Crawdad Song — selected recordings, 1933-1967
See also the two related Songbook pages (previously published):
- You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon But You’ve Done Broke Down
- Crawdad Song — lyric (Woody Guthrie version)
Crawdad Song (traditional) aka “The Crawdad Song,” “Crawdad Hole,” “Crawdad,” “You Get a Line and I’ll Get a Pole,” etc.
The obvious, though frequently unacknowledged, connection of “Crawdad Song” and other related American folk songs to the much earlier British folk song “Frog Went a-Courtin’” is explored in the page “You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon But You’ve Done Broke Down.” I originally considered titling that page “You’ve been a good old froggie, but they done turned your wagon into a crawdad, sugar babe.” The 1940s Asch recording of “Crawdad Song” by Woody Guthrie, included below, is followed by the (Asch) Guthrie recording of “Froggie Went a-Courtin’” from about the same time. The two sound like recordings of essentially the same song, the principle difference, apart from the dissimilar lyrics, lying in tempo.
Of “Crawdad Song,” SecondHandSongs.com says:
Folksong originating in the southern United States and first published in a collection of songs in 1917 by Cecil Sharp. This song is apparently a variation of an older traditional work, “Sweet Thing”, which is of African-American origins. “Crawdad Song” is collected as number 4853 in the Roud Folksong Index.
I haven’t included recordings made prior to 1933 in this page because I haven’t yet found any. SecondHandSongs.com identifies an October 1929 recording by Honeyboy & Sassafras as the first recording of the song.
- Ballad of America: American Heritage Music
- Making Music Fun!
- lyri.cc (Doc Watson version)
- Woody Guthrie version
Selected recordings of “Crawdad Song” under various titles:
Lone Star Cowboys — “Crawdad Song” (arrangement by Lone Star Cowboys members Leon Chappelear, Bob Attlesey, and Joe Attlesey) — recorded on 5 August 1933; issued on Bluebird B-6052, b/w “Just Because”
Jim Lewis Lonestar Cowboys — probably from Vocalion 03754, c/w “Who Broke the Lock on the Henhouse Door,” both sides recorded on 24 September 1937
Leroy Martin and unidentified performers (vocals) — recorded, as “Crawdad,” at Cummins State Farm, Camp #1, near Varner, Arkansas, on 21 May 1939 — field recording collected by John A. Lomax and Ruby T. Lomax
Mrs. Vernon Allen — field recording; recorded at a Farm Security Administration camp for migratory workers in Shafter, California on 15 or 16 August 1940
part 1 of 2
From the description by the video provider:
Title: Crawdad Song (part 1 of 2), Contributor Names: Todd, Charles L., 1911-2004 (Collector)Sonkin, Robert, 1910-1980 (Collector)Allen, Vernon, Mrs. (Performer), Created / Published: Shafter FSA Camp, August 16, 1940, Subject Headings: -Shafter FSA Camp-Music-Field recordings-Songs-California — Shafter, Genre: Music Field recordings Songs, Notes: -Mrs. Vernon Allen is the wife of Shorty Allen. Field notes say this was recorded on 8/15/40; phonolog says 8/16/40.
part 2 of 2
- Woody Guthrie (vocals, guitar, mandolin, fiddle)
- Cisco Houston (vocals, guitar)
- Butch Hawes (guitar)
- Bess Lomax Hawes (mandolin, background vocals)
- Pete Seeger (banjo)
- Sonny Terry (harmonica)
musicians for the sessions (from http://www.woodyguthrie.de/discog3.html):
- Woody Guthrie (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica)
- Cisco Houston (vocals, guitar)
- Bess Lomax Hawes (mandolin)
- Sonny Terry (harmonica)
- Leadbelly (vocals, guitar) on “Stewball” (Version 2)
additional recordings of “Crawdad Song”
Al Clauser and his Oklahoma Outlaws — I’ve been unable to verify the date, 1947, given by the video provider, but the recording was evidently included in a 2004 compilation of recordings by the band titled Hot Western Swing 1937-48 featuring Patti Page, Krazy Kat 32.
- Al Clauser biography (Wikipedia)
Lulu Belle & Scotty — recorded as “The Crawdad Song,” c.1950
Evelyn Knight and Red Foley — recorded on 28 November 1950; issued in 1951 on the 78 rpm single Decca 27599, and on the 45 rpm single Decca 9-27599, c/w “Idle Rumors” in each case
personnel, adapted from http://www.wirz.de/music/hoggfrm.htm:
Smokey Hogg – vocal, guitar
Lou “Freddie” Simon – tenor saxophone
Willard McDaniel – piano
Bill Davis – bass
Al “Cake” Wichard – drums
Big Bill Broonzy — Despite the titles given by the video providers, each of the dated recordings below by Big Bill Broonzy was titled “Crawdad Hole” upon original release.
2. Recorded live at the Club Montmartre, Copenhagen, Denmark, 4-6 May 1956 — originally included on the LP An Evening With Big Bill Broonzy, (Denmark) Storyville SLP-114, released c.1962; released in the UK in 1965 on Storyville SLP 114
Sam Hinton — recorded as “The Crawdad Song” — originally issued on the 1957 album Whoever Shall Have Some Good Peanuts (and other folk songs for children), Scholastic Records SC 7530, Folkways Records SC 7530
The Goldenaires Choir — from the 1959 album Songs of the Southern Mountains, VOX VX 26.120
Flatt & Scruggs with the Foggy Mountain Boys perform “The Crawdad Song” for a 1962 episode of the Grand Ole Opry TV series
Doc Watson, Clint Howard, and Fred Price — recorded at Ash Grove, Los Angeles, CA in April 1962*; originally released, as “Crawdad Song,” on the 1963 album Old Time Music At Clarence Ashley’s, Part 2, Folkways FA 2359; later included in the compilation album The Original Folkways Recordings Of Doc Watson And Clarence Ashley, 1960 through 1962, Smithsonian Folkways CD SF 40029/30, released in 1994
- Clint Howard – lead vocal, guitar
- Doc Watson — tenor vocal, guitar
- Fred Price — fiddle
Doc Watson, Clint Howard, and Fred Price — recorded in 1967 for the Seattle Folklore Society; released, as “Crawdad,” on the album Old Timey Concert, Vanguard VSD • 107/08
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)
Honeyboy & Sassafras, 10/29
Cobb & Underwood, 9/29/30
Baxter & Layne (Hack String Band), c1931-32?
Lonestar Cowboys, 8/5/33
Martin & Roberts, 8/29/34
[Texas] Jim Lewis [and his] Lonestar Cowboys, 9/24/37
Cliffie Stone, 1940s?
Evelyn Knight, c 1951?
Burl Ives, ?
* Recording date, location, and musician information adapted from http://www.oocities.org/folkfred/ashley.html (cache)
** S. Hogg is incorrectly credited as the writer of “Crawdad” on the label of the A-side of Fidelity F 3006.