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In the military, especially during a long march or run, the Sergeant Rock will lead a song called a cadence call, military cadence, or jody song to keep his subordinates' spirits up as they train, march, or work around their base or encampment. The songs cover a variety of topics, including the civilian at home who's sleeping with your significant other (i.e. Jody), the amount of badass your service or unit has compared to the other services or units, the hazards unique to your particular unit or service, your own vulgar and violent tendencies, et cetera.

Although many of the songs are call-and-response, not all of them are. However, they are always sung to the rhythm of the task at hand.


    open/close all folders 

  • Ads for Frosted Flakes cereal over the past few years have adopted one of these as their theme. "We are tigers..." Taken from the Princeton U fight chant.
  • The commercial for Famicom Wars has soldiers chanting a cadence which begins, "Famicom Wars o shitteru kai?" Translation
  • This 1980s ad for Marmite.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In a bit of Cultural Cross-Reference, the Ground Forces trainees in Lyrical Nanoha are shown using the "If I die in the combat zone" cadence of Full Metal Jacket in the manga set before the third season.
  • In Hellsing, Pip and his Wild Geese sing (in the English translation, at least) a real-world obscene cadence call about "Eskimo p***y". Seras's somewhat disproportionate objections to this have been seen as Foreshadowing to later revelations of her traumatic past.
  • Girls und Panzer: Yukari and Erwin sing an old Japanese marching song when walking the long way around to spy on Pravda, "The Snowy March" ("Yuki no Shingun"). It creates something of a dissonant scene because while Yukari and Erwin are having fun and cheerily singing, the song's lyrics are rather depressing (so depressing that the song was banned by the Japanese army in WWII).

    Films — Animated 
  • In Monsters, Inc., Mike uses the melody while training Sulley for scaring.
    I don't know, but it's been said
    I love scaring kids in bed!
  • Ice Age
    I don't know, but I've been told
    End of the world be mighty cold
  • During one of the training scenes in Space Chimps, Titan tries to start off a round, but Ham is having none of it:
    Titan: I am Titan, I am strong!
    Ham: No one wants to sing along!
  • "Colonel Hathi's March" from Disney's The Jungle Book (1967). It's sung by the Elephant Patrol whenever they make their entrance about twice in the film (The first time is when Mowgli and Bagheera accidentally run into them while attempting to get the former back to the "Man-village", and the second is when Bagheera asks them to help him and Baloo find Mowgli before Shere Khan does).
    Hup, two, three, four
    Keep it up, two, three, four
    Hup, two, three, four
    Keep it up, two, three four
    Company, sound off!
    Oh, the aim of our patrol,
    Is a question rather droll
    For to march and drill
    Over field and hill (trumpets)
    Is a military goal!
    Is a military goal!
    Hup, two, three, four
    Dress it up, two, three, four
    By the ranks or single file,
    Over every jungle mile
    Oh, we stamp and crush
    Through the underbrush (trumpets)
    In a military style!
    In a military style!
    • There's also the reprise:
    Oh, we march from here to there
    And it doesn't matter where
    Well, you can hear us push
    Through the deepest bush
    Hup, two, three, four!
    With a military air!
    With a military air! (trumpets)
    We're a crackerjack brigade
    In a pachyderm parade
    But we'd rather stroll
    To a waterhole
    Hup, two, three, four!
    For a furlough in the shade!
    For a furlough in the shade!
  • The orcs in The Return of the King get a Villain Song like this. Where there's a whip, there's a way!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Battleground (1949). When Holley first sees his new unit, the men are exercising to a jody call with Sergeant Kinnie leading. At the very end of the movie, Kinnie and the platoon's survivors strike up the same jody call as they march to the rear and safety, showing the fresh soldiers coming into the battle that their spirit hasn't been broken by the vicious fighting they just endured. The same jody call is the theme music of the movie.
  • Full Metal Jacket, for that matter, has quite a few.
    "Up every mornin' to the rising sun
    Gonna run all day 'till the runnin's done
    Ho Chi Minh is a son of a bitch
    Got the blue balls, crabs and the seven-year itch"
    "I don't know but I've been told
    Eskimo pussy is mighty cold
    Looks good
    Tastes good
    Feels good
    Real good!"
    "I don't want no teenage queen
    I just want my M-14!"
    "This is my rifle, this is my gun,
    This is for fighting, this is for fun!"

