Is Anyone Familiar with a Song with the Line “”Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been thinking, what cruel world this would be””

Meg wrote:

Good afternoon.

I recently had a little boy and, I have been singing to him different songs from my childhood. I am hoping that you can help me track down lyrics to a song that mother used to sing to me. The song goes…

Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been thinking, what cruel world this would be, if the boys were all transported, far beyond the Northern Sea.

To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure that lyrics are 100% correct. Let me know if you can help.

Thank you,

Meg

If anyone can help out with this song, please comment below or email me.

Thanks!

Lisa

UPDATE: We added the Rubin, Rubin I’ve Been Thinking Song and the Jump Rope Rhyme to our song pages!

This article was posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2007 at 11:01 am and is filed under American Kids Songs, Australia, Australian Kids Songs, British Children's Songs, Canada, Canadian Children's Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Languages, Questions, Readers Questions, United Kingdom, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

35 Responses to “Is Anyone Familiar with a Song with the Line “”Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been thinking, what cruel world this would be”””

  1. Lisa Says:

    Jason Pomerantz found the lyrics to your song! It was written by Harry Birch in 1871, music by William Gooch. It’s callled Reuben and Rachel and it’s a “comic duet”:

    Reuben and Rachel

    [Rachael]
    Reuben, I have long been thinking,
    What a good world this might be,
    If the men were all transported
    Far beyond the Northern Sea.

    [Reuben]
    Rachel, I have long been thinking,
    What a good would this might be,
    If we had some more young ladies
    On this side the Northern Sea.

    [CHORUS]
    [Reuben]
    Too ral loo ral loo,
    [Rachel]
    Too ral loo ral,
    [Reuben]
    Too ral loo ral loo,
    [Rachel]
    Too ral loo lee,
    [Reuben and Rachel; overapped voices]
    [Rachel]
    If the men were all transported
    Far beyond the Northern Sea.
    [Reuben]
    If we had some more young ladies
    On this side the Northern Sea.

    [Rachael]
    Reuben, I’m a poor lone woman,
    No one seems to care for me,
    I wish the men were all transported
    Far beyond the Northern Sea.

    [Reuben]
    I’m a man without a victim,
    Soon I think there’s one will be,
    If the men are not transported
    Far beyond the Northern Sea.

    (CHORUS)

    [Rachael]
    Reuben, what’s the use of fooling,
    Why not come up like a man?
    If you’d like to have a “lovyer”
    I’m for like your “Sally Ann.”

    [Reuben]
    Oh my goodness! oh my gracious!
    What a queer world this would be,
    If the men were all transported
    Far beyond the Northern Sea!

    (CHORUS)

    [Rachael]
    Reuben, now do stop your teazing,
    If you’ve any love for me;
    I was only just a fooling,
    As I thought of course you’d see.

    [Reuben]
    Rachel, I will not transport you,
    But will take you for a wife,
    We will live on “milk and honey,”
    Better or worse, we’re in for life.

    (CHORUS)

    Click the link to hear the tune to Reuben and Rachel.

    Click the link for the sheet music for Reuben and Rachel.

    Click the link for the guitar chords for Reuben and Rachel.

  2. Megan Says:

    I just wanted to thank you for your help with this. I finally found the song and author. The name of the song is Ruebin and Rachel. It was written by Harry Birch. I have actually found three other versions of the song as well. Thanks again for your help!!

  3. Mark in Cincinnati Says:

    Thanks from me too. I’ve been trying to find this for years.
    I first heard it on a Disney Songs cassette (since lost).
    From memory I figured it out on the piano (so I can play
    it myself to some degree), but I always wanted to know
    the true tune, lyrics and origin.

  4. Roger in San Francisco Says:

    My mother used to sing this to me and I was trying to remember the words. Thank you!

  5. Earl Battle Says:

    I remember this song from long ago & was wondering what the complete lyrics were. Thanks a million! The words weren’t exactly as I remembered them…….but close enough! Thanks !!!!

  6. Joan IN TEXAS Says:

    I have been trying to find this song since I was in Elemertery school. I first heard it at age 10, I was attending St. Anthony grade school in South Ozone Park, NewYork. It was my favorite song in 1956. Thanks for bringing back so many good memories..

  7. Jim Schessler Says:

    In the early 1950’s, when I was a very young child, the girls would jump rope to a similar rhyme.

    Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been thinking:

    What’s that queer stuff you’ve been drinking?

    Smells like whiskey, looks like wine-

    Oh my gosh, it’s TURPENTINE.

  8. Randy from California Says:

    This will be similar to the previous comment by Jim. I grew up in the early 60’s in Massachusetts, and heard this frequently as a kid,

    Rubin, Rubin I’ve been thinking,
    What on earth have you been drinking—
    Is it whiskey, Is it wine ?
    Oh my gosh, it’s terpentine

    Very interesting to see different versions over the years………

  9. roxy Says:

    ya i have hered of it i forgot the name though.

  10. A. Phillips Says:

    I heard the Ruben and Rachel tune with names and events from the Bible–Adam, Noah, etc. Does anyone have these words or know where I can find them?

