(To learn how to play Crawdad Hole on piano, watch the video below)
The Crawdad Hole is a Southern American Fold song, based on an older tune known as “Sweet Thing”. The Cecil Sharp Collection (1917) is the earliest known printed version of The Crawdad Hole.
I know I’ve been focusing mainly on gospel music on this site. That’s not deliberate, it’s just because I grew up with southern gospel music, and deeply enjoy it. In addition to gospel, I enjoy lots of other kinds of music. Especially older songs. In general, if it’s fun, and makes you want to tap your toes, I like it.
And that’s why The Crawdad Hole, or the Crawfish Hole if you prefer. Because it’s fun. My favorite rendition was from the Andy Griffith show. Andy and Opie sang it together. (Opie really grew up well, didn’t he?)
The lyrics (for this version) originally referred to people who made their livelihood catching crawdads and selling them. If you’ve never had crawdad, you’ve missed a treat. It’s like a little freshwater lobster. I’m badly allergic to saltwater shellfish, but I can eat crawdad without any problems. About once a year a nearby town has a crawdad festival. Haven’t made it to the festival in years, but I always think “Next year I’m going, and I’m gonna’ buy all the crawdad I can carry!”
Crawdad, crayfish, whatever you like to call them, make decent aquarium pets as well. Easy to maintain, cheap to obtain, though they’re highly aggressive. Crawdads will kill and eat anything they can capture. I’ve kept crawdad as pets, and as fish food. Used to have an adult pair of Oscars that really liked them. And they were plentiful in a nearby creek. A friend of mine had a pair, one was missing it’s larger claws. Of course, they were known as “Claude” and “De-Claude”.
Back to the music. Over time, the lyrics have been modified, changed, and improvised. Even the Crawdad lyrics are based on an older song with the same melody. Typical for folk songs, it’s easy to make up nonsensical rhymes and sing along. So there’s not really an ‘official’ version of the song. But most everybody has heard the tune in some fashion or another. If you haven’t, check it out on youtube. There’s a whole heap of people playing and singing Crawdad Hole and having fun.