John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
His name is my name too.
Whenever we go out
The people always shout,
"There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt."
Da da da da da da da.
There's not much to the lyrics of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. There is usually some variation, such as: "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt! His name is my name too! Whenever I go out, the people always shout, there goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!" The song can be sung in a nearly endless loop. Typically, the lyrics get progressively quieter with each repetition, but they're always followed by a resounding "Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah!" (Or similar shout of "tra-la-las" or "nah-nah-nahs.")
The obvious question about the lyrics is whether they refer to a real person. "Just who was John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt?" And what on earth does this well-known nursery rhyme mean? Although the history is obscure, we do know a little about how the lyrics probably originated.
The children's song dates back to at least the 1920s; the first known mention was in 1927. Actually, the song documented then was "John Jacob Guggenheimer Schmidt," which is a good clue as to the lyrics' origins. Schmidt and the surname suffix "-heimer" are both Germanic. The song is thought to have originated during a time when there was a large influx of German immigrants to the United States -- although probably none of them was named John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, as there's no known record of the Jingleheimer surname.
The song likely has its roots in vaudeville. Similar songs have popped up during the years that suggest it was part of a larger theme. One such song is "Yon Yonson," which seems to be about a Swedish immigrant to the Midwest. "Yon Yonson" mocks a mispronunciation of the name John Johnson, Johnson being a popular Swedish surname. Its lyrics are somewhat similar to those of "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt": "My name is Yon Yonson, I come from Wisconsin, I work as a lumberjack there. I see people in the street, they ask me my name and I say, My name is Yon Yonson."
"Yon Yonson" has faded into obscurity, but "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" still rings out in classrooms, on school buses, and around campfires today. The song has probably persisted over the years because it's lively and fun to sing. It's one of the most robust songs in the kids' sing-along song canon.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.