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Tit Willow

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Titwillow
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W. S. Gilbert
Date 1885
Source The Mikado (light opera)

"Tit Willow," from Gilbert and Sullivan's light opera The Mikado, tells the story of a sorrowful dicky-bird who sings "willow, tit willow, tit willow" until he plunges himself into the river flowing beneath his tree. The singer interprets the dicky-bird's action to be the result of unrequited love, and, by telling the story to his beloved, threatens to succumb to the same fate should she not return his affection.

Rowlf the Dog and Sam the Eagle performed the first and last verses of "Tit Willow" as the UK Spot on episode 120 of The Muppet Show. The second verse, which explicitly details the dicky-bird's suicide, was cut.

Although the song is a solo in The Mikado, Rowlf, at the piano, enlists Sam to play the part of the dicky-bird, assuring him that the song is from light opera and therefore respectable. Sam becomes increasingly awkward and impatient as he repeats "willow, tit willow, tit willow," and tries to ignore the laughter from the audience, which he does not understand.

An alternate title for the song is its first line, "On a tree by a river a little tom-tit."

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