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The Beginning of the Armadillos / Roll Down to Rio

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy; notes on I’ve never sailed the Amazon at the Kipling Society]

This poem accompanied Rundyard Kipling’s story The Beginning of the Armadillos from his book Just So Stories. Peter Bellamy sang it as Roll Down to Rio, accompanying himself on concertina, on his fourth album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Keep on Kipling.

Dave Webber and Anni Fentiman sang Follow Me ’Ome and Roll Down to Rio in 1998 on their CD Bonnet & Shawl.

Jon Boden sang Rolling Down to Rio as the 10 February 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

The Young’uns sang Rolling Down to Rio in 2012 on their CD When Our Grandfathers Said No. They noted:

Rolling Down to Rio appeared in The Beginning of the Armadillos, one of Kipling’s Just So Stories, and was given this lovely tune by Peter Bellamy.


Peter Bellamy sings Roll Down to Rio

I’ve never sailed the Amazon,
    And I’ve never reached Brazil;
But the Don and Magdelana,
    They can go there when they will!

Yes, weekly from Southampton,
Great steamers, white and gold,
Go rolling down to Rio
(Roll down—roll down to Rio!)
And I’d like to roll to Rio
Some day before I’m old!

I’ve never seen a Jaguar,
    Nor yet an Armadill
O dilloing in his armour,
    And I s’pose I never will,

Unless I go to Rio
These wonders to behold—
Roll down—roll down to Rio—
Roll really down to Rio!
Oh, I’d love to roll to Rio
Some day before I’m old!