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It appears as the chorus of an unpublished song composed by Irving Berlin in May 1914: "If you don't want my peaches / You'd better stop shaking my tree".The song "Mamma's Got the Blues", written by Clarence Williams and S.
The song has been widely recorded in a variety of different styles – folk, blues, country, bluegrass, rock – often with considerable variations and/or additions to the original verses.
The lyrics of the original song convey a stoic optimism in the face of emotional setbacks, and the song has been described as a "simple, elegant distillation of the Blues".
The middle verse of Howlin' Wolf's version – "Worked all the summer, worked all the fall / Had to take Christmas, in my overalls" – was an addition to the 1930 original, but had previously appeared in a version recorded by Ray Charles in 1949.
The 'peaches' verse has a long history in popular music.
I got to thinking about Sweet Honey in the Rock the other day when I was donating my clothing, and I wrote about the politics of second-hand clothing.
In learning about what actually happens to donated clothes, I was left with a sick feeling about my own consumption, and how easily I succumb to buying things.Similarities have also been noted that "Sitting on Top of the World" was derived from an earlier song by Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, "You Got To Reap What You Sow" (1929).Tampa Red used the same melody in his version from the same year.Vinson claimed to have composed the song one morning after playing at a white dance in Greenwood, Mississippi."Sitting on Top of the World" has become a standard of traditional American music.This verse and its ubiquitous usage is an example of the tradition of floating lyrics (also called 'maverick stanzas') in folk-music tradition.'Floating lyrics' have been described as "lines that have circulated so long in folk communities that tradition-steeped singers call them instantly to mind and rearrange them constantly, and often unconsciously, to suit their personal and community aesthetics".In later years lines using similar imagery were used in "Matchbox" by Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis; "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band; an early version of "Pipeliner Blues" by Moon Mullican; and, most directly, "If You Don't Want My Peaches, Don't Shake My Tree" by Fox.Ahmet Ertegun was able to convince Miller to pay him US,000, claiming authorship of the line in his song "Lovey Dovey".During the next few years renditions of "Sitting on Top of the World" were recorded by a number of artists: the Two Poor Boys, Doc Watson, Big Bill Broonzy, Sam Collins, Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, and Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys.After Milton Brown recorded it for Bluebird Records the song became a staple in the repertoire of western swing bands.