  • From Sgt Bilko:
    I can barely move my legs!
    Do me a favor and kill me now!
    Something, something rhymes with "legs"!
    My life is over anyhow!
  • Hot Shots! has a Funny Background Event wherein a group of sailors is doing calisthenics to the theme of The Brady Bunch, and a marching group uses "Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay".
  • Used in D2: The Mighty Ducks, with Gordon riding a go-kart while the Ducks rollerblade along with him.
    I don't know but I been told
    Team USA's gonna win the gold
    Listen up and listen good
    We're all headed for Hollywood
  • The title of the movie She Wore a Yellow Ribbon comes from an old marching song (Civil War/Wild West era). Some versions are quite a bit racier than the movie's version.
  • In the film An Officer and a Gentleman, the Navy officer candidates, led by their own Drill Sergeant Nasty chant:
    I don't know but it's been said
    that Air Force wings are made of lead.
    I don't know, but I've been told
    that Navy wings are made of gold.
    • The film also features the Real Life military classic "Napalm Sticks to Kids". Network television showings generally use an alternate take.
    • When Gunnery Sergeant Foley gives Mayo Training from Hell, he gets to chant the salty "Casey Jones was a son-of-a-bitch".
  • Lampooned in the movie Stripes, when Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, after joining the Army, begin using "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" as a jody during their first march. Bizarrely, it works really well. Not only the right rhythm to it, it even has a call-and-response section....
  • In Renaissance Man, civilian instructor Bill Rago makes up a jody call about Hamlet. By the end of the film, Drill Sergeant Cass is using it for the new batch of recruits.
    Hamlet's momma, she's the queen
    Buys it in the final scene
    Drinks a glass of funky wine
    Now she's Satan's valentine
  • From Kindergarten Cop, during the "Arnold is learning to bond with the kindergarteners" montage and he's leading the kids around the playground in recess:
    Readin', writin', arithematic
    Too much homework makes me sick
    When it's time to pass the test
    Kindergarten is the best!
  • Little Giants, in which the eponymous Giants (a children's American Football team) have this crude cadence insulting their sole opponent's coaches:
    I don't know, but I've been told:
    Butz's butt is green with mold.
    You say thank you, I say please.
    Kevin sits down when he pees.
  • In Heartbreak Ridge, Gunny Highway orders one of his men to give a cadence after witnessing the other platoon give a rather mundane one. The young man complies and belts out an incredibly rude one... right as they pass by a female Marine. Gunny's look is priceless.
    Model A Ford with a tankfull of gas
    Hand full of pussy and a mouthful of ass.
  • During the assault on the Abernathy's house in Small Soldiers, some of the soldiers can be heard chanting "I don't know but I'm been told, Gorgonite blood is mighty cold!"
  • No surprise that Major Payne would make his JROTC squad do these a few times. One example being when they complain about the less-than-luxurious barracks and Payne responds by burying them in a mud patch.
    Love my barracks night and day.
    Won't complain; that's where I'll stay.
  • Monster Hunter (2020): While they are driving across the desert, Captain Artemis lead Alpha Team in the traditional cadence "They Say That in the Army" (aka "O Lord, I Want to Go Home"), Later, she sings it to herself while she is being bait for a a Nerscylla.
    They say that in the army, the pay is mighty fine,
    Give you a hundred dollars and take back ninety-nine
  • In The Bridge on the River Kwai, the iconic "Colonel Bogey March" is whistled in an aversion enforced by the widow of the composer who wrote the original instrumental tune during World War I, as the lyrics added during World War II—a Hail to the Thief-style "The Villain Sucks" Song about Adolf Hitler and Those Wacky Nazis—were deemed too crude. This makes the tune an example of both With Lyrics and Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics at once!

