Alfred (The Alligator Song)

The Bird Sings Oral Tradition Song Library

Alfred (The Alligator Song)

This is the most popular song I’ve ever taught. (Truly.) A song that will keep you from ever taking yourself too seriously, works in an 8-part round and it will be with you forever.

Composer & Copyright

By Nick Thorkelson. I learned this version of the song has come from later alterations of Nick’s original. You can find his original version in the Rise Again songbook.

Recording

Lyrics

Have you ever been down the water spout
To the very bottom of the water system
There you’ll find a little alligator
Who goes by the name of Alfred, if you do
He’s mine, I lost him
I threw him down the water spout and now I’m feeling lonely ‘cause he’s gone
I miss him

Teaching Track from the 2014 Song-a-Day Challenge

Teaching Notes

Despite it’s wordiness, I find this song pretty quickly teachable. No harmonies, just add complexity by picking up speed and adding the round. The trickiest line that usually needs some rounds of review is “and now I’m feeling lonely ’cause he’s gone.”

4

Level of teaching speed/ difficulty (1 = very easy, 10 = very challenging)

 

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17 Comments
  • I wrote this. I was a kid walking down a street in New York with my family, and my younger brother Chris said “Did you ever step in a sewer pipe pipe,” and I took it from there. My older brother Peter, known professionally as Peter Tork, introduced it to the world as part of his cabaret repertoire, but he changed “sewer pipe” to “water pipe.” Eventually it became widely known, especially in summer camps, with some later singers changing Alvin to Alfred. I never realized until much later that it worked as a round. You can find my version in the Rise Again fakebook.

    • Lisa G.

      How wonderful note to hear from you Nick! This is a first, to find the author of a song through my site. 🙂 I’m so glad to hear your story and to hear your patience with the inevitable movements that happen when songs travel through oral-tradition. Thank you for your wonderful song, which is unequivocally the most listened-to song in my library! I will add accreditation to you.

  • Hannah Shribman-Brown

    In my last year in my youth choir, one of the girls taught us this song when we were trying to find new warmup songs. We did it a few times and we all liked it. Other songs we did include Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes which is tiring because of how fast we have to do it (warms up the body as well as the voice). We also did songs called Whose Pigs Are These, A Baby Sardine and My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean. We even did the former two as rounds.
    The choir itself was serious, but the warmups were usually pretty silly. Still, it’s pretty funny to be tongue clicking during a song (we did a Frozen medley, and that’s in Do You Want To Build A Snowman).

  • Carissa M

    This is my favorite choir warm-up. We once did it in a 12 part round. We learned the lyrics a little bit differently though.

  • Samantha Kim

    OMG! I love this song. Our music teacher taught us this song and it’s stuck in everyone’s head now.

  • Laney Bernard

    We learned this song in Chorus and we use it as a warm-up every single day and I can’t stop singing it!!!!

  • Aleks

    Oh, man am I happy to find this song. I learned it years ago when I was in middle school chorus and I find myself singing it randomly to this day, I even taught it to my nieces who are at the age of when I had learned it!

  • I learned this in choir. And it’s stuck in my head all the time

  • Willow Timmerman

    learned this as a kid i can’t believe i found it!!

  • We learned how he lost him down the water spout.

  • Dana Ibragimov

    <3 this song

  • Dana Ibragimov

    we learned this in school not long ago

  • Vicki Horowitz

    THANK you so much for teaching me Alfred the Alligator Song. Our 33 year old sung this to us in the car as we drove to Virginia to canvas for a Congressional candidate (a woman) who we really like. We sang this song with our 2 year old granddaughter who looked at us like we were nuts. We had never heard this before which is strange since we have been into folk music and rounds for decades. He learned it at sleepaway summer camp years and years ago and it just popped back into his head as we were driving from DC to Virginia…Thanks for the line by line teaching. I learned it. love this….

  • Davina grace

    In my choir we sing this song but the instructor taught it to us a different way

  • Bob Vance

    I learned this song in 2009 and it is stuck in my head to this day

  • My teacher taught me this today and I love it

    • It was fun although it didn’t make sense.

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