Billy the Squid


Billy the Squid came on many road trips with us.  And we never got tired of him, even when he “squirted and slid”.

Before videos were in cars we listened to music, first on cassettes in the 80’s and then in the 1990″s CD’s came along. We went through many different CD’s only to burn out after hearing annoying lyrics over and over again…”The Wheels on the Bus” or “It’s a Small World After All”. Anyone  feeling my pain? I discovered Tom Chapin at the library. I checked out his “Billy the Squid” CD and we were hooked forever. Clever words, fun sing-a-long choruses, and creative theme’s danced out to our ears. My son Ross, wrote from his mission, that one day he was tracking and he couldn’t get the Tom Chapin lyrics out of his head:

“When I was a little kid, a “diminutive juvenile,”
I liked my folks to read to me, I was an “eager bibliophile.”
Now I love words for how they sound
And how they “communicate.”
Perhaps I should explain myself, that is, “elucidate.”
Great big words, I like big words.
Letter by letter, the bigger the better
Great big words. La la la la la la la la la la!”

We had a good laugh over that. These songs can be ear worms. Below is my favorite song Tom Chapin has written,   with gifted phrases and a hilarious idea of an undersea outlaw. First the words, and then the song is below.

Billy the Squid
(Tom Chapin & John Forster, 1992.)

In the sagas of under-sea outlaws,
And the great soggy deeds that they did,
The saltiest thief ever swam down a reef
Was an outlaw named Billy the Squid.

From the Grand Bank he’d steal sand-dollars
And escaped on a sea-horse named Sid.
He took from the selfish and gave to the shell-fish
That great-hearted Billy the Squid.

In the Pink Coral Lounge — that’s the sand-bar
Of the former Miss Lake Champlain —
A beautiful mollusk, a real living dollusk
Her name it was Clammity Jane.

Now this dive was as hard as a barnacle.
It was real barracuda to reign,
Where groupers and grunts pulled unsavory stunts,
Which was tough on poor Clammity Jane.

One night through the door swam a stranger.
To the corner he squirted and slid.
All the fish in the room grew as hush as a tomb
When they saw it was–Billy the Squid.

Well, he had not come there for a hold-up
Or for criminal personal gain.
He said, “I’ve come on a mission. I’ve come here a-fishin’.
For the beauteous Clammity Jane.”

He said, ” Clammit, I’ve done hurt your feelings.
I’ve caused you some pain. This I know.
But before it’s too late, I’m gonna go straight,
Or as straight as a squid can go.”

So he asked for her hand, but she had none,
And to prove it, she opened her lid.
She said, “How ’bout a foot?” and her foot out she put.
“It’s a beauty,” said Billy the Squid.

So he gathered her up in his tentacles.
And into the sunset they rid.
She said to him, clammily, “Let’s start a family.”
“Yahoo!” said Billy the Squid.

So  they moved to the submarine suburbs,
And when they found that they could not have kids,
They adopted three guppies and four dogfish puppies,
And a whole bunch of clammits and squids.

In the sagas of under-sea outlaws,
And the great soggy deeds that they did,
There’s a clam who prevailed where the sheriff had failed,
When she captured bold Billy the Squid.

You can hear Tom Chapin sing it here:


Here is my second favorite song: The Bleak House

Turn off the Disney songs your children have heard a thousand times. Ban videos in your car until you listen to some music. Your family will LOVE these quick-witted songs and become better listeners. Help create your child’s  fascinating  inner world  by helping them imagine what they are hearing. Maria Montessori described children as “unfolding the divine genius within.” As you protect them from too much media and over-saturation of silly movies, you will help their imaginations and sense of self. You can find Tom Chapin on Spotify or iTunes.

Below are two reviews from Amazon from  Tom Chapin’s, CD,  ” My Hometown”. I was actually looking for my third favorite song “Da Babysitter”, where a gangster with a New York accent tends the children in the song one night. I couldn’t find it on iTunes or Spotify so I ended up buying a used CD on Amazon (that’s how much I want to hear it again!):

“This is our 2nd Tom Chapin CD and we are definitely going to buy more. The songs on this album are so much fun to listen to and sing along with. My two-year-old begs to hear “Piano Song”, a Mozart-based tune about a young piano student’s struggles. He also loves “Don’t Miss the Bus,” which features real bus noises and reminds me of my own late-for-school days. My parents came to visit, and because this is a “Don’t leave home without it” item for us, got to know Tom Chapin as well. They loved the musicality, cleverness and down-to-earth quality of the songs. This is not syrupy “kiddie music” — it’s intelligent, fun, and you won’t get sick of it!!”

“My boys are 5 and 9, and like many, are exposed to a lot of pop music via TV.
YUCK. I love this CD because it is geared to children who are still children, not mini adults. I also love it because the songs are so “singable”! After only a couple of times listening to the tape in the car we were starting to catch on to the tunes and sing along. Having music we can all enjoy while en route is very nice. I will say that my 9-year-old enjoys the lyrics more than my younger son, but he’ll soon grow into the songs. We LOVE “Harry the Hat” — “Da Baby Sitter…ect.”

“You can miss your Daddy, Miss your Mommy, Miss your Uncle Gus. I miss you and you miss me, but don’t miss the bus!!”

Any good music for children that you would recommend?

Disclaimer: I am in no way profiting from this review.

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