Friday, January 20, 2006:

Candy Man, Candy Man, Candy Man

Charlie McCoy -- Candy Man Blues
Pig Iron -- Candy Man
Taj Mahal -- Candy Man
Yesterday Jordan at Said the Gramophone posted Rev. Gary Davis' version of this blues classic, with a bit of puzzlement over the muddled delivery, which led me to remember I have a few different songs by that name. My first thought was that they'd all forked from Mississippi John Hurt's version, but on listening to them back to back I find that the Rev. Gary Davis version's lyrics are completely distinct from the Pig Iron one here (modelled on Hurt's song), with no lyrical overlap. Charlie McCoy's country-blues song is distinct from both of the others.

Are these candy men all the same? Not likely; if the songs share anything it's probably just a penchant for double entendre, which is hardly uncommon in early blues. has it that a candyman is a person who sells or supplies illegal drugs; the Oxford English Dictionary has it that a candyman is a seller of candy or, in northern England, "bum-bailiff or process-server"; and is the only one to mention the man with the hook. Of all the possible meanings, I think that's the one least relevant to the songs.
[An exhaustive Charlie McCoy/Kansas Joe McCoy CD, which is only half as exhaustive as this one plus Vol. 2, and which in any case is probably too exhaustive for most people, including me on most days.]
[Pig Iron's CD is long out of print]
[Taj Mahal -- An Evening of Acoustic Music. I love this CD, unrepentantly, even the oomphing goofiness of "Cakewalk into Town," but most people I've played it for have found it a bit off-putting.]

Go to StG to pick up the Rev. Gary Davis version.


grateful dead have a nice Candy Man as well. Most likely, jerry's reference to his hook up for china white.

I have heard that one, though I don't have it on CD. I suppose if I posted that one and the Roy Orbison track, with a self-link, I could see if the CandyMan kills people through the internet too.

Candyman, Candyman, Candyman !
(shit, it doesn't work)

There's a song in Peter Kennedy's FOLKSONGS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND called "The Travelling Candyman" - the candyman being a sort of roaming antiques dealer, buying and selling old clothes, silverware, crockery, et cetera... a rag-and-bone man, essentially.

HOT TUNA - HOT TUNA - HOT TUNA - ow! I just got poked in the eye by Papa John Creach's bow!

Re: Dead song Candyman
Mr. Benson was a music attorney in Memphis. He and his wife went to visit the Dead on their Calif. farm. Mr. Benson dallied with one of their women, and this is what the song is about. The Candyman is a ladies' man. I know about the origin of this song because Mr. Benson told me about it himself.

hey carol! i live in memphis and a buddy told me he used to live down the street from an old crooked, undercover cop that used to frequent the old highland strip area...this guy was known as the candyman and used to fake a limp and carry a cane..the cane was filled with various drugs that he would sell and selectively bust people...he didnt bust everyone though....

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