Going To The Zoo

52 years ago, when I bought my first guitar – a mahogany-body Harmony H165 acoustic (aka: the best $50.00 I ever spent)…


… I also bought my first song book: Ramblin’ Boy and other songs by Tom Paxton.


That small 1964 Oak Publication became the source of many songs that I spent countless hours carefully studying and slowly trying to pick out on my trusty Harmony. A small handful of those songs I finally mastered and years later they became valued pieces in my performing repertoire.

One of them – from the section in the book titled “Children’s Songs” – is still among the highlights of that list today: “Going To The Zoo.”

I must have sung “Going To The Zoo” a thousand times: to my kids at home; at their (early) birthday parties; at their kindergarten when I’d go in for a visit. We sang it together when we went to York’s Wild Animal Kingdom in York, Maine; to the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois; and when they were teenagers and we went to the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. I sang it for many years on multiple Sunday afternoons in the Fall to smiling apple-picking families at a couple of local apple orchards.

This past March, I sang it with my grandson when he and I spent a wonderful day together exploring the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC.

Then this morning, my daughter texted to tell me that she and my grandson were going to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park today with his kindergarten class… and they’d been singing “Going To The Zoo” together since last night.

I smiled and my heart was warmed.

Tom Paxton first released “Going To The Zoo” in 1962 on a privately produced live album called I’m The Man That Built The Bridges. The song’s major label debut came in 1964 on Tom’s first Elektra Records album: Ramblin’ Boy.

Here’s the track from that LP.


I hope you sang along to that! (How could you not?!?)

Well, as I always say: “Good music doesn’t get old.” 

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