Shortenin’ Bread

Momma’s little baby loves shortenin’ shortenin’
Momma’s little baby loves shortenin’ bread (x4)
Called for the doctor the doctor said
feed that little baby on shortenin’ bread

My mum used to sing this when I was wee. I loved the tune and the rhythm and used to sing it to myself often. Being a wee Scot’s lass I assumed that the song referred to shortbread and the song seemed to suggest magical healing powers to short bread, which I loved any way. I loved the idea of feeding it to sick babies.

It took me many years to realise that this song was not a traditional Scottish song. According to Wikipedia it was a plantation song in the United States with a more general folk version published in 1900.

It also claims that Brian Wilson of the Beach boys was obsessed with the song telling Alice Cooper to one time that he considered it the best song ever written.

On a more sombre note here is a link to a Youtube video from the Jim Crow Museum which has a version of the song in the background, while highlighting the racist depiction of black people in the marketing of kitchen and food products.