  11. Greg Says:

    I was born in 1947 in Atlanta. This is a jumprope rhyme. The
    way I remember one of these:

    Ruben, Ruben, I’ve been thinkin’
    What on earth have you been drinkin’
    Smells like beer, tastes like wine
    Oh, my gosh, it’s turpentine.
    How many bottles have you done drank ?

    (Start counting at 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. until the jumper
    misses)

    And yes, I am male

  12. Nancy in Arkansas Says:

    Thanks to Meg for her question and to all those who answered. And to Joan from Texas, I, too, learned this song in school in the mid-1950s when I was attending a Catholic grammar school, St. Andrew’s in Little Rock, AR. As I raised my four children I sang what little I could remember of it — basically the first two verses — but now I’ve been trying to recall it for a grandson. BTW, I never heard the drinking/jump rope versions, but as a third generation Irish American, I can appreciate that such parodies developed.

    Nancy in Arkansas

  13. Cheyenne Says:

    Well this is part of the verison i have to sing. So [:

    [girls]
    Reuben Reuben Ive been thinking What a fine world this would be, If all the men where transported far beyond the northern sea.

    [guys]
    Oh my Goodness Gracious Rachel What a weird world this would be, If all the men where transported far beyond the nothern sea.

    [girls]
    Reuben

    [guys]
    Rachel, Reachle

    [girls]
    Reuben!

    [guys]
    Rachel!

    [girls]
    Reuben!

  14. Brooke Says:

    Haha my choir 8th graders are singing this and its a joyful song. The audience loved it!

  15. Lisa Says:

    That’s great! If you’d like to send us a recording, we’d be happy to post one.

  16. McKenzie Says:

    I am actually in a choir and we are singing a song like that except we have different words. The version i know goes like this:

    Ruben, Ruben i’ve been thinking what a grand world this would be, if the men were all transported far beyond the northern sea.

    Oh my goodness gracious Ruben, what a funny world this would be, if the men were all transported far beyond the northern sea.

    Ruben, Ruben i’ve been thinking what a happy life girls would lead, if they had no men about them, none to tease them none to head.

    Ha-ha, ha-ha, HA! ha-ha ha-ha.

    Ruben, Ruben i’ve been thinking.. (what a grand time men would have), if at once they were transported far beyond the northern sea.

    Ruben, Ruben stop your teasing, if you have a love for me, i was only just a-kidding…..

    sorry thats all i remember!

  17. Bob Says:

    My daughter and her fiance were driving through Lincoln, Nebraska when they remembered alternative words. “Reuben, Reuben” is replaced by ‘Lincoln, Lincoln.’ They called and asked me if I knew the origin. The immediate, logical conclusion is that they both learned it that way as children growing in the same place where the lyrics were commonly misquoted. However he was raised in Albuquerque N.M. and she grew up in northern Wisconsin. Anybody know how the permutation took place? I’ve seen it the ‘Lincoln, Lincoln’ way several places on the web. Sure would like to more about this….

  18. Lisa Says:

    Katie sent this note:

    The way I remember it…

    Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been thinking
    What a queer world this would be
    If the men were all transported
    Far beyond the northern sea

    Rachel, Rachel stop your ___
    ?
    and I’ll take you for my wife
    And I’ll split with you my paycheck
    Every payday of my life*

    (I was just so sure I could sing it right off.. I’ll work on it and it may come to me later..
    hope this gives you a start.. maybe you’ll remember the rest.)
    *too bad this isn’t real life, huh? never realized the humor in that until now.

    Katie Lowder

  19. Lisa Says:

    Bob, here’s a rhyme I found for Lincoln, Lincoln:

    Lincoln, Lincoln, I’ve been thinking,
    What the heck have you been drinking?
    Smells like whiskey, tastes like wine,
    Oh, my lord, it’s turpentine.

    There are variations of this rhyme:

    Lincoln Lincoln I’ve been thinkin’
    What the heck have you been drinkin’?
    Is it whiskey? Is it wine?
    Oh my god, it’s turpentine!

  20. Lisa Says:

    Larry wrote:

    Did you get the lyrics to the song. My wife has a copy she thinks on tape but it is in storage. It was a 1950’s jump rope song for girls. She says 4 verses but I remember 6. There were probably many more. Seems like:

    Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been thinking
    What a fine world this would be
    If all men were transported
    Far beyond the salty sea.

    Rachel, Rachel, I’ve been thinking
    What a fine world this would be
    If all men were transported
    Far beyond the salty sea.

    Rubin, Rubin, I’ve been teasing
    What a cruel world this would be
    If all men were transported
    Far beyond the salty sea!

    Rachel, Rachel, I’m not teasing
    What a fine world this would be
    If all men were transported
    Far beyond the salty sea.

    Rubin, Rubin, stop your teasing
    If you loved me you would see…

    … and marry me!

