"How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm" as written by and Walter/lewis Donaldson....
"Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking,
Said his wifey dear,
Now that all is peaceful and calm,
Soon our boys will be back on the farm.
Mister Reuben started winking,
And slowly rubbed his chin,
He pulled his chair up close to Mother,
Asked her with a grin

How ya gonna keep 'em down, oh no?
How ya gonna keep 'em down, oh no, oh no
How ya gonna keep 'em away from Broadway?
Jazzin' around,
And painting the town?
How ya gonna keep 'em
Away from harm?
That's the mystery,

They'll never want to see a rake or a plow,
And who the deuce can parley-vous a cow?
And how ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paris?

Reuben, Reuben, you're mistaken,
Said his wifey dear,
Once a farmer, always a jay, and
Farmers always stick to the hay.
Mother Reuben, I'm not fakin',
Though you may think it strange.
But wine and women play the mischief,
With a boy who's loose with change!

Oh, how ya gonna keep 'em down,
Oh no, oh no
Oh, how ya gonna keep 'em down?
How ya gonna keep 'em away from Broadway?
Jazzin' around,
And painting the town?
How ya gonna keep 'em away from harm?
That's the mystery

Imagine Reuben when he meets his pa,
He'll pinch his cheek and holler "Ooh la la!"
How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paris, Paris?


Lyrics submitted by peopledontdance

"How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm" as written by Sam M. Lewis Walter Donaldson

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentAbsolutely love this song. It's about a post WWII farm couple discussing whether or not their sons will be returning to life on the farm. Lots of funny lines, my favorite being "and who the deuce can parle-vous a cow?" excellent song.
    Asdfaeouon April 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAsdfaeou,

    Whilst the spirit of your comment is correct, the facts are wrong. The song was actually written some 30+ years prior to WWII by Joe Young, Sam M. Louis and Walter Donaldson (music). It is actually commenting on post WWI troops returning home.

    The original adaptations were jolly bandstand ensembles. Which is why Bird's interpretation and arrangement is so interesting.

    library.jhu.edu/collections/specialcollections/sheetmusic/musictours/singingwar/…

    Notice Paris is spelled "Paree," which, I imagine is a sort of mocking.


    "Absolutely love this song. It's about a post WWII farm couple discussing whether or not their sons will be returning to life on the farm. Lots of funny lines, my favorite being "and who the deuce can parle-vous a cow?" excellent song."
    nanomozon April 20, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI think that the title is related to "The Big Lebowski", to the part when the Dude says: "Boy. How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they seen Karl Hungus."
    j88kon January 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with Asdfaeou's assessment.

    It's also worth noting that Andrew Bird is playing off the old children's rhyme:

    Rubin, Rubin, I've been thinkin'
    What on earth have you been drinkin'
    Looks like water, tastes like wine
    Oh my gosh, it's turpentine

    (Different variations of the rhyme exist, of course)
    thriggleon December 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentErrr, 20+ years, not 30 years. I'm not a stalwart of arithmetic.
    nanomozon April 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI remember a slightly different song that was sung before WWII. Can anyone help me? It had a similar chorus.
    BobbyfromPAon July 11, 2009   Link

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