Song Spotlight: “Mairzy Doats”

Mairzy Doats - Song Spotlight |
  • 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.”

“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.


  1. musicsparks on March 30, 2011 at 8:19 am

    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.

    • soundscapemusictherapy on March 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

      Thanks, JoAnn! You’re right – this one is perfect for intergenerational groups as well.

  2. therapeuticharmony on April 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    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

  3. John W. Eberhart on April 30, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Would like to know where i could get a copy of this song, I’m a volunteer piano player and my audiences would love this song, and probably have sang it!

    • Rachelle on May 18, 2020 at 9:39 pm

      Hi John! You could probably get it as sheet music from SheetMusicPlus online.

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