Shirley Ellis – “The Name Game”

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When you think back of all the fun songs you’ve heard before, “The Name Game” has to be on that list of songs! Not only is this a fun song to sing, but a tongue-twister as well. Released on the Album: “The Name Game,” in (1964) and peaked at #3 on the US charts.

This song was written by soul singer Shirley Ellis and her manager, Lincoln Chase.

In it, Shirley proves that she can rhyme any name using just a few simple rules (“Shirley – Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!”). Shirley used to amaze audiences by taking name game requests. Shirley usually had the good sense to ignore requests for “Chuck!”

Ellis had another novelty hit a few months later with “The Clapping Song,” which had a similar theme.

This song was also known as the “Banana Song.” Shirley said for a magazine interview that this song was based on a children’s game she used to play.

This has been featured on several movies including Flawless and The Money Pit. A Season 2 episode of the TV show American Horror Story was named after this song, which featured a memorable scene where a delusional Jessica Lange performs it in what becomes a big production number.

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Song Lyrics – 

The name game!
Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley

Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!
Lincoln, Lincoln bo Bincoln Bonana fanna fo Fincoln

Fee fy mo Mincoln, Lincoln!
Come on everybody!
I say now let’s play a game
I betcha I can make a rhyme out of anybody’s name
The first letter of the name, I treat it like it wasn’t there
But a B or an F or an M will appear
And then I say bo add a B then I say the name and Bonana fanna and a
And then I say the name again with an F very plain
and a fee fy and a mo
And then I say the name again with an M this time

and there isn’t any name that I can’t rhyme
Arnold, Arnold bo Barnold Bonana fanna fo Farnold

Fee fy mo Marnold Arnold!
But if the first two letters are ever the same
I drop them both and say the name like
Bob, Bob drop the B’s Bo ob
For Fred, Fred drop the F’s Fo red
For Mary, Mary drop the M’s Mo ary

That’s the only rule that is contrary.
Okay? Now say Bo: Bo
Now Tony with a B: Bony
Then Bonana fanna fo: bonana fanna fo
Then you say the name again with an F very plain: Fony
Then a fee fy and a mo: fee fy mo
Then you say the name again with an M this time: Mony

And there isn’t any name that you can’t rhyme
Say Tony, Tony, bo-bo-ney
bo-na-na fanna, fo-fo-ney
fee fi mo-mo-ney, Tony!
Let’s do Billy!
Billy, Billy, bo-gil-ly, bo-na-na
fanna, fo-fil-ly
fee fi mo-mil-ly, Billy!
Let’s do Marsha!
Marsha, Marsha, bo-bar-sha
bo-na-na fanna, fo-far-sha
fee fi mo-ar-sha, Marsha!
Little trick with Nick!
Nick, Nick, bo-bick, bo-na-na
fanna fo fick, fee fi mo-mick. Nick!
The name game.


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