Knife & Fork, Like My Peaches & Shake My Tree (1944) and more

Jeff Prucher jprucher at YAHOO.COM
Tue Feb 15 18:30:55 UTC 2005

--- Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
> At 1:24 AM -0500 2/15/05, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
> >Pg. 799:
> >If you don't like my apples,
> >Then don't shake my tree;
> >I'm not your boy friend,
> >He's after me.
> >
> The first couplet above (but not the second one*) has been a staple
> in blues (and folk, and occasionally rock) songs for ages--well
> before '44, I'd wager.  I've always assumed a direct physical
> allusion here for the peaches and the tree, whether or not that
> assumption is warranted, and as a result it seems odd to me when a
> woman sings the relevant verse (from the perspective of a woman, that
> is).  Of course, I can reconstruct a plausible referent for the
> peaches in that case, but then the tree stumps me.

I've always associated these tree/fruit references with the Song of Songs (here
in the KJV):

This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.

I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof:
now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy
nose like apples;

Whether or not any of the blues etc. uses allude to this directly is not
something I can say, but clearly it's symbolism that's been around for awhile.
(Although it rather seems that the palm tree/grape thing is something of a
mixed metaphor, but who am I to argue with Solomon?)

Jeff Prucher

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