  • Discworld: City Guard trainees being led by Detritus:
    "Now we sing this stupid song
    Sing it as we run along
    Why we sing this we don't know
    We can't make the words rhyme prop'rly"
    Sound off!
    (One, two!)
    Sound off!
    (Many, lots!)
    Sound off!
    (Er... wot?)!
  • Kayla Williams's book Love My Rifle More Than You: Young And Female In The US Army, takes its title from a cadence going:
    Cindy, Cindy, Cindy Lou
    Love my rifle more than you
    You were once my beauty queen
    Now I love my M-16.
  • The Aiel of The Wheel of Time, a Proud Warrior Race, only sing in battle and at funerals. One of their marching songs begins:
    Wash the spears
    While the sun climbs high
    Wash the spears
    While the sun falls low
    Wash the spears
    Who fears to die
    Wash the spears
    No one I know!
    • Mat's revived Band of the Red Hand has "Jak O' The Shadows", sung to the tune of the Garryowen
    We'll drink the wine till the cup is dry,
    And kiss the girls so they'll not cry,
    And toss the dice until we fly,
    To dance with Jak O'the Shadows...
  • The Dragonriders of Pern series uses songs as training/mnemonics, and some of them quite fit this mold.
    Drummer, beat, and piper, blow,
    Harper, strike, and solider, go,
    Free the flame and sear the grasses,
    Till the dawning red star passes.
  • * The first Red Dwarf book has Rimmer trying to start "We are tough and we are mean, Rimmer's Z Shift gets things clean!" Nobody wants to join in.
  • In the novelization of Wishbringer, the Boot Patrol (at this time the alternate version of Festeron's police force rather than a force of enormous summoned boots) likes loud cadences to accompany their near ceaseless patrol for curfew-breakers. The cadences are seemingly impromptu, usually appropriate to their immediate activity and serve to warn people of their approach or pursuit. They do this regardless because they really like this trope; that in turn is enforced because they're part of a ritualized struggle for control over the town's dominant nature and are far too effective whenever people don't hear them coming.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers: Easy Company of the 101st Airborne sings this one as they run up three miles up a steep hill with a stomach full of spaghetti:
    "We pull upon the risers
    We fall upon the grass
    We never land upon our feet
    We always hit our ass
    So highdy highdy Christ almighty, who the hell are we?
    Zim zam, Goddamn, we're Airborne Infantry!"
    • They also do several verses of the Airborne version of Battle Hymn of the Republic (Blood Upon the Risers) "Gory, gory what a hell of a way to die! He ain't gonna jump no more!" later on.
  • In The Pacific, a company-wide version of "Happy Birthday" turns into "how fucked are you now?"
  • The theme music for the first and second seasons of The Unit was a remixed cadence call, "Fired Up, Feels Good." Somewhat snicker-worthy in that they used a Marine cadence call for a show about Army special ops. Oops. A different theme for the next two seasons.
  • The Australian The Late Show released a comedy tape/CD that included,
    I don't know but I've been told
    Fitted sheets are hard to fold
  • Word of God says this is the origin of Adama and Starbuck's exchanges in Battlestar Galactica, though in the show no context is given, and it's not delivered in any particular cadence.
    Hey, Starbuck, whaddya hear?
    Nothing but the rainnote , sir
    Then grab your gun and bring in the cat
    Boom boom boom
  • Used in Stephen Colbert's Basic Training experience as part of the "Operation Iraqi Steven: Army of Me" week of shows recorded in Baghdad, Iraq.
  • There was a Rottentrolls spinoff/Christmas Special called Combat Sheep: Don't Flock (or something like that), which included a convention of people who make up training jodys, with many short gags of having one of them speaking solely in cadence calls. One example:
    I must say that I'm in shock;
    I've spilled Tango down my sock
  • In the Red Dwarf Season Four episode "Meltdown", the waxdroids who Rimmer has appointed himself General of are led in a marching song by a robot Elvis Presley.
    "All we do is a kill and slay
    "Don't care we if we get blown away!"

