They Just Don’t Write Songs Like They Used To: An Interview With The Lyrical Genius Behind “Nick Nack Paddy Whack”

by Jackson Weaver

Hey, I’m Sweet Fingers Dug McCoy, lead singer of Remember the Funky Titans and co-writer of “This Old Man.” I’m here today to finally reveal the meaning behind the song to give insight into our band’s creative process.

This old man he played one, he played nick nack on my drum

We thought this would be a pretty good hook, you know? They would ask “who’s this old man? What does it mean to play nick nack? Then bam! We’d hit em’ with the chorus.”

Nick nack paddy wack give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

Wow, I mean what a powerful chorus. When Smooth Johnny J wrote this one up, I was blown away. If it’s not already immediately obvious, the old man is based off Pappy from the hit Canadian TV show, Rolie Polie Olie. But our twist was that he exhibits similar tendencies to the drug addict who lived outside my apartment.

This old man he played two, he played nick nack on my shoe

Oh I forgot to explain what nick nack is, when you “play nick nack” you are performing a purely instrumental version of “Down Under” by Men at Work. So, it’s pretty impressive to play nick nack on any shoe, let alone my size 5.5 camouflage Crocs.


I know what you’re thinking, the chorus again? We just wanted to make a statement about non conformal songwriting.

This old man he played three, he played nick nack on my tree.

When the drug addict played “Moonlight Sonata” on the paper birch growing outside my window, I knew this line needed to make it into the song.


This old man he played four, he played knick-knack on my door

We originally were going to cut this line, but we couldn’t just skip from three to five, so it stayed.


This old man he played five, he played nick nack on my hive

I’m not going to lie, this never happened. But we had just watched the episode of Duck Dynasty where they vacuumed bees out of a hive to get honey, and we couldn’t just ignore the underlying conflict of man versus nature.


This old man he played six, he played nick nack on my sticks

If you all remember, the Pappy from Rolie Polie Olie was a maestro of the wood. This line was purely an homage to his musical excellence.


You might be getting kind of bored by the chorus by now. But I’d bet my third testicle that you’re singing along to it.

This old man he played seven, he played nick nack up in heaven

R.I.P to the old man, he died doing what he loved. Just jammin’ out on random objects. It was tragic to hear about him getting kicked in the face when he played knick knack on a horse. We would’ve included that in the song, but no numbers rhyme with horse.


This old man he played eight, he played knick-knack on my gate

The gates of heaven have let in another angel, and he’s banging away up there, reminding everyone of a place where “women glow and men plunder.”


This old man he played nine, he played nick nack on my line

We had pretty much run out of ideas at this time, and we were kinda locked into the whole counting to ten things. So our bassist Goodtimes Donnie Lugioni just shat out a few bars while lyricist and backup singer Mikey Michael used to finish up the song.

This old man he played ten, he played nick nack on my hen

We tried this ourselves, in honor of the old man. But it must’ve been that crack, because when we did it, it just sounded like “The Boys are Back in Town.” We may never be graced by a musical genius like him.


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