For He's A Jolly Good Fellow

Album: Family Celebration Songs (1783)

Songfacts®:

  • This traditional song has been used for many years to congratulate a person on reaching retirement, a birthday, the birth of a child, or some other significant event or achievement. It is generally sung in a partying, drinking and/or sporting context. The tune originates from the popular French folk song "Marlborough s'en va-t-en guerre" ("Marlborough Has Left for the War"), which was composed the night after the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709. The song was frequently printed in France as "Malbrouk" or "Marlbourouck," or some other variation, after it was popularized by a nurse singing it to one of Marie Antoinette's infants as a lullaby. The first date we have of the melody being associated with the familiar English words was in 1870, in New York, when the tune was known as "We Won't Go Home till Morning." The public domain lyrics are of unknown origin.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" is the second-most popular song in the English language, following "Happy Birthday."
  • This public domain song is frequently used instead of "Happy Birthday to You" in films and TV to avoid possible copyright issues. Some of the many instances when it has cropped up in movies include The Poseidon Adventure, when it was played by the band on New Year's Eve and in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, where the character Zartan habitually whistles the tune. In The Rescuers, a variation of the song, "For Penny's a Jolly Good Fellow," is sung by the orphan kids at the end of the movie.
  • The song is often used in sporting occasions by crowds to toast sporting heroes such as the legendary Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman after his famous last Test Match in 1948. Alternatively the tune is frequently borrowed for sports crowd ditties such as the traditional football chant, "We're Gonna Win the League."
  • The 2010 album track by Welsh rock band The Lostprophets, "For He's a Jolly Good Felon," is a play on words on this song.

Comments: 2

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 12th 1967, "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" by Bobby Vinton entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #82; it remained on the chart for four weeks, peaking at #66...
    Between 1962 and 1980 he had forty-four records on the Top 100; nine made the Top 10 with four reaching #1, "Roses Are Red (My Love)" {4 weeks in 1962}, "Blue Velvet" {3 weeks in 1963}, "There! I've Said It Again" {4 weeks in 1964}, and "Mr. Lonely" {1 week in 1964}...
    Mr. Vinton, born Stanley Robert Vinton, Jr., will celebrate his 80th birthday in one month on April 16th {2015}...
    God bless him.
  • Emily from Around Chicago, IlWow, this is awesome. First "Happy Birthday To You", now this? Go songfacts!!!
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