A Primer on the Diarrhea Song: Origins, Lyrics, and Structure

Tackling The Diarrhea Song is no easy task, not just because of its implied simplicity (which, in reality, it isn’t), but also because of its lack of origin tales, first recordings, or proto versions. Much like the folklore of yore, The Diarrhea Song simply just…existed.

The Diarrhea Song is a fascinating study on how folk songs come to be. In fact, many folklorists, both in America and abroad, have started using The Diarrhea Song (along with other “modern” folk songs like John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt) as an example for, well, whatever it is they’re researching at the moment. Again, the lack of origin means these songs can be used as an example for a wide variety of academic fields, from studying linguistic and musical traditions vis-à-vis migration patterns to cultural transmission of tradition.

The Diarrhea Song Lyrics

Before we get into the lyrics, there are two widely-known variations of The Diarrhea Song, with one being claimed as the original. There is no way to know which one came first, but the first variation goes:

Diarrrhea, uh, uh, Diarrrhea, uh, uh,

People think it’s funny, but it’s really dark and runny

Diarrrhea, uh, uh, Diarrrhea, uh, uh,

People think it’s gross, but I eat it on my toast

Diarrrhea, uh, uh, Diarrrhea, uh, uh,

It’s really diarrhea, but it’s really fun to eat

Diarrrhea, uh, uh, Diarrrhea, uh, uh!

This is known as The Diarrhea Song (Uh uh), and is a slightly simpler version of the second variation. Both variations, however, follow the same lyrical and harmonic format (more on this later).

The second version, and arguably the more popular version, is called The Diarrhea Song (cha cha cha) and it goes:

When you sliding into first

with your pants about the burst

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

When you’re riding in a Chevy

and you feel something heavy

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

When you’re sliding into home

and your pants are full of foam

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

When you’re sitting in the bath

and you feel something splash

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

Diarrhea (optional: cha cha cha)

Photo Credits from: Unsplash

The popularity of the second version stems from the fact that it lends itself better to variation. With the Diarrhea Song (cha cha cha), kids AND adults can continue creating verses, often turning it into a game of who can continue the song for as long as possible. To do this, one must simply follow the rhyming scheme and the basic structure of The Diarrhea Song (cha cha cha).

Where Did it Come From?

Folklorists around the country still disagree on the exact origins of the Diarrhea Song, although many agree that the rhyme was first recorded sometime in the mid 60’s. Where exactly in the country it originated from, no one’s really sure; it’s as if parents just came home one day to their kids singing about liquid poop.

Some historians argue that The Diarrhea Song has its origins in mid 19th century vaudeville, although evidence of that is lacking. Of course, the vaudeville speculation isn’t ridiculous: many children’s songs like John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt or The Song that Never Ends can trace their roots back to 19th and early 20th century stage acts. As with other children’s songs, and depending on the state, decade, town, county, etc., the tune of the Diarrhea Song can be sung in an infinite loop (much to the chagrin of the people around you) so long as one keeps adding lyrics (more on this later).

The Diarrhea Song, however, is strange because of its seemingly overnight creation and propagation, cementing itself into the collective cultural psyche of America in one, fell swoop. The Diarrhea Song ear-wormed its way into popular culture, from schoolyards and summer camps, to TV and movies, and even to America’s favorite institution, baseball.

Other than that, The Diarrhea Song has been featured in movies like Parenthood and TV shows like Bob’s Burgers.

Structure and Elements of The Diarrhea Song

For the purpose of clarity, we will be focusing on breaking down the structure and elements of the second variation of the Diarrhea Song, otherwise known as The Diarrhea Song (cha cha cha). Because of its infinite loop structure, The Diarrhea Song can be continued ad infinitum, for as long as the singers follow its basic lyric formation and elements.

First step: Create a preposition that sets a scene. This is usually accomplished by the use of the word “when”, although this can vary so long as it fits the overall structure.

Next: follow up with a sentence that creates tension. This is usually done by describing urgency, activity, place, and/or awkward time for diarrhea to occur. This step is usually free-form, and the only real rule for this particular song element is that it rhymes with the fourth step (more on this later).

The third step involves the conjunction “and”. This conjunction is the bridge between your setup and the “punchline”. While there are very few “rules” in the Diarrhea Song, this bridge is important and should not be skipped.

The fourth step is the punchline and must be rhymed (ala couplet) with the line preceding it. Here, the singer reveals how they know that what they are feeling is, in fact, diarrhea. Use this line to describe, in as funny a detail as possible, the effect of diarrhea. Again, while this step is technically free-form, the only rule to follow is that it must rhyme with the second element.

The fifth and final step is the addition of the chorus. It’s not a Diarrhea Song if the Diarrhea (cha cha cha) Diarrhea (cha cha cha) isn’t included, it will just be nonsense. Traditionalists will insist upon the addition of the cha cha cha, although modern researchers have found that the millennial and Gen Z generations have long since dropped that part.

At the end of the day, the whole point of The Diarrhea Song is to create a fun, memorable, and funny song that works both for adults and children. For adults, it’s a great way to pass the time and have shallow fun, but for children, The Diarrhea Song is more than just because poop is funny: it also teaches them that poop is natural. And, well, funny.

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