“Rickety Tickety Tin”—an allegedly Irish ballad about domestic violence, and how the guilty always go free….


Irish Ballad From Album: A Faire to Remember

words and music by Tom Lehrer

About a maid I’ll sing this song sing rickety tickety tin
… who did not have her family long
Not only did she do them wrong.
She did everyone of them in.
Them in. She did every one of them in

One morning in a fit of pique sing rickety tickety tin
… she drowned her father in the creek
The water tasted bad for a week
And we had to make do with gin
With gin. We had to make do with gin

Her mother she could never stand sing rickety tickety tin
… stand and so a cyanide soup she planned
The mother died with a spoon in her hand
And her face in a hideous grin
A grin. Her face in a hideous grin

She set her sisters hair on fire sing rickety tickety tin
… and as the smoke and flame grew higher
Danced around the funeral pyre
Playing a violin
O-lin. Playing a violin

She tied her brother down with stones sing rickety tickety tin
… and sent him off to Davy Jones
All they ever found were the bones
And occassional pieces of skin
Of skin. Occassional pieces of skin

One day she had nothing to do sing rickety tickety tin
… she cut her baby brother in two
Served him up in an Irish stew
And invited the neighbors in
-Bors in. Invited the neighbors in.

When at last the police came by sing rickety tickety tin
… these terrible deeds she did not deny
To do so she would have to lie
And lying she knew was a sin
A sin. Lying she knew was a sin

ADDITIONAL VERSE
[Just one last thing before I go sing rickety tickery tin
… there is something I think you ought to know
They had no proof so they let her go
And they say she was tall and thin
And thin. They say she was tall and thin.]

My tragic
tale I won’t prolong sing rickety tickety tin
… and if you did not enjoy this song
You’ve yourself to blame for letting me go on
You should never have let me begin
Begin. You should never have let me begin!

5 responses to ““Rickety Tickety Tin”—an allegedly Irish ballad about domestic violence, and how the guilty always go free….

  1. I have fun with, lead to I found exactly what
    I wwas looking for. You’ve ennded my four day long
    hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

    • Charles Edward Lincoln III

      OK, sometimes I just have to approve “spammy” comments like this one because they are so delightfully craven and sycophantic …..

  2. I was under the impression it was “her little pranks” not “her terrible deeds.” Also, I don’t think that this was intended to be a political song. If it is, then I shudder to think of the message in I Hold Your Hand in Mine.

    • Charles Edward Lincoln III

      Ok, I was paraphrasing and being kind of cynical and sarcastic about the political implications, but I think that all of Tom Lehrer’s songs have that kind of ambiguity just built into them. Thank you for your comments though—-nice to know somebody is paying attention.

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