Watermelon Spoilin' On The Vine
DESCRIPTION: "O baby, watermelon is spoilin on the vine." The singer's girl is breaking his heart. He wants his letter and ring back. Floating verses [see notes]. "Needle and thread" [let's go down the road] "Make my chimney higher"
EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (Blind Blake Higgs: see WIHIGGS01)
KEYWORDS: courting request rejection floatingverses
FOUND IN: West Indies(Bahamas)
Blind Blake Higgs, "Watermelon Spoilin' On The Vine" (on WIHIGGS01)
Thomas Cartwright and the Boys, "Watermelon Is Spoilin' on the Vine" (1997, on "The Bahamas Islands of Song" Smithsonian Folkways SF 40405 CD [instrumental])
cf. "Watermelon on the Vine" (title line only; see Notes)
cf. "Lynchburg Town" (floating verses; see Notes)
cf. "Liza Jane" (floating verse; see Notes)
cf. "Fly Around, My Pretty Little Miss" (floating verse; see Notes)
cf. Grandpa Jones, "Goin Down Town"
NOTES [242 words]: According to the liner notes by Kayla Olubumni Lockhart Edwards for the Cartwright instrumental -- which has the same tune as Higgs -- "['Watermelon is Spoilin' on the Vine' is] a traditional Bahamian folk song, possibly created during an abundant year of watermelons in the 1920s." Since the Higgs song has little to do with watermelons the question is whether the Edwards note refers to this song or to "Watermelon on the Vine."
The floating verses found in the U.S. are
"Now I wish'd I had a needle/ As fast as I could sew/ I'd sew my baby to my side/ And down the road I'll go" (often in "Liza Jane" and "Fly Around, My Pretty Little Miss")
"Now I wish'd I had ten thousand bricks/ To build my chimney higher/ To stop the mighty big black cat/ From dropping in my fire (see Sandburg's "Goin Down Town.")
Gandpa Jones's recording of "Goin Down Town" (see "Lynchburg Town") has both of Higgs U.S. floaters. In fact, the "needle and thread" verse is closer to the main idea of this song than is the watermelon theme. Higgs's chorus picks up the last line of "needle and thread": "Down the road/ Here we go walking/ Down the road/ Laughing and talking/ Down the road/ Here we go baby/ Down the road."
It seems likely that the following verse is a West Indies floater, but I have no other instances:
I went to the governor's gate/ And I asked her for a break/ I wheeled right round and I stayed right round/ And I give the governor the break - BS
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