|"Waterboy" / "Water Boy"|
|Genre||Jazz, Folk, Blues|
|Length||Typically 3-4 mins|
|Composer(s)||Avery Robinson (arr.)|
"Waterboy" (a.k.a. "The Water Boy") is an American traditional folk song. It is built on the call "Water boy, where are you hidin'?" The call is one of several water boy calls in cotton plantation folk tradition.
Originally a black prison work song composed by Jacques Wolfe, a Romanian immigrant, Waterboy became known as a jazz arrangement by Avery Robinson popularized "Water Boy" in the 1920s. From 1949 onwards, it has also been performed by many blues and folk artists.
The opening call to the "water boy" has been said to bear a resemblance to melodies found in classical works by Cui, Tchaikovsky and Liszt, as well as a Jewish marriage song and a Native American tune. The first melody of the subsequent refrain is similar to the old German tune "Mendebras," used for the hymn "Oh Day of Rest and Gladness." 
- Roland Hayes (1922)
- John Lee Hooker (1949)
- Harry Belafonte and Odetta - Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall (1960)
- Jimmie Rodgers (1960)
- Don Shirley Trio (1961)
- Allan Sherman did a parody of the song as "Seltzer Boy" (1962), taken from the album, My Son, the Folk Singer. He was sued by the songwriter's estates for not asking approval beforehand. Sherman paid the penalty for this. (Source: "A Gift of Laughter" by Allan Sherman (1965).)
- Roger Whittaker - The Last Farewell (1975)
- Paul Robeson - The Power & the Glory (1991 compilation)
- The Kingston Trio - Stewart Years (2000 compilation)
- Rhiannon Giddens - Tomorrow Is My Turn (2015)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Waterboy (song).|
Retrieved January 14, 2007 unless stated
- Sheila Tully Boyle, Andrew Buni Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise And Achievement - 2005 Page 147 "The work song, "Water Boy," is built around the cry for water of a gang of condemned and laboring men. Robeson sang the refrain ( the water cry itself, "Water boy, where are you hidin'?") a cappella and very softly, and the verses themselves ..."
- Harold Courlander - Negro Folk Music U.S.A. 1963 - Page 86 "In the cotton fields and the cornfields of the present time, as on the old plantations, the water carrier is in constant demand. The call for the water boy (or girl), in one or another of ... Some water calls such as "Water Boy, Where Are You Hidin'?" have come to be regarded as true songs, and may be heard on phonograph recordings. The water call given here (Example 14) was recorded In Alabama in 1950."
- AMG: Avery Robinson > Songs composed by
- Sigmund Spaeth, Read ‘Em and Weep. The Songs you Forgot to Remember (New York: Halcyon House, 1926, p. 40.
- Spaeth, ibid. See also Gerald Bordman: His Life and Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 146. To hear Mendebras: .
- JSTOR: The Black Perspective in Music, “Isaac Hayes in London” retrieved April 25, 2008
If unavailable, text also contained in Google search result
- Fats Waller - In London, AMG
- Fats Waller - 1938, AMG
- John Lee Hooker - "Water Boy", AMG
- Odetta - "I've Been Driving on Bald Mountain/Water Boy", AMG
- Harry Belafonte - Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall, www.akh.se
- Paul Robeson - The Power & the Glory, AMG