Skinnamarink

Album: One Elephant, Deux Elephants (1978)

Songfacts®:

  • Sharon, Lois & Bram (Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison) are a popular Canadian vocal trio known for their children's TV series The Elephant Show (1984-1988), which used the tune "Skinnamarink" in its closing credits. While many folks associate the song with the entertainers, it originated from the 1910 Broadway musical The Echo. "It's a much older song," Bram explained in a 2019 Songfacts interview. "Lois learned it from her cousin who had learned it at summer camp, and then Lois passed it to us, and we said, 'Well, that's a nice song.'"

    Sharon added: "We didn't know we were going to use it forever and ever at every show at the end of everything we've ever done. Every TV show, every concert, every public appearance, we sing 'Skinnamarink.' People do associate it with us but there are lots of people in the world who know the song and don't know where it came from, and that's fine too."
  • Sharon, Lois & Bram found unexpected fame in 1978 with the release of their debut album, One Elephant, Deux Elephants, which became a huge hit in Canada. The trio were all members of the Ontario music program Mariposa in the Schools, and planned on recording a one-off collection of folk tunes, including the little-known "Skinnamarink," before going back to their individual singing careers. They had never even sung together before recording the album.

    "It's backwards from the way things usually work," said Bram. "Usually, it's like, Hey, let's get together and play in my father's garage or my mother's kitchen or whatever. Then you go down the street and play at the local restaurant or whatever, and you get what you think is good, and you say, 'Okay, let's make a record.' But this was backwards. This was, 'Let's make a record and then let's see what happens,' when we had no idea what was going to happen."
  • Written by lyricist Felix F. Feist and Tin Pan Alley composer Al Piantadosi, the original song, sometimes called 'Skidamarink,' is about a crocodile who sings of his devotion to a sea nymph. Sharon, Lois & Bram stuck with the chorus, which conveys a simple message of love: "Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink, Skinnamarinky Doo, I Love You!" The trio added their own touches, including easy-to-follow choreography, such as pointing to the eyes, the heart, and the audience to communicate, "I love you."
  • Lois died of cancer in 2015. She had semi-retired from the group years earlier after the death of her husband, and Sharon and Bram continued as a duo. In 2019, they announced their retirement from touring but continued to record songs, including a handful of folk tunes by Sharon's late husband, Joe Hampson, who was a member of the Canadian folk group the Travellers.
  • In 2019, this was adapted into a children's book with additional verses written by Sharon's daughter, Randi Hampson.
  • In the 1958 drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a group of children can be heard singing this. It was also used in the 2012 movie Ruby Sparks.
  • This was used in a 2011 Chevy commercial. Before heading out for a night with the guys, a dad removes all the baby gear from his Chevy Cruze - but forgets to check the CD player, which starts playing a version of the tune.

    It was also featured in a 2015 ad for Bose Wireless speakers. When a dad spots his daughter about to make out with her boyfriend, he uses his tablet to switch M83's "Wait" to "Skinnamarink."

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