Wednesday, August 30, 2006

why is the london bridge always falling down?

This is a photo I took of the London Bridge when I was in Lovely London a few months ago.

I often played the London Bridge is falling down game as a child. You know the link hands with some other crazy bored child and sing the song...

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, Falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

Then you catch someone inbetween your arms. Very fun game. I should play it today...who's in?

So then we hear the fab Fergie Ferg singing, "How come every time you come around My London London Bridge want to go down Like London London want you to go down Like London London be going down like..." what is this London bridge refrence exactly meaning to communicate with us? Jimmy and me were both pondering the question this morning and well---have no idea.

So I dug a little deeper and found some research on the subject and this is what I found on


The earliest reference to the rhyme appears to be in a play of 1659, and it is recorded as being associated with children by 1720. The earliest known text dates from a little later, appearing in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (circa 1744). It is likely, however, that it was already well-established by this time.

The rhyme may have had considerably more ancient antecedents. In 1013, London Bridge was burned down by King Ethelred and his Norwegian ally Olaf Haraldsson in a bid to divide the invading forces of the Danish king Svein Haraldsson. The event was recorded in the Saga of Olaf Haraldson, part of the Heimskringla composed around 1225 by Snorri Sturluson. Snorri quotes extracts of a lay by a Norse poet, Ottar Svarte, including the following passage which is strikingly similar to parts of the rhyme:

London Bridge is broken down. --
Gold is won, and bright renown.
Shields resounding,
War-horns sounding,
Hild is shouting in the din!
Arrows singing,
Mail-coats ringing --
Odin makes our Olaf win! [1]

However, the popular version probably originates from 1269, when Henry III granted the tolling right to Queen Eleanor. She is the "fair lady" who notably failed to spend the resulting funds on actually maintaining the structure.


The meaning of the rhyme is obscure. Most obviously, it relates to the many difficulties experienced in bridging the River Thames: London's earlier bridges did indeed "wash away" before a bridge built of "stone so strong" was constructed. It has been suggested that the "fair lady" who is "locked up" is a reference to an old practice of burying a dead virgin in the foundations of the bridge to ensure its strength through magical means, although this more plausibly refers to Queen Eleanor. Intriguingly, the rhyme is not confined to England and variants exist in many other western and central European countries.


Modernist poet T.S. Eliot used the first two lines of this rhyme in his famous poem The Waste Land.

Late indie musician Elliott Smith referenced the rhyme in song, "Baby Britain" --"London bridge is safe and sound, no matter what you keep repeating, nothing's going to drag me down, to a death that's not worth cheating."

Nu-Metal band KoRn used a part of this rhyme for their song Shoots and Ladders.

Darkwave band Switchblade Symphony used two verses of and added to the original rhyme for their song Gutter Glitter.

Hip hop performer Lil Jon performed a crunk version of ths rhyme on Nick Cannon's Wild 'N Out show.[2]

The title from the 1993 movie "Falling Down" was inspired from this song, which is also sung in the movie.

In the Disney movie Pocahontas, Governor Ratclife's dog has a toy carousel from which dog biscuits hang. When the carousel moves, it plays "London Bridge is Falling Down"

The theme song to celebreality show My Fair Brady is sung to the same melody as "London Bridge is Falling Down".

In Fergie of Black Eyed Peas's song, "London Bridge," Fergie sings: How come every time you come around My London London Bridge want to go down Like London London want you to go down Like London London be going down like... This is a direct reference to this song.

Well- what do you think? We think Fergie Ferg Love you long time...

1 comment:

Katie said...

That made my head hurt. I dreamt that I was back in London last night.