I Had An Old Coat by Paul Kaplan on Throwback Thursday

This lovely song was suggested by  member Ellen Allard.

Ellen Allard

I originally learned of the story behind this song many years ago from reading several different versions of it in picture book form. When I heard someone sing Paul Kaplan’s version of it (can’t remember who, in fact, it might’ve been Paul himself), I instantly fell in love with the song.

The story resonates with me for a few reasons. It’s about a tailor who takes an article of clothing that has become worn in places – he cuts and sews and creates something else from that article of clothing. And he does that a whole bunch of times until he is left with a button. And the button turns into a song! So it’s really a song about recycling.

Speaking of recycling, I’m a big fan. One of the ways I support recycling is by being a loyal and devoted thrift shopper. I love the idea of buying used knick-knacks or or furniture or clothing because there is already a history, a story, behind the pieces I adopt AND it utilizes what has already been created as opposed to adding more “stuff” to an already overcrowded footprint on the environment. Even though I might not know the story or person(s) attached to the items I bring home, I feel as if I’ve connected myself to someone else and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling!

My father owned a clothing factory. I spent many after school hours or Saturday afternoons wandering through the aisles, the buzzing and whirring sounds of sewing machines all around me, resonating through my ears as the women did their work. One of my fondest memories is having my junior prom dress sewn by one of the employees. She took fabric already in stock at the factory and used it to make my dress. Again, another example of using already existing resources.

I also love the song also because of its’ sequencing nature. With young children, sequencing and patterns are very important. It helps them make sense of their world. 

I perform this song in concert often as a choice for jetting down. I’m usually pretty high energy when I perform and it’s nice to have a few songs in my repertoire that are calmer. This fits the bill.

Plus, it’s just a lovely song and is really fun to sing. And there are great hand motions to go along with it!

I Had an Old Coat, by Ellen Allard.

Paul Kaplan’s version:






  1. Great song, nice cover. I use this for my Silly Goose Goes Green program…or I planned to use it…never got around to it. So many great songs…so little time!

  2. I love this song as well Ellen and Paul. I do it with a dry erase board and draw an old man with a long coat that keeps on changing….I end a lot of my programs with this, citing the recycling theme and the music theme. For a while I tried doing the original Yiddish song, but Paul I just love everything about yours!

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