Candy Man

Album: The Complete 1928 Sessions (1928)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Candy Man" is a song of such blatant sexual innuendo that even modern listeners will find it audacious.

    He likes a stick of candy just nine-inch long
    He sells as fast a hog can chew his corn
    It's the candy man
    It's the candy man

    All heard what sister Johnson said
    She always takes a candy stick to bed
    It's the candy man
    It's the candy man


    Mississippi John Hurt's innocent-sounding vocals accentuate the song's comic effect perfectly. He sounds so kind and sincere that one can almost convince themselves that he doesn't actually mean anything sexually suggestive at all.

    That's ridiculous, of course, as verse after verse has him singing about his well-endowed candy and the women who enjoy the product.
  • Hurt first recorded this song on December 28, 1928; it was one of 12 songs he did with Okeh Records. He was working as a farmer, and when the records didn't sell well, he just returned to farming.

    His music faded into obscurity until 1952, when producer Harry Everett Smith included some of those old recordings on the highly influential Anthology of American Folk Music. This led to a resurrection of Hurt's career in 1963 after collectors Tom Hoskins and Mike Stewart tracked Hurt down.

    So it was at 70 years old when Hurt was most famous, starting an American tour that mainly included universities, coffee houses (in the '60s, coffee houses were cultural hubs), and the 1963 Newport Music Festival (which was Bob Dylan's first).
  • This song may have been in mind when Robert Hunter wrote "Candyman" for the Grateful Dead. Both songs deal with a womanizing "candy man" who has come to town to stir up trouble. Hunter has never stated this to be fact, but he was an American music scholar and lover of the blues, so it's probably no coincidence.

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