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International Music & Culture
A place for poems, songs, rhymes and traditions from around the world for both kids and grown-ups to enjoy!

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Donna Lane wrote asking about a song from her childhood:

There is a song my grade school teacher taught me that I have taught my children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their kids.  I would love to have the music to it and the entire lyrics.  The song is Tamale Joe.

It goes:

Tamale Joe he is the man in town, who makes his living just by going round. And selling from a pushcart all day long, to people who will buy and listen to his song.

It then has a round:

Hot Tamales sure are tasty, always made of finest pasty, so delicious and nutritious, you will like them, so buy them now.  Highly seasoned, that’s the reason, appetizing, tantalizing, buy them on the corner of the street, WHAT A TREAT!

The other singer sings: 

T A M A L E S, T A M A L E S, only 10 cents, buy them now, T A M A L E S, T A M A L E S, Tamale Joe sells ‘em on the corner of the street.

WHAT A TREAT!  

I have been looking for the lyrics and music for this old favorite for years and cannot locate.  I assume my teacher either passed the song down or found it in a children’s folk song book.  Some of my best songs were from those years.   

I hope you can help me with this one. 

Donna Lane 

If anyone can help with this song, please comment below.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

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This artilce was posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 at 12:04 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, Languages, Questions, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

22 Responses to “Does Anyone Know the Song Tamale Joe?”

  1. Jan Richards Says:

    Tamales hot tamales 10 cents is not too many for to eat

    Tamales hot tamales Tamale Joe sells em on the corner of the street

    What a treat!

    I went to elem school in Akron Ohio in the 1950’s where I learned this song.

  2. DarcyO Says:

    I just Googled Tamale Joe and found your blog post. I learned the song in junior high.

    Second verse:
    When Joe he crossed the sea from Trinidad
    An old four-string guitar was all he had
    But he could sing Calypso just the same
    And twasn’t very long
    He made himself a name

    Chorus

    His cart is white and oh so very neat
    Its little bells a’tinkle down the street
    And always in the steam pot on the top
    Tamale Joe will have tamales nice and hot

    We learned it in three or four parts. I can remember the chorus in two of them; the words were different.

    Hot tamales, hot tamales
    Ten cents is not too many for to buy
    Hot tamales, hot tamales
    Tamale Joe sells them on the corner of the street
    What a treat

    Tamