Once more, with feeling! Rousing choruses from Winnipeg acts will put some pep into your 'lather, rinse, repeat' routine

You’re still washing those hands, right?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/03/2020 (1166 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

You’re still washing those hands, right?

Even in this, the era of social distancing, you still need to wash your filthy paws, especially if you’ve been out in the world picking up essentials — but not hoarding toilet paper, right? Good.

You’re probably burned out on singing Happy Birthday twice, which was the recommended song at the beginning of all of this, which feels like approximately 600 years ago. It was my actual birthday this week and even I’m sick of it.

So, to help you accomplish this oh-so-important task in mitigating the spread of coronavirus, here are five Winnipeg songs you can sing whilst lathering up. And if you need a refresher on how to wash your hands properly and effectively, watch this explainer from Dr. John Embil, professor of medical microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba.

The Cat Came Back/Sandwiches — Fred Penner


OK, first of all, have you listened to all of The Cat Came Back? It’s dark. The man around the corner swore he’d kill the cat on sight/So he loaded up his shotgun with nails and dynamite/He waited and he waited for the cat to come around/97 pieces of the man is all that they found. Yikes.

Still, the folk song, penned in 1893 by Harry S. Miller, became a popular children’s song — in no small part because of the 1980 recording by Winnipeg’s Dad, Fred Penner.

The chorus is what you want to focus on here, though. Sing it twice to make 20 seconds. Bonus points if you meow at a public sink. 

Handwashing lyric x 2: 

But the cat came back the very next day/The cat came back, they thought he was a goner/But the cat came back; he just couldn’t stay away/ Give me a “Meow,” go “Meow.”

The chorus from Penner’s other 1980 hit, Sandwiches (penned by Winnipeg Free Press theatre critic Randall King’s brother, Bob King) is also a good one for this task.


Handwashing lyric x 2: 

Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine/I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time/I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch/If I had a hundred sandwiches, I’d eat them all at once.

Taking Care of Business — Bachman Turner Overdrive


The diabolical earworm that is BTO’s 1973 hit is a song everyone knows, and it’s also thematic because the business you’re currently taking care of is washing your hands (every day, every way, but specifically the way you’ve been shown by health officials). The chorus is just shy of 20 seconds, so use the breakdown version at the end. Or, just add a few “taking care of businesses” or “woos” or “work outs.”

Handwashing lyric: 

And I’ll be…/Taking care of business every day/Taking care of business every way/I’ve been taking care of business, it’s all mine/Taking care of business and working overtime/Takin’ care of business… etc.

Bird Song — The Wailin’ Jennys

Don’t worry, three-part harmonies are not required to sing one of the Jennys’ most beautiful songs, from the trio’s 2011 album Bright Morning Stars. There’s something hopeful, too, about lyrics about the promise of spring. 

Handwashing lyric: 

I feel the wind a-blowing, slowly changing time/I’d like to be that wind, I’d swirl and shape the sky/I smell the flowers blooming, opening for spring/I’d like to be those flowers, open to everything.

Hot Dog Stand — Begonia

Remember, pre-social distancing, when one could hold hands from Market Street to the hot dog stand? The chorus from Begonia’s soulful stunner is about 40 seconds but hey, a little extra cleanliness can’t hurt, right?

Handwashing lyric: 

From Market Street to the hot dog stand/I’ll let you hold my hand/I’ll let you hold my purse/It couldn’t get much worse/And you won’t get a thing from it/’Cause I only need a man/from Market Street to the hot dog stand.

These Eyes — The Guess Who

You can do the chorus if you want, but the titular verses of Burton and co.’s 1969 single are almost exactly 20 seconds — and are arguably more iconic. Don’t forget the “doo doo da doo doos,” though, really, how could you? They are essential to the song, and making your handwashing time.

Handwashing lyric: 

These eyes (doo doo da doo doo, doo doo da doo doo) cry every night for you/These arms (doo doo da doo doo, doo doo da doo doo) long to hold you again


Twitter: @JenZoratti

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Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and author of the newsletter, NEXT, a weekly look towards a post-pandemic future.

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