The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down is a song written in 1937 by Cliff Friend and Dave Franklin. It is best known as the theme tune for the Looney Tunes cartoon series produced by Warner Bros. Cartoons, used from 1937 to 1969.

The original version contains an introductory verse that leads up to the main part of the song, as a young man tells of his date with a young woman, in which they go to an amusement park and find time to "spark" while riding the malfunctioning carousel. Although there are no verified connections, the tune closely resembles the traditional fiddle tune "Chinese Breakdown".

An adapted instrumental version of the song's main tune became the staple opening and closing credits theme for the Looney Tunes series, most memorably featuring Porky Pig stuttering "Th-th-that's all, folks!" over the tune at each cartoon's end. The first use of the song as the Looney Tunes opening theme was in October 1937's "Rover's Rival", a Porky Pig cartoon.

A different vocal version, sung by Daffy Duck (voice of Mel Blanc), was heard in "Daffy Duck & Egghead", a 1938 entry in the Merrie Melodies series, a sister series to the Looney Tunes, at about five minutes into the cartoon. Daffy also sang a specially-modified version of the song in the 1950 Looney Tunes short "Boobs in the Woods". The tune made a "cameo" appearance in the 1941 Merrie Melodies cartoon "Aviation Vacation".

The first few bars of the song can be heard in the middle of 1937's "Porky's Garden", predating the first use of the song as the Looney Tunes theme by a month.

In 1962, a more modern, atonal variation of the theme was arranged by William Lava for use with the updated opening sequences of new Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts.

In 1983, the song was recorded by the British folk band Pyewackett with vocal by Rosie Cross, on the LP The Man in the Moon Drinks Claret. The liner notes read, "'Finding love for only a dime' . . . A 'Looney Tune' based on a Roy Fox recording from the 1930s."

The song was revived for the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), an animation/live-action blend based upon the cartoons of the 1940s. "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" is performed twice in the film (with substitute lyrics): first by cartoon character Roger Rabbit (voice of Charles Fleischer) and later by his human partner Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), as Eddie is trying to force Judge Doom's weasel henchmen to laugh themselves to death. The lyrics in both sequences were written specifically for the film.

An instrumental version of the tune also appears at the end of Gremlins 2: The New Batch, in Space Jam (1996) (though Merrily We Roll Along plays instead) and at the end of Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). The theme song is also the intro to The Looney Tunes Show and New Looney Tunes.

A small part of the theme song is heard during the "That's All, Folks" title sequences just before the closing credit sequences in the Looney Tunes CGI theatrical shorts since 2010, beginning with "Coyote Falls".

During the late 1960s and early 70s, The Grateful Dead -- who, incidentally, were signed to Warner Bros. Records during that time -- occasionally used this piece as filler material while one or several members of the band were tuning up.


"The Merry-go-round Broke Down" (Looney Tunes theme)

"The Merry-go-round Broke Down" (Looney Tunes theme)

Original Looney Tunes Theme Score

Oh, the Merry-Go-Round broke down
And we went round and round
Each time t'would miss, we'd steal a kiss
And the Merry-Go-Round went
"Um-pah-pah, um-pah-pah
Um-pah! Um-pah! Um-pah-pah-pah!'
Oh, the Merry-Go-Round broke down
And it made the darndest sound,
The lights went low, we both said "Oh!"
And the Merry-Go-Round went
"Um-pah-pah, um-pah-pah
Um-pah! Um-pah! Um-pah-pah-pah!'
Oh what fun - a wonderful time
Finding love for only a dime.
Oh, the Merry-Go-Round broke down
But you don't see me frown
Things turned out fine and now she's mine -
Cause the the Merry-Go-Round went
"Um-pah-pah, um-pah-pah
Um-pah! Um-pah! Um-pah-pah-pah!"
Oh, the Merry-Go-Round broke down

"Daffy Duck and Egghead" variation

Merry-go-round broke down

Merry-go-round broke down

Daffy's version from "Daffy Duck and Egghead"

My name is Daffy Duck,
I worked on a Merry-Go-Round,
The job was swell
I did quite well
Till the Merry-go-round broke down.
(Hoo-hoo! Hoo-hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo-hoo!)
The guy that worked with me,
Was a horse with a lavender eye,
Around in whirls, we winked at girls
Till the Merry-go-round broke down.
(plays flute)
Up and down and round we sped,
That dizzy pace soon went to my head,
Now you know why I'm dizzy
And do the things I do
I am askew [or "a screw"] and you'd be too
If the Merry-go-round broke down.
(Hoo-hoo! Hoo-hoo! Hoo-hoo-Hoo-hoo-Hoo-hoo-Hoo-hoo!)
If the Merry-go-round broooooooookkkkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeee (while stretching his neck so far that the blue line on his neck becomes many blue lines instead of one) down (calmly; not singing)

"Boobs in the Woods" adaptation

(Adaptation of "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down")
Oh people call me Daffy
They think that I am goony
Ah just because I'm happy is no sign I'm Looney Tuney
Oh when they say I'm nutsy
It sure gives me a pain
Please pass the ketchup I think its going to rain
Oh you can't bounce a meatball
Though try with all your might
Ah turn on the radio I want to fly a kite
Good evening friends

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