Song Spotlight: “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)”

When the Red, Red Robin - Song Spotlight |
  • Mood: Cheerful, Jaunty
  • Themes: Signs of Spring, Birds, Feeling Happy
  • Tempo: Moderate (Andante)
  • Genre/style: 1920s popular song

Today’s song spotlight is one of my favorite songs to herald the coming of springtime. It’s also great for inspiring a cheerful mood. The song? “When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along”

Songwriter Harry M. Woods composed this tune in 1926. Perhaps its most famous performer was Al Jolson, who also had such hits as “April Showers” and “California, Here I Come.” That 1926 date is a bit deceiving though because this song has become something of a standard and has been performed frequently over the years. Two of the more famous performances were by Lillian Roth in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and Doris Day in 1953. This song also has a place in the history of casual dining establishments: a man who performed this song frequently with his barbershop quartet also became the owner of the original “Sam’s Red Robin,” which eventually became the Red Robin chain of restaurants. That means you’ll have a special song to sing the next time you go out for a burger!

Like many of the songs I highlight here, “When the Red, Red Robin” presents multiple points of interest. On a concrete level, this song is a great starting point for talking about the sights and sounds of springtime. In many music therapy sessions I’ve had in assisted living facilities, I’ve just had to point out the window for folks to see a red, red robin bobbin’ along in their own back yard. This song is great to add to a set of songs about birds, too – think “Rockin’ Robin,” “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” and “Mockingbird Hill.”

This song also has some great prompts to assist with activities of daily living. Take these lines, for example:

Wake up, wake up you sleepy head
Get up, get out of bed
Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red
Live, love, laugh and be happy

Imagine singing these songs as you help your favorite elder with a morning routine! It sets an optimistic mood for the day, provides reassurance from the sound of your voice that you aren’t a threatening person, and prompts some of the actions you might need your loved one to accomplish. Plus, it will help you to stay calm if there are any frustrations in completing that morning routine.

Another level of exploration in this song works well for older adults who may be dealing with depression or grief while experiencing the difficulties of aging or long-term illness. This song is cheery, yes, but it also acknowledges that things aren’t always sunny:

What if I were blue, now I’m walking through fields of flowers
Rain may glisten but still, I listen for hours and hours
I’m just a kid again, doing what I did again, singing a song
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along

This acknowledgment of the rains of life might be too subtle for some, and this song may still seem too stinkin’ cheerful. But, for others, this subtle acknowledgment that not everything is okay all the time is a quiet validation of what they may be feeling, while providing hope and encouragement at the same time. This song encourages playfulness, which feels great at any age.

What do you think of this song? Do you have other favorite songs about birds or springtime? Please share below!

P.S. Here are two more spring-themed song spotlights for you. Enjoy!

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

When You Wore a Tulip

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


  1. Peggy J Lewis on April 19, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Poor Little Robin, Walkin, Walkin’, Walkin’ To Missouri

    • soundscapemusictherapy on April 19, 2012 at 9:48 am

      I don’t know that one, Peggy! I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Faith Halverson-Ramos on April 19, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I’ve just got to say that I love your Song Spotlight series. It helps me broaden my repertoire and I always learn something new!

    • soundscapemusictherapy on April 19, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Thanks, Faith! I’m glad it’s helpful for you.

  3. music2spark on April 19, 2012 at 9:19 am

    This song is often requested along with “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing” and “Mocking Bird Hill”.

    • soundscapemusictherapy on April 19, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Yup! I love bird-themed sessions, too.

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