    Rachel, Rachel, I’ve stopped teasing…

    This is close. Mary says she has both the sheet music and a tape but it is in storage. If still in print it came from ABecka Books located in Pensacola, Fla. If you have it let me know.

    Larry F. McEver

  21. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for writing! I found Rubin, Rubin. We have the full lyrics at:

    http://mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=2650&c=23

    And the jump rope version at:

    http://mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=1805&c=23

    Is that what you and your wife remember?

    Cheers!

    Lisa

  22. Charles Says:

    Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been thinkin’
    How to keep your feet from stinkin’ ………………………………..

    We think this may have been a Civil War chant, there were several Reubens in the 13 Tennessee Calvary Regiment. Any thought????

  23. Audrey Says:

    I have a new grand daughter…of course, all the old nursery rhymes and children’s songs come rushing back to mind. I could only remember a couple of verses while singing to my little Isabella. My daughter (the Mom) was curious about the song and my younger daughter (the Auntie) found it on this site. I thought (mistakenly, I guess) that this was a Polish folk song. We used to sing this from a song book in our third grade elementary school in New Bedford, Ma. (circa 1960). Version 1 is the closest to what I remember except I thought the words were
    “all transported far across the Baltic Sea”. It’s all the same and nice to have options. Thanks for this valuable site.
    Audrey in Westport, Ma. (Isabella Liyana’ Grandmother)

  24. Keith Van Allen Says:

    But, why was this tune included in Carl Neilsen’s suite of Danish and Russian Folksongs? I heard this morning on classical radio, but i was taught it by my father as a kid in Virginia, where he grew up as well.Except he sang it as “Rachel, Rachel I been zinking, oh what a fine world this would be, if all the pussy cats were transported , far beyond the Northern Sea.”

  25. Keith Van Allen Says:

    sometimes he sang as “kitty cats” or ”
    puddy tats”

  26. Nepharious Says:

    Rubin, Rubin I been thinkin
    All the while you been drinkin
    Feeding chickens on hot water
    Now they’re layin hard boiled eggs

  27. Moishe3rd Says:

    This is great! What I was looking for is more verses to “Lincoln, Lincoln…”
    Based on this website, I would guess that there are no more verses as “Lincoln, Lincoln” was just a take off on Reuben, Reuben…

  28. Lisa Says:

    Deborah wrote:

    Hello Meg,

    I had just typed in the very same words to see if anyone else had ever heard the song I heard as a child. It went,

    ‘Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been thinkin’, what in the world have you been drinkin’, Smells like whiskey, tastes like wine, Oh My Gosh, it’s turpentine!”

    I was born and raised in a small town called Toronto, Ohio. Very close to PA. border. But, I believe that the song and saying came from West Virginia, where a bridge links Toronto, and Steubenville, to Weirton, W.VA.

    Good Luck on further research.

    Deborah

  29. James M. Lawless, DVM Says:

    This song was inspired by my great-great-grandparents. Their names were (George) Reuben Rikert and Rachel M. (Pettit) Rikert of Schultzville, NY (Dutchess County). Rachel Pettit was born in 1820 in Schultzville. Reuben was born in nearby Rhinebeck, NY in 1815. He was her singing instructor when they fell in love. They were married on October 3, 1840 at her home in Schultzville after the weekly prayer meeting. She died at their farm near Schultzville in 1897 and he died there in 1903. They had 11 children, the 4th Rachel Margaret who married Theodore Lawless my great-grandfather.

    I don’t know how Harry Birch knew the Rikerts, but we were always told the song was about them.

  30. Jon Says:

    Heres the version my dad knows

    “Reuben Reuben I’ve been thinking
    What a strange world this would be
    If all the breweries in Milwaukee
    had a rubber hose attached to me.”

  31. Sue Royer Says:

    One more version: What the heck have you been drinkin’ ?
    Is it whiskey? Is it wine?
    Oh my gosh! It’s Dad’s moonshine!

  32. Brian Says:

    Lyrics I learned:
    Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been thinking, what in the world have you been drinking, is it beer or is it wine, oh my gosh it’s turpentine!

  33. Angela Willard Says:

    My mother who was born in 1921 and is still as sharp mentally as ever told me about this song. We were discussing our experiences with men over our lifetimes and she laughed and said it reminded her of some lines from that song. Thanks for helping me find the rest of the lyrics.

  34. Mano Says:

    The Lincoln version seems to be the same as one from the 1950s, which still referred to Reuben. I remember in the 1960s, the Lincoln Savings Bank appropriated the tune for their radio ads. They changed all the lyrics–except for the “Reuben Reuben I’ve been thinking” part. Naturally it mentioned Lincoln elsewhere. The first time I heard the Lincoln version, I remembered the tune as the bank’s jingle, although I knew it was a song before that. It was heard on the radio regularly by literally millions of people, so I wonder if the association with Lincoln came from there.

  35. Elizabeth Ferrari Says:

    I can’t find origins for this song. Likely not the US because of North Sea reference. Sounds like maybe Scandinavia or Netherlands. Wonder if it’s a translation. Was very popular and in US schoolbooks in the 60s.

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