Sweet Thing (I)

DESCRIPTION: "What you gonna do when the pond goes dry, honey, What you gonna do when the pond goes dry, baby?" Sundry verses about catching fish, rural life, and (presumably) sexual innuendo
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1917 (Cecil Sharp collection)
KEYWORDS: nonballad courting sex
FOUND IN: US(Ap,So)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Randolph 443, "Sweet Thing" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 349-350, "Sweet Thing" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 443)
Lomax-FSUSA 34, "Sweet Thing/Crawdad Song/Sugar Babe" (3 texts, 1 tune)
SharpAp 245, "Sugar Babe" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 62, "The Crow-Fish Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, p. 240, "What Kin' o Pants Does the Gambler Wear" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 235, "Sweet Thing" (1 text)

Roud #4853
RECORDINGS:
Callahan Brothers, "Sweet Thing" (Decca 5952, 1941)
Lulu Belle and Scotty, "Sugar Babe" (Melotone 6-08-58/Perfect 6-08-58, 1936)
Lester McFarland & Robert Gardner, "Birmingham Jail" (Brunswick 293, 1929/Supertone S-2031, 1930)
Dad Pickard, "Birmingham Jail" (Banner 6401/Cameo 9197 [as Jimmie Price]/Domino 4349/Domino [Canada] 181171 [as The Gilbert Family] /Jewel 5617/Lincoln 3224 [as Jimmie Price]/Oriole 1594/Pathe 32476 [as Harry "Rocky" Wilson]/Perfect 12555 [as Harry "Rocky" Wilson] /Regal 8792/Romeo 999 [as Jimmie Price]/Homestead 16052/Paramount 12784 [as Col. Phillips, "Sweet Thing"]/Broadway 8123 [as Col. Phillips, "Sweet Thing"]/Apex [Canada] 41025/Crown [Canada] 81171 [as The Gilbert Family]/Sterling 28171 [as The Gilbert Family], 1929; Conqueror 7563, 1930)
Pickard Family, "Get Me Out of This Birmingham Jail" (Brunswick 385, 1929; Supertone S-2068, 1930)
"T" Texas Tyler, "Sweet Thing" (4-Star 1228, n.d.)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Crawdad" (tune, lyrics, and everything else) and references there
cf. "Going Down This Road Feeling Bad" (floating lyrics)
SAME TUNE:
Bud & Joe Billings (pseud. for Frank Luther & Carson Robison) "Birmingham Jail #2" (Victor V-40082, 1929)
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 "Crawdad" 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. 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. Which meant, e.g., that "The Crow-Fish Man (I)" files here even though it's clearly derived from "Crawdad." So one should definitely check all versions of both to get the complete range of material. - RBW
Well, adding to the conundrum, the version of "The Crow-fish Man" in SharpAp *does* mention crawdads, so it gets filed under "Crawdad Song." - PJS
Last updated in version 3.6
File: R443A

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.