  • Modest Mouse's "I Came As A Rat"
    Well I don't know but I've been told\\You'll never die and you never grow old
  • The late Captain Jack, of DanceDanceRevolution fame, and his (well, ''their'') eponymous song. Makes sense, since Frankie Gee (the lead singer) was a soldier in the US Army, and the military theme was pretty much his entire stage persona. His trademark song is adapted from a very common military jodie, as well as his title.
    Ejo, Captain/Whiskey Jack
    Bring/Meet me back/down to the railroad track
    Gimme a [gun/bottle/woman] in my hand
    I wanna be a [shootin'/drinkin'/fuckin'] man
    Left, right, left
    The military step
    The Air Force rap
    The Seventeen is the best
    Gooooooooooooooooooooooooo left go right go pick up the step, go left go right go left...
  • Christina Aguilera sampled a Marine cadence called "Tarzan and Jane Swinging On a Vine" in Candyman.
    • Which borrows heavily from The Andrews Sisters' 1941 song Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, something of a musical Genre Throw Back.
  • Madness closed out their album One Step Beyond Album with a very short military-style cadence called "Chipmunks Are Go!"
  • The original "Sound Off" was adapted into a big 1951 novelty hit for bandleader Vaughn Monroe, with a popular R&B cover a few years later by Titus Turner (who curiously changed "Jody" to "Alvin" in his version).
  • “Das Boot” by Hanzel und Gretyl is a Call And Response metal song done in this fashion, complete with a distorted voice counting the cadence in the background.

    Newspaper Comics 

  • Radio station WCPT in Chicago, a progressive (liberal) radio station, used this cadence during commercial breaks several years ago:
    I don't know but I've been told
    Right-wing lies are getting old
    So tune your dial to 'CPT
    Progressive talk for you and me!

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In his 2002 Broadway stand-up show, Robin Williams lampooned the Swiss Army knife's perennial inclusion of a corkscrew, imagining a Swiss Drill Sergeant Nasty explaining to raw recruits how to open a bottle of wine under fire. "I don't know but I've been told, Chardonnay must be served cold..."
  • The D-Generation had this; "I don't know but I've been told, fitted sheets are hard to fold..."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a galaxy's worth of potential hymns and chants for armies of the Imperium, but the only lyrics provided are the six hundred and sixty-six words of the Grey Knights' Canticle of Absolution and the Sisters of Battle's "Fede Imperialis." Fortunately where the rulebooks fail, Dawn of War provides.

  • Parodied in Seussical: The Musical with the soldiers chanting "Green Eggs and Ham".
  • In Spamalot, the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a cadence is used to foreshadow a character's sexuality and combine a reprise of a previous song with another Flying Circus reference. (If you don't get the joke, watch the Lumberjack sketch.)
    I don't know but it's been said
    We're off to war, we're not yet dead
    Become a knight and you'll go far
    In suspenders and a bra
  • The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) has one for Joshua and his soldiers:
    Gather round it's time to go!
    Kick some ass in Jericho!
    Listen up, now here's the news!
    We're taking Israel back for Jews!
    No sound!
    No noise!
    Let's go down and kill goys!
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opts for puns:
    One, two! One, two!
    We not only fought, but we won, too!
    Left, right! Left, right!
    There's none of the enemy left, right?
  • The Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Newsies has this chant:
    Newsies need our help today
    Tell 'em Brooklyn's on the way
  • Strange Magic is a JukeBox Musical the marching fairy and elf army sing "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: After finding Amane Suou very close to masturbating in his bed, Yuuji makes up a cadence when running with Makina and Amane to class to mock her for it. Makina cheerfully sings along, seemingly oblivious as to the lyrics, while Amane begs them to stop.
    Suou Amane's a bitch in heat!
    She likes to roll in guys' bedsheets!


    Web Original 
  • Skippy of Skippy's List loves to screw around with these.
    58. The following words and phrases may not be used in a cadence- Budding sexuality, necrophilia, I hate everyone in this formation and wish they were dead, sexual lubrication, black earth mother, all Marines are latent homosexuals, Tantric yoga, Gotterdammerung, Korean hooker, Eskimo Nell, we've all got jackboots now, slut puppy, or any references to squid.note 
  • During the RiffTrax on "Women In Blue", a short film about women in the Navy, Mike Nelson comes up with one of his own: "I don't know but I've been told, quiet, dear, the men are talking". It's enough to crack Bill and Kevin up.
    I don't know but I been told
    Orcs strong but they not smart.
    • Or
    Orc can't spell but it Mickey Mouse.
  • Key & Peele's "Sound Off" follows an Army sergeant leading his unit in one as they jog, which turns to laments about he'll end up a homeless Shell-Shocked Veteran while Mark Wahlberg plays him in movies. The last line is enough to cause them to scatter.

