On May 30 each year, we celebrate National Hole in My Bucket Day. This is an odd holiday, not only because celebrating a hole is odd, but also because it is based on a song.
There are actually two songs about buckets with holes. One is a more adult song, made popular by Hank Williams. A man sings sadly that he can’t get any beer because there’s a hole in his bucket. You can listen to Hank Williams himself singing it here.
However, the version I like is a children’s song that originated in Germany in the 1700s called “There’s a Hold in The Bucket.” It’s about a hapless man, Henry, who goes to get water from the well, only to find a hole in his bucket. He then goes to Liza for advice.
Here’s a taste of it.
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, mend it.
With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, with what?
With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, with a straw.
The straw is too long, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The straw is too long, dear Liza, too long,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, cut it.
It goes on and on. Liza recommends a knife, which turns out to be too dull. She tells Henry to sharpen it, but alas, the whetstone is too dry, so she recommends he wet it with water drawn from the well in the bucket. But…!
You can find straightforward versions of the song on the Internet, but my favorite is the Muppet version, with Liza getting more and more frustrated. You can see and hear it here.
This is an example of a song called a circular song. Another example is the folk song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” made popular by Peter, Paul, and Mary. If you would like to hear it again, listen here.
Quotes about songs
Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.–Emory Austin
You can cage the singer but not the song.–Harry Belafonte
Those who wish to sing always find a song.–Proverb
A song will outlive all sermons in the memory.–Henry Giles
It was his nature to blossom into song, as it is a tree’s to leaf itself in April.–Alexander Smith
Faith and joy are the ascensive forces of song.–Edmund Clarence Stedman
It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.–Joan Baez
A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.–Donna Roberts
I would rather be remembered by a song than by a victory.–Alexander Smith
Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.–Ronald Reagan
Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.–Stevie Wonder
If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.–Khalil Gibran
Every bad situation is a blues song waiting to happen.–Amy Winehouse
Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song.–Plato
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