"Poison Ivy" is a catchy little tune sung by the Coasters - written and produced by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller for Atlantic Records. It reached the top Billboard position in 1959.
It is a comedic allegory, whether of STDs or just unrequited love or a dream/fantasy girl, I couldn't really say. Many of the songs produced by this group were very funny but almost formulaic. For example "Yakety Yak", "Charlie Brown", and "Along Came Jones" are all hilarious and upbeat in a similar fashion. I won't burden the nodegel with the complete lyrics of "Poison Ivy", including all the la la las and repeated verses and choruses but the prime lines follow at the bottom of this W/U.
The Coasters are one of those groups that have "lived on" through the use of younger replacements for the artists. The record label, not the artists, often owned the names of early groups. In fact there are now 2 "official" Coasters groups who still perform and they are certainly not 60 - 70 years old as the original artists must be. The Coasters were one of the first groups to cross over from rhythm and blues to rock and roll and along with Lieber and Stoller were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
She comes on like a rose but everybody knows
she'll get you in Dutch
you can look, but you'd better not touch.
Late at night while you're sleeping
Poison Ivy comes a creeping around.
She's pretty as a daisy
but look out man she's crazy.
She'll really do you in
if you let her get under your skin.
Measles make you bumpy,
mumps will make you lumpy,
chicken pox will make you jump and twitch.
A common cold will fool you
and whooping cough will cool you
but poison ivy, lord will make you itch.
You're going to need an ocean
of calamine lotion.
You'll be scratching like a hound
the minute you start to mess around.
On a completely different note, the berry of the poison ivy plant is an important food for many birds in North America
. Birds do not get the itch from eating or touching the plant or the oil.
Birds don't digest the seed itself, just the fruity part of the berry...so they fly to the next spot and voila...if one has a lot of birds there WILL be poison ivy showing up in unexpected spots in one's yard. It is fairly easy to control if caught and weeded out while young. I use a double plastic bag over my hand to pull the young plant up, turn it all inside out to cover the plant and then double bag that whole mess again. I've not "caught it" yet, using this method on youngish plants.
In the woods and wilds poison ivy should be left alone to flourish. It is a native plant and has a balance and a place in the North American ecology. It doesn't kill trees the way non-native and invasive vines such as kudzu or ivy do. "Leaves of three, let it be" applies not only to not touching it for one's own sake but to not trying to kill it off everywhere for nature's sake as well.