Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Hippopotamus Song, a Singable Picture Book (by the writing team of Flanders & Swann)

Posted on: April 19, 2012

This song sets my heart a-flutter, flutter, flutter! 

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The Hippopotamus Song
Words by Michael Flanders
Music by Donald Swann and Michael Flanders
Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
ISBN: 0-316-28557-9
This book features printed sheet music

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YouTube with the song being sung by Flanders & Swann themselves:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjnOj9O16_I

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I LOVE John Lithgow’s rendition, Track 13, from his album “Singing in the Bathtub,”
http://www.amazon.com/The-Hippopotamus-Song/dp/B0014LPU1I

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THE HIPPOPOTAMUS SONG
Words by Michael Flanders
Music by Donald Swann and Michael Flanders

A bold hippopotamus was standing one day
On the banks of the cool Shalimar
He gazed at the bottom as he peacefully lay
By the light of the evening star
Away on the hilltop sat combing her hair
His fair hippopotami maid
The hippopotamus was no ignoramus
And sang her this sweet serenade

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud

The fair hippopotama he aimed to entice
From her seat on that hilltop above
As she hadn’t got a ma to give her advice
Came tiptoeing down to her love (thud thud thud)
Like thunder the forest re-echoed the sound
Of the song that they sang when they met
His inamorata adjusted her garter
And lifted her voice in duet

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud

Now more hippopotami began to convene
On the banks of that river so wide
I wonder now what am I to say of the scene
That ensued by the Shalimar side
They dived all at once with an ear-splitting sposh
Then rose to the surface again
A regular army of hippopotami
All singing this haunting refrain

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud

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A  very clever set of animal songs, written by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, includes, “The Hippopotamus Song, ”


The Bestiary of Flanders & Swann (vinyl album cover shown)
Words and Music by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

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Some info about Flanders & Swann writing team, here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flanders_and_Swann

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The SONG FACTS website page with info on how “The Hippopotamus Song” came to be:
http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=9851

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“Anatomy of a Song: The Hippopotamus Song,” here:
http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Anatomy-of-a-Song–The-Hippopotamus-Song-277935.html

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There is a line in the song “…on the banks of the cool Shalimar,” and I’m beginning to conclude that MM. Flanders and Swann made up the River Shalimar (or Shalimar River).  It’s a wonderful word and appropriate for this hippo love song as there are the Persian Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan.  In one site online, Shalimar is defined to mean “abode of love,” so that the amorous hippos live on the banks of a river called Shalimar is appropriate and poetic.

Click this link for beautiful pictures of the Shalimar Gardens and some info about their history:
http://shalimarfood.com/WhatisShalimar.aspx

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Picture of Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan

More info, here:
http://www.pakistanpaedia.com/landmarks/shalamar-gardens_lahore.htm

**********************
Related Posts

I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS, A SINGABLE PICTURE BOOK
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/i-want-a-hippopotamus-for-christmas/

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