DESCRIPTION: "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
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1917 (Cecil Sharp collection)
KEYWORDS: animal fishing nonballad
REFERENCES (18 citations):
Lomax/Lomax-FolkSongUSA 34, "Sweet Thing/Crawdad Song/Sugar Babe" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-OurSingingCountry, pp. 298-299, "Sweet Thing" (2 texts, the second being titled "The Crawdad Song"; 1 tune)
Abernethy-SinginTexas, pp. 27-28, "The Crawdad Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-TreasuryOfAmericanFolklore, p. 896, "Crawdad" (1 text, 1 tune)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 86, "Crawdad" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 271, "Crawdad" (1 text)
Scarborough-OnTheTrailOfNegroFolkSongs, p. 103, "Dweley" (1 text, a collection of floating verses including one from this song, one from "The Jawbone Song," and others)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 199, "The Crow-fish Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp/Karpeles-EightyEnglishFolkSongs 62, "The Crow-Fish Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
Coleman/Bregman-SongsOfAmericanFolks, pp. 68-69, "The Crawdad Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sulzer-TwentyFiveKentuckyFolkBallads, p. 18, "Crawdad Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 23, "Crawdad" (1 text)
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 276, "Crawdad Song"/"Honey Babe" (notes only)
Tobitt-TheDittyBag, p. 35, "The Crow-Fish Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, Portia Naomi Crawford, "A Study of Negro Folk Songs from Greensboro, North Carolina and Surrounding Towns," Vol. XVI, No. 2 (Oct 1968), pp. 104-105, "Honey Bee" (1 fragment, 1 tune, which appears to be either "Crawdad" or "New River Train," although it has a "Honey Bee" for the "Honey Babe")
NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, John Foster West, "Folklore of a Mountain Childhood," Vol. XVI, No. 3 (Nov 1968), p. 167, "(Wake up, old man)" (1 short text); article reprinted (with text reset) in Vol. LII, No. 3 (Nov 1968), p. 9
NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, W. Amos Abrams, "Time Was: Its Lore and Language," Vol. XIX, No. 2 (Mar 1971), p. 43, "(Wake up old man)" (1 text)

Roud #4853
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)

cf. "Sweet Thing (I)" (tune, lyrics, and everything else)
cf. "Back to Jericho" (words, pattern)
cf. "New River Train"
cf. "Going Around the World (Banjo Pickin' Girl, Baby Mine)"
cf. "This Mornin', This Evenin', Right Now" (tune, pattern)
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)
Portland Town to Klamath Falls (by Woody Guthrie; tune conjectured by Pete Seeger) (Woody Guthrie, __Roll On Columbia: The Columbia River Collection_, collected and edited by Bill Murlin, Sing Out Publications, 1991, pp. 80-81, with Seeger's notes on p. 82)
NOTES [226 words]: 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 Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians (which uses a "This morning so soon" refrain) mentions crawdads, whereas the one in Sharp/Karpeles-EightyEnglishFolkSongs 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. [Since they're from the same informant, I've now put them together here.]
The versions called "Sugar Babe" should not be confused with "Sugar Baby", aka "Red Rocking Chair." - PJS
Last updated in version 6.3
File: R443

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