Ol’ Man Mose – For Those Who Like 1930s Music with F-Bombs

The next time someone tells you they think 1930s music is lame and tame, you let them listen to this little ditty by Patricia Norman, accompanied by Eddy Duchin and his band.

Warning: Explicit language.

That’s right, explicit language. If you don’t like it in your music, please don’t listen. You’ve been warned!

This was the first known song which had the F word in it, and it was absolutely scandalous when it first came out in 1938. In fact, it not only uses the F word, it uses it repeatedly. Read the lyrics and you’ll see why! Too bad there wasn’t a TV performance like the spectacular one by Betty Hutton, albeit to tamer lyrics, at the end of this post.

Now once there was a little old man
With a funny crooked nose
He lived down in a log hut
And we called him ol’ man Mose
One dark and dreary morning
I knocked upon his door
Well, I didn’t hear a single sound
So I ain’t gonna do it no more

‘Cos, I believe (old man)
Yes, I believe (old man)
I do believe (old man)
That ol’ man Mose is dead
Whoa! I believe (old man)
I sure believe (old man)
Yes, I believe (old man)
That old man Mose is dead

(We believe) He kicked the bucket
(We believe) Where’s the man? Fuck, fuck, fuck it
(We believe) He kicked the bucket
That old man Mose is dead

(We believe) Oh! Fuck it!
(We believe) Fuck, fuck, fuck IT!!!
(We believe) He kicked the bucket
And old man Mose is dead

I went round to the window
And I peeped in through the crack
Inside there was that good old man
Laying flat upon his back
And I knew he wasn’t sleeping
Cause his hands were under the floor
But I didn’t hear a single sound
And I ain’t gonna do it no more

‘Cos, I found out (old man)
Yes, I found out (old man)
I sure found out (old man)
That old man Mose is dead

He’s dead, Mama! (old man)
Oh, I found out (old man)
Yeah, I found out (old man)
That old man Mose is dead

(We found out) He kicked the bucket
(We found out) Where’s the man? Fuck, fuck, fuck it
(We found out) He kicked the bucket
And old man Mose is dead

(We found out) Oh! Fuck it!
(We found out) Fuck, fuck, fuck IT!!!
(We found out) He kicked the bucket
And old man Mose is dead

Oh, I believe Mose kicked the bucket
I do believe he kicked the bucket
I believe Mose kicked the bucket
And old man Mose is dead!

I found out
I found out
Oh I found out
Mose kicked the bucket

And – old – man – Mose – is – dead!

If that proved too much for you, here’s a tamer version with a MUCH better video. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Ol’ Man Mose – For Those Who Like 1930s Music with F-Bombs

  1. Actually, she sings ‘buck, buck, bucket’ in all of the sections. She even imitates a chicken at one part to show she’s saying ‘buck, buck, bucket’. You can also clearly hear the ‘b’ in these words. However, there is a lyric place where she drops the F-bomb and that’s when she says ‘Oh, F… it’. She drops the F-bomb twice in the song as this lyric repeats. The rest of the times she’s singing ‘buck’ or ‘bucket’. In fact, the word bucket is a great cover for ‘f… it’ because you can throw the f-bomb in there and most people won’t hear it. Lady Gaga did the exact same thing in Poker Face and it received a similar amount of controversy even in 2008.

    • Oh, does she? That’s not what my ear hears. I don’t think it’s as clear as you say it is. She may or may not, but I don’t think it’s that clear. The other counterpoint I’ll make is in songwriting, you try to rhyme, not repeat the same ending. That’s WAY to easy to do in place of a rhyme. And if you can rhyme bucket with something less acceptable and use rhyme as a way to pass it off, or to say she really said bucket to avoid conflict in those conservative days, why not? But no songwriter worth his/her salt in those days, even these days, would simply use the same word to rhyme lines when something else, never mind something else so delightful as fuck it, were available! 🙂

      • I’ve been listening to the song in headphones several times in a row on Apple Music and her pronunciation is quite clear on buck vs the other. If you want to compare, you should compare her singing ‘funny’ with ‘f…’ to get an idea of how she pronounces her ‘f’ sounds.. With this recording, her ‘f’ is not definitive and it’s actually hard to hear, but her ‘b’ in buck and bucket is actually easy to hear.

        It also makes more sense for her to only say it once and then follow it up with the next line saying buck or bucket. Buck and Bucket are both intended to reinforce that people are not hearing the F-bomb. Were she to actually say ‘Oh, F… it’ then immediately follow that up with saying ‘f…’ three more times in a row, listeners would catch on quick to what she’s really saying and it would change the entire meaning of the song.

        In some of her ‘buck, bucks’ she says it in a kind of lazy way. It may be that manner of her speech that’s leading you to believe she’s dropping the F-bomb when she isn’t. As I said, she does drop the F-bomb, but only twice in the song and she’s very careful to make sure the next lyric she follows up with is ‘buck’ and that it is definitively pronounced. In this recording, they were careful to only allow her to say it where it could be easily misheard as ‘bucket’ based on her funny way of delivering it and by sandwiching it between lyrics using bucket.

        It’s not the rhyming that matters here, it’s the trickery of slipping an F-bomb into a song that sounds like something else. It’s the same reason Lady Gaga slipped in F… her face into Poker Face. By the title of the song and the rest of the lyrics around the F-bomb, Lady Gaga was able to pull it off without people noticing it right away.

        • Those are good arguments, but I’m not sure I buy them all. My ears still don’t. And I think the rhyming is the “trickery”, or maybe “method” would be the better word, as a coy way to slip in those F bombs while innocently denying it. Right or not, it’s enough to convince me it’s the F bomb and intentional. We might have to agree to disagree here. Great points, though, and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. The first known example of the “f” word being used in mass popular entertainment is in the “pre-code” Warner Bros. Loony Tunes” cartoon short entitled “Bosko’s Picture Show”, in which Bosko refers to the villain on a movie screen as a “dirty f–k”.
    The line in which Patricia Norman belts out, “Aww bucket” can easily be intentionally misheard as “awww…” something else, but we can rest easy knowing that this is most likely one of those urban myths, like people swearing that they saw and heard Groucho say, “I love my cigar, but I take it out every once in a while”,even though he denied it, and there is no film or tape of it. The generations that have been born since 1968 seem to have a hangup about catching examples of the Greatest Generation either inadvertently or intentionally violating their own social mores, even if the example is one you have to reach for.

    • Is it really intentionally misheard? Or you interpreting others intentionally mishearing it to violate our social norms? That seems quite the stretch of mind reading ability you have!

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