Watermelon on the Vine
DESCRIPTION: "You may talk about your apples, your peaches, and your pears... But... The watermelon am de fruit for me." "But gimme, oh, gimme me... That watermelon hanging on the vine." The singer begs for, or makes other plans to acquire, the watermelon
AUTHOR: Thomas P Westendorf (1882) (see Notes) (credited to Johnny Marvin on the Whitter recording)
EARLIEST DATE: 1900 (Chamberlain and Harrington)
KEYWORDS: food theft floatingverses
FOUND IN: US(SE) West Indies(Bahamas)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
BrownIII 454, "Oh, Dat Watermilion" (2 fragments, possibly other songs mixed with this, but too short to bother classifying separately); 468, "Watermelon Hanging on the Vine" (1 text)
BrownSchinhanV 454, "Oh, Dat Watermilion" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
ADDITIONAL: David B Chamberlain and Karl P Harrington, _Songs of All The Colleges_ (New York: Hinds & Noble, 1900 ("Digitized by Google"))pp. 22-23, "Gib Me Dat Water-Million" (1 text, 1 tune)
ST Br3454 (Partial)
Bela Lam and His Green County Singers, "Watermelon Smiling on the Vine" (OKeh, unissued, 1929)
The Monroe Brothers, "Watermellon Hangin' on the Vine" (Bluebird 6829)
Ernest Stoneman, "Watermelon Hanging on the Vine" (Edison 51864, 1926) (CYL: Edison [BA] 5191, 1926)
Uncle Dave Macon, "Watermelon Smilin' on the Vine" (Vocalion 15063, 1923)
Henry Whitter, "Watermelon Hanging on the Vine" (OKeh 40296, 1925; rec. 1924)
cf. "There Was a Watermelon" (theme)
cf. "Watermelon Spoiling on the Vine" (title line only; see Notes)
NOTES: Bob Black, who played with the Blue Grass Boys for a couple of years, describes this as Bill Monroe's "theme song" (Come Hither to Go Yonder, p. 40), but obviously it preceded him. - RBW
Chamberlain and Harrington has "words and music by Thos. P Westendorf." Date of 1882 is from Country Music Sources by Guthrie T Meade Jr with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade (Chapel Hill, 2002), p. 477.
See "Watermelon Spoiling on the Vine" for a comment on the Thomas Cartwright recording for Smithsonian Folkways, an instrumental using the same tune as Higgs.
In 1955 in New York I heard a version from a Bahamian man that was close, in text, to the U.S. version I had heard previously from Harry West. The tune was syncopated and not like West's tune at all, and certainly not like the Higgs/Cartwright tune. On the other hand, except for the title line there was no relation to Blind Blake Higgs's "Watermelon Spoiling on the Vine."
The Westendorf text has "If I leaves it dar a smilin' on de vine" and "dat water-million growin' on de vine." I thought "spoiling" made more sense, but I guess not. - BS
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