Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 17:26:58 -0400
From: "Peter L. Patrick" PPATRICK[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]GUVAX.ACC.GEORGETOWN.EDU
Subject: Re: Salty Dog
Don't know about the etymology, but the "salty dog" song and lines
quoted are known to me from the repertoire of "Mississippi" John Hurt.
Hurt was a Delta musician whose songs come more from the minstrel
tradition than from just blues, and probably cover a much wider area
than the Delta in their sources, but certainly predate bluegrass.
Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell, in their definitive book on Huddie
Ledbetter (Leadbelly), connect the song to Pinetop Williams, an early
influence on Ledbetter, who performed in turn-of-the-century
Shreveport LA in Ledbetter's formative years (1902-4) as a pianist in
the Fannin St. barrelhouses. I don't know of a Leadbelly recording of
the tune, though.
Just to beat it to death, there IS a reference to what might
be nautical matters in the second verse:
Little fish, big fish, swimmin in the water
Old man can I marry your daughter?
You salty dog!
but that's stretching things a bit...