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • There's one one when Principal Skinner rejoined the Army. Skinner disapproved of the version the recruits already knew, and decided to make it more educational.
    "I don't know but I've been told
    The Parthenon is mighty old"
    (How old?)
    "We don't know!"
    • There's also a parody one in the episode where Bart and his friends went to war against Nelson:
      "We are happy, we are merry
      We've got a rhyming dictionary"
    • There's another reference in the episode where the kids go to military school. "Company L? But they smell!" "Yes, we've all heard the song."
  • In a Taz-Mania short where the family goes hiking and it starts to rain, somebody calls for a cadence and Taz chants:
    Taz hate water, Taz hate water
    Taz hate water, Taz hate water
  • Referenced in the Futurama episode "War Is The H-Word" — the officer's club has a sign outside reading "We don't know but we've been told our beer on tap is mighty cold."
  • In the Family Guy episode "Saving Private Brian:"
    West Side Story, Anything Goes
    Two of our favorite Broadway shows
    Miss Saigon and Cabaret
    Overrated I should say.
  • In Animaniacs done solely by a Drill Sergeant Nasty:
    Recruits smell and that's no lie
    Hate your guts, gonna make you cry
    Call me smart, call me inspired
    You're gonna march 'til I get tired.
    • In the same episode
    Drill Sgt: I don't know but I've been told
    Army life is mighty bold
    Every night before retreat
    Yakko: We order out for luncheon meat.
  • In The Oblongs, the Debbies have such a song when earning money for a Girl Scouts (or "Little Amazons") competition. The lyrics contain advice for upper-class debutantes.
    I don't know but I've been told
    Marry a man who's rich and old
    I don't know but it's been said
    Don't sign a prenup when you wed.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!:
    I don't know but I've been told
    Gigglepie accessories are seperately sold.
  • In Ozzy & Drix:
    I don't know but I've been told
    Hector's feet have stinky mold.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Earth Camping":
    I don't know but I've been told
    I don't know but I've been told
    Camping songs will never get old
    Camping songs will never get old!
  • In Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars, Candace does one as part of the song "In the Empire":
    I don't know, but I've been told
    The Rebels need to be controlled!
    We'll round 'em up and put 'em all in stocks,
    But first we gotta get Darth Vader's socks!
  • In the Rugrats episode "Cool Hand Angelica", day camp is portrayed very similarly to boot camp. When the counselor on the bus suggests a sing-along, the song they sing comes off as this:
    Packed my white bread and salami
    Then said "Bye-bye" to my mommy
    She and daddy turned me loose
    With a canteen full of apple juice

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television. Songs like this are very much a part of life in the armed forces, especially during basic training since they allow a person to focus on something other than the monotonous/unpleasant job at hand. They are particularly common in the US Armed Forces, which are generally accepted to have originated the "Jody Call", which was popularized by black soldiers during World War II (call-and-response songs are an integral part of Black American culture). Specifically, "Sound Off" was originated during a 1944 marching drill by Willie Lee Duckworth, a black private from Georgia, and quickly spread throughout the military. A simple Google search for "Jody Calls" will yield many examples of these songs. Unfortunately, the traditional whimsical tone of Jody Calls isn't immune to abuse, and on occasion, soldiers have voiced discomfort about Jody Calls they've felt are too racist or homophobic. This trend seems a minor issue at best these days, and most calls (like the ones listed here) certainly aren't meant to be taken as the literal meaning of their words.
  • However, at least in the U.S. Army, the really rude ones from the 20th century have long since been discontinued, and even swearwords and double-entendres are rare. This is in keeping with military policies against sexual harassment (since rude songs, like dirty pictures, can be a form of "hostile environment" sexual harassment even if they are not directed towards a specific servicemember).
  • Soldiers in the Russian military have been known to use the "Spongebob Squarepants" and "Barbie Girl'' as jody calls.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Jody Call, Cadence Call, Military Cadence, Jody Song



When patrolling an area, the Automatons will bark out a marching cadence to keep themselves rhythmically in step, with patriotic lyrics such as "CYBERSTAN! CAN'T KEEP HER DOWN!"

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoundOff

Media sources: