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Silly Song Spotlight: Maizy Doats

Mairzy Doats is a novelty song written and composed, in 1943, by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston.  At first glance, the refrain for this song seems meaningless:

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and little lamzy divey, a kiddly divey too, wouldn’t you?

As the song continues, however, we get some guidance about these strange lyrics:

If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey, Sing “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.”

Once our ear has been trained to hear the lyrics in a new way, we often hear the last line as “a kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?”

Song Origin

Milton Drake, one of the writers, said the song had been based on an English nursery rhyme. According to this story, Drake’s four-year-old daughter came home singing, 

“Cowzy tweet and sowzy tweet and liddle sharksy doisters.”   Or translated

Cows eat wheat and sows eat wheat and little sharks eat oysters.

Drake joined his co-writers to come up with a tune for the new version of the rhyme, but for a year no one was willing to publish a “silly song.” Finally, Hoffman pitched it to his friend and bandleader of the Silly Symphonists, Al Trace. Trace liked the song and recorded it. It became a huge hit in the 1940’s.

Songwriting Activity 

This is a song I often sing in my music therapy groups with older adults.  It is a familiar song to many and a great way to add some laughs to the session.  Given that this song was based on another, seemingly nonsensical, nursery rhyme, I like to use Marizy Doats as a songwriting activity as well.  It’s not easy, but it sure is fun.  Here is an example of how the song might be rewritten:

Dearzy Peeze and Wheezy Peeze and little catzy micey   A lynxety micey too, wouldn’t you?

Take a listen to this song HERE and then join the fun by translating my verse and sharing one of your own in the comments.

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