"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


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

  • How Many Biscuits Can You Eat? (File: RcHMBCYE)
  • Pittsburg (Pittsburg Town) (on PeteSeeger13, AmHist1; PeteSeeger39)
  • Bill Cox, "N.R.A. Blues" (Perfect 13090, 1935)
  • Log Cabin Boys, "New Crawdad Song" (Decca 5103, 1935)

Cross references


  • Jess Alexander, "Crawdad Song" (AAFS 617 B1)
  • Mrs. Vernon Allen, "Crawdad Song" (AAFS 4142 B1/2)
  • Mary Davis, "Crawdad Song" (AAFS 1488 A/B1)
  • Girls of the Golden West, "You Get a Line and I'll Get a Pole" (Bluebird B-5167, 1933; Montgomery Ward M-4455, 1934)
  • J. L. Gores, "Sugar Babe" (AAFS 2593 B3)
  • Sam Hinton, "The Crawdad Song" (Decca K-69, n.d.)
  • Honeyboy & Sassafras, "Crawdad Song" (Brunswick 417, rec. 1929)
  • Clint Howard et al, "Crawdad Song" (on Ashley03, WatsonAshley01)
  • Aunt Molly Jackson, "Sugar Babe" (AAFS 827 B3, 1935)
  • Vera Kilgore, "Crawdad" (AAFS 2939 B2)
  • Evelyn Knight & Red Foley, "Crawdad Song" (Decca 27599, 1951)
  • Leary Family & T. Henderson, "Crawdad Song" (AAFS 3574 B1)
  • Texas Jim Lewis' Lone Star Cowboys (Perfect 7-12-55, 1937)
  • Lone Star Cowboys, "Crawdad Song" (RCA Victor 20-2941, 1948)
  • [Asa] Martin & [James] Roberts, "Crawdad Song" (Perfect 13046 [as by Asa Martin]/Melotone 13148, 1934)
  • Leroy Martin & group of convicts, "Crawdad" (AAFS 2671 A2)
  • Alec Moore, "Sugar Babe" (on AAFS 55 B1)
  • Poplin Family, "Crawdad Hole" (on Poplin01)
  • Sims & Mandie Tartt & Bettie Atmore, "Sugar Babe" (AAFS 2704 A3)
  • Joe Turner, "Crawdad Hole" (Atlantic 1001, 1952)
  • Ray Wood, "Sugar Babe" (AAFS 1594 A1)


  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)
  9. Roud #4853
  10. BI, R443


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1917 (Cecil Sharp collection)
Found in: US