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Lyr Req: 'Farmer to the tater, plant you now...'

Corvidjam 07 May 11 - 11:45 PM
GUEST 08 May 11 - 10:13 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: 'Farmer to the tater, plant you now...'
From: Corvidjam
Date: 07 May 11 - 11:45 PM

Hey y'all,

It's driving me nuts -- heard this song on the radio but didn't get a chance to take down the info:

Like the farmer said to the tater
Plant you now,
Dig you later

Something bluesy/motown, I didn't even get a chance to place the time period.

Help a music lover out!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'Farmer to the tater, plant you now...'
Date: 08 May 11 - 10:13 AM

June 26, 2003

I could have sworn this moldy hipsterism was a Beat saying, dating back certainly no earlier than the late '40s, but it turns out it was used as the title of a song in Pal Joey in 1940, meaning it dates back at least to the '30s. Now I'm wondering how far back it goes, and in what social circle it was coined. Anybody know?

Posted by languagehat at June 26, 2003 05:09 PM
I first heard it on Tom Wait's Nighthawks at the Diner. A little riff called "Spare Parts II and Closing".

Yeah I think I'm gonna plant you now and I'm gonna dig you later. Make like a bakery truck and haul buns. Make like a hockey player and get the puck outta here. I gotta go see a man about a dog. See you later.
Lorenz Hart was the librettist on Pal Joey, the story based on short stories by John O'Hara. Gene Kelly opened the role on Dec. 25, 1940. The main character Joey was considered too disreputable by critics and many panned the musical. Hart died 3 years later.

It is possible that Hart created the phrase, but he also borrowed a great deal from the vernacular he learned during his childhood in Manhattan (he was born in 1895).

Google Trivia: It also appears to be the title of a Gilligan's Island episode.

Posted by: Patrick Taylor at June 26, 2003 07:44 PM

I want to apologize for over-posting. I clicked on one before I could erase it. But the good news is that the saying is an old black saying--I'm sort of surprised that no one mentioned its association with African Americans where the Beats would have picked it up, if they traveled in jazz circles. "Dig" originates in Wolof, the name of and language of a Dahomean people, many of whom were brought to Haiti, to name but one place. My guess would also be, since Wolof is implicated in Voudon, that it showed up in New Orleans as well....

I put the citation up on my blog.


Posted by: A. Populi at June 27, 2003 12:27 PM
Hey, A, no need to apologize -- I worry about too few comments, not too many! I'll check out your blog entry. A minor correction: Wolof is spoken in Senegal, not Dahomey. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to do an entry on the two Benins, one of which used to be Dahomey. Maybe this weekend...

Posted by: language hat at June 27, 2003 01:05 PM
Oh, and thanks for the tip on Second Hand Rose -- next time I head down that way I'll pay a visit!

Posted by: language hat at June 27, 2003 01:12 PM
Face red. Why am I making the Dahomey connection? I look forward to the Two Benins.


Posted by: A.P. at July 1, 2003 01:25 AM

Enjoy the Left Coast. Here's the confusion with Dahomey and Wolof. I was actually thinking of Dahomey in reference to Haiti.


A. P.

Posted by: A.P. at July 6, 2003 06:29 PM
I first heard the line in " The Road To Rio", a Crosby and Hope classic.

Plant you now,
Dig you later,
Lou Norbeck

Posted by: Lou Norbeck at October 22, 2004 02:40 PM
This was also mentioned in Mezz Mezzrow's great autobiography "Really the Blues". The book uses a lot of the 'jazz lingo' from the 20s and 30s.

Here's a review of that book from Amazon:

Poppa Mezz tells it like it was in the beginning of the melting pot of music from New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City & the fields of Mississippi into the clubs in Harlem. A white man who hung & played with the best, & fronted the 1st integrated band. Undoubtedly the truest & most humorous translation of the language of the street, & the life that beat with the Beat. Catch ya on the back side of the Tree, Slot!

Posted by: Peter McGovern at April 12, 2005 04:37 AM

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