Song Spotlight: “Mairzy Doats”

Image: Simon Howden /

  • Mood: Light
  • Theme: Humor
  • Tempo: Medium
  • Style/Genre: 1940s popular

With April Fool’s Day coming up, I am in the mood for silly songs, and my very favorite lighthearted song that is appropriate for older adult audiences is “Mairzy Doats.”

As noted in this clip from the Lawrence Welk Show, “Mairzy Doats” was a novelty song that was popular in the early 1940s. The chorus goes like this:

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey

A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?

It sounds like nonsense until the singer gives a little trick to remember what to say:

Sing “mares eat oats and does eat oats

And little lambs eat ivy.”

This is the kind of nonsense song that parents sang to their kids and that kids sang with each other. Chances are an older adults who grew up in the 1940s knows this song, and it still remains a highly singable song with older adults. Jokes could be made about how we sometimes mishear what other people say, or how someone might sound like they’re talking crazy until you really listen to their explanation, but really, I think this song is best enjoyed as simple, lighthearted fun. In music therapy sessions this week, I’m including it with other silly songs and a vocal improvisation exercise with scat singing to round out our April Fool’s Day celebration.

Do you have a favorite silly song to be enjoyed with older adults? Please share!

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.


4 thoughts on “Song Spotlight: “Mairzy Doats”

  1. musicsparks says:

    Loved this song as a child. It has great memories of Mom teaching us songs. Highly encourage people to give this song a sing. It is fun to do slowly as a speech activity gradually speeding it up to get it to the silly stage.

  2. therapeuticharmony says:

    I have always loved this song. My grandmother used to sing it to me as a child and I never really knew what it was saying until I started working with geriatrics and had to learn it. She also used to sing me “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck.” 🙂 MEMORIES

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