around but not a rabbit could be found, down the hill and up the brushy riverside
Just past full night a shadowed shape came into sight with wild green eyes, a great long tail, and brindled hide
The old man fired; it squalled and left its tail behind. He said, I wish I had better aim
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico and all of his three dogs came
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico and all of his three dogs came

So what could he do but put the tail in the stew? He shared it out; they all went full to bed
He awoke in a fright in the darkest of the night to a growling shape that crouched near his head
Those mad green eyes stared down, and as he huddled there his poor heart raced like a rabbit
And it cried, Tailypo, tailypo, give me back my tailypo - and the old man said, I don't have it
It cried, Tailypo, tailypo, give me back my tailypo - and the old man said, I don't have it

Now the dogs ran inside and the critter went to hide, they chased it away in the night
Left old man Stone in bed with the sheets above his head as he tried to recover from his fright
But after awhile he wondered where they'd gotten to; he called them all back by name
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico - but only two dogs came
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico - but only two dogs came

Now he called out again and he worried some then; he said, That's not like Uno at all
But I hope she's all right, just lured into the night by the scents and the sounds of the Fall
He thought he'd just sleep, and find her when he woke again but soon wondered why he had thought it:
He woke to Tailypo, tailypo, give me back my tailypo - and the old man said, I ain't got it
He woke to Tailypo, tailypo, give me back my tailypo - and the old man said, I ain't got it

The two dogs growled and the green-eyed critter yowled; they chased it off but only one returned
The old man stoked the fire and the flames went leaping higher he and Ino sat to watch it as it burned
The door swung wide and those fierce green eyes were all he saw; Ino rushed over to grab it
As it cried, Tailypo, tailypo, give me back my tailypo - and the old man said, I don't have it
It cried, Tailypo, tailypo, give me back my tailypo - and the old man said, I don't have it

Now old man Stone he sat there all alone looking at the tail-bones from the stew
He couldn't make it whole, and he said, Upon my soul I wish I had some notion what to do
So when it came back, still crying for its tailypo he gave it the bones to claim
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico; he called but no dogs came
He called for Uno, Ino, and Comptico-Calico; he called but no dogs came...

Now the story goes around on the farms and in the town of a long-tailed beast along the riverside
It's cunning and it's slick, it'll draw your hounds off quick; its eyes are mad and it has shadow-colored hide
And once is awhile some young fool tries to hunt it down but not one can say that he's caught it
And it sings, Tailypo, tailypo, I got back my tailypo; I lost it one time but I got it
It sings, Tailypo, tailypo, I got back my tailypo; I lost it one time but I got it

Peep Squirrel (traditional)

Peep squirrel, dah dah diddle-um
Peep squirrel, dah-dle ah diddle-um

Run squirrel... Run squirrel...

Jump squirrel

Fly squirrel

Catch that squirrel

Caught that squirrel

Cook that squirrel

Eat that squirrel

Possum

There's a possum in my socks and underwear
I don't know just how he got in there
But he's built himself a nest, he just wants to be my guest
But I think he's a pest so I don't care

Mister Possum, what'd you come here for
You've wound up on the wrong side of my door
You'd be better off back where you were before
Mister Possum, give me back my dresser drawer

Now I'll open up that drawer and he'll start hissin'
And it makes me kind of wish he'd turn up missin'
I can guess what he's got planned; I tell him, Don't you bite my hand
But if he can understand he just won't listen

Now Possum, what'd you do that for?
You'd hate it too if I bit you I'm sure
Just get on back to where you were before
You old possum, give me back my dresser drawer

I'm an itchy mess with bathing on the brain
Wish I could wash my troubles down the drain
But it wouldn't do much good: I can't change the way I should
And if this goes on I could just go insane

Mister Possum, let me change my clothes
I've needed to for days and it sure shows
It's makin' me a real pain in the nose
Mister Possum, give me back my underclothes

Now that possum's got me feelin' pretty sore
He's invited in his cousins by the score
Now my clothes are just a loss and out my door I'm going to toss
That dresser and the pos-sums in my drawers

All you possums, get on out that door
I don't want to see you anymore
Just get on back to where you were before
I can't stand all you possums anymore (that's fer shore!)
I can't stand all you possums... anymore!

Further Fearsomes

A hugag's rough coat looks like flaky old pine bark;
he sleeps against trees so they lean to one side
He doesn't have knees, so he leaves quite a trail through
the deep-drifted snow where the snow wassets hide

The snow wassets hide like huge legless weasels
(it's rumored they make a fine furry canoe)
Reach up through the snow and pull grizzly bears under
but you're safe if you're small as the gillygaloo

The gillygaloo nests on hillsides and mountains;
her eggs are all square and they're speckled just so
They mostly get stolen by dice-playing loggers
who follow the trails where the gougers all go

The gougers all go just one way 'round the mountain
with long downhill legs and a short uphill side
But opposite pairs sometimes lean on each other
for crossing the plains where the cactus cats bide

The cactus cats bide on the plains and the deserts;
their love for tequila is something extreme
They let cactus sap out with the spurs on their forearms,
get drunk and then yowl like the whintosser's scream

The whintosser screams like three wolverines
that are stuck back to back in a single physique
Its head and its tail are both mounted to spin;
it could roll up and tangle a roperite's beak

A roperite's beak is as supple as whipcord;
it snares hapless loggers and sundry small game
And dashes about on its leathery flippers
so fast it can dodge tripoderos' sharp aim

Tripoderos' sharp aim is as sure as they come,
for they're telescope-legged and they're telescope-eyed
With pea-shooter jaws to fire deadly clay pellets -
although they just bounce off a gumberoo's hide

A gumberoo's hide is like vulcanized rubber,
so tough it sends bullets right back where they've been
It'll bounce through the trees from one place to another
and bounce off the spots where the whimpuses spin

The whimpuses spin 'round so fast you can't see them;
the chance of surviving a brush is remote
Their paddle-shaped paws tend to blend you to jelly
and it's said they can saw through a hugag's rough coat

A hugag's rough coat...