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The Kid Should See This

A Hole in the Bucket, performed by Odetta and Harry Belafonte

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Playing Liza and Henry in song, folk singer Odetta and singer, actor, and activist Harry Belafonte sing the circular children’s song A Hole in the Bucket.

This December 1959 performance was a part of Tonight With Belafonte, a nationally televised special described on IMDB as “a musical trip through Black America.” It featured “the wide spectrum of contemporary and historical Black musical styles, including gospel, folk, blues, and jazz.”

Odetta with Harry Belafonte
A Hole in the Bucket is also featured on the live album “Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall” (1960). From Wikipedia:

“‘There’s a Hole in My Bucket’ (or ‘…in the Bucket’) is a children’s song based on a protracted dialogue between two characters, Henry and Liza, about a leaky bucket. Various versions exist but they differ only slightly, all describing a ‘deadlock’ situation essentially as follows: Henry’s bucket leaks, so Liza tells him to repair it. To fix the leaky bucket, he needs straw. To cut the straw, he needs a knife. To use the knife, he needs to sharpen it. But the sharpening stone must be damp, so he needs water. But to fetch water, he needs the bucket, which has a hole in it.”

The humorous song is thought to be a version of a German folk song from the 1700s. “These German-American versions all have Henry as the foolish questioner and Liza as the common-sense woman.”

Odetta with Harry Belafonte as Liza and Henry
TIL: National Hole in My Bucket Day is on May 30 every year.

Watch these duos next on TKSST:
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• What is Jazz? Ella Fitzgerald & Mel Tormé explain
• Paul Simon Sings ‘Me & Julio’ on Sesame Street

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