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In an interview with the Vulture Newsletter, Raffi described it as being “An old, old song", saying that "It may have been a World War I song ... It came from England.”
In recent years, it has gained popularity as a campfire song among the Scouting Movement in Britain. Another version of the song is "Down by the Sea." The chorus from this was used by the folk band, Fiddler's Dram, in their song "Johnny John."
The song lyrics are usually as follows:
Down by the bay,
Where the watermelons grow,
Back to my home,
I dare not go,
For if I do,
My mother will say:
Usually the insertion lyrics follow some kind of variation of the question "Did/(Have) you ever see(n) a _____ _____ing a _____?", with the first and last blank rhyming. For example:
"Did you ever see a moose kissing a goose?" (or "goose kissing a moose")
"Did you ever see a whale with a polka dot tail?"
"Did you ever see a fly wearing a tie?"
"Did you ever see a bear combing his hair?"
"Did you ever see a cat losing his hat?"
"Did you ever see some llamas eating their pyjamas?"
The song can be ended with the following line: "Did you ever have a time when you couldn't make a rhyme?"
Each of the rhyming lines is followed by the ending line: "Down by the bay"