“Crawdad”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1917 (Cecil Sharp collection)
Keywords: animal fishing nonballad
Found in: US

Description

"You get a line and I'll get a pole... And we'll go down to the crawdad hole, Honey, baby mine." "What you gonna do when the lake runs dry, honey...." Sundry verses about catching crawdads, rural life, and (presumably) sexual innuendo

Notes

Songs with this tune and metrical pattern turn up throughout North American tradition; like the limerick, this skeleton seems to have become a favorite framework for humorous material. - PJS

This song poses a conundrum (hinted at in Paul's comment), because it merges continuously with the "Sweet Thing" family; they use the same tune (at least sometimes) and ALL of the same verses. Roud lumps them.

Chances are that they are "the same" song (whatever that means). But the tenor of the song changes somewhat with the presence or absence of a crawdad; after initially lumping the song, the Ballad Index staff decided to split them, based solely on mention of a crawdad. But one should definitely check all versions of both to get the complete range of material. - RBW

Just to confuse things further, the version of "The Crow-fish Man" in SharpAp (which uses a "This morning so soon" refrain) mentions crawdads, whereas the one in Sharp/Karpeles-80E apparently doesn't. So the former is filed here, the latter under "Sweet Thing (I)." Sharp also notes that his informant learned the song from an African-American singer.

The versions called "Sugar Babe" should not be confused with "Sugar Baby", aka "Red Rocking Chair." - PJS

Same tune

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. Lomax-FSUSA 34, "Sweet Thing/Crawdad Song/Sugar Babe" (3 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Botkin-AmFolklr, p. 896, "Crawdad" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. PSeeger-AFB, p. 86, "Crawdad" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 271, "Crawdad" (1 text)
  5. Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 103, "Dweley" (1 text, a collection of floating verses including one from this song, one from "The Jawbone Song," and others)
  6. SharpAp 199, "The Crow-fish Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 23, "Crawdad" (1 text)
  8. DT, CRAWDAD
  9. Roud #4853
  10. BI, R443