“The Catfish (Banjo Sam)”


"Catfish, catfish, goin' up stream, Catfish, catfish, where you been? I grabbed that catfish by the snout, I pulled that catfish inside out, Yo-ho! Banjo Sam." Other verses also tall tales, usually involving animals, e.g. the terrapin and the toad


This is complicated, because every one of Brown's verses is associated with "Turkey in the Straw." But the three texts all lack that chorus, and "A" has a "banjo Sam" chorus line of its own. And apparently all had a different tune. When in doubt, we split. - RBW

For some reason, this song makes me think of "Whoa Back Buck," but not quite enough for a cross-reference. It almost certainly derives from minstrel sources, and shouldn't be confused with the popular "Catfish Blues." - PJS

Cross references


  • Poplin Family, "Catfish" (on Poplin01)


  1. BrownIII 182, "The Catfish" (1 text plus 3 fragments)
  2. SharpAp 251, "The Jackfish" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 98, (no title) (1 single-stanza text, regarding the terrapin and the toad, which could be from this or almost anything else); also p. 199, (no title) (1 fragment, probably from this though it's too short to tell)
  4. Roud #7010
  5. BI, Vr3182


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1918 (Cecil Sharp collection)
Found in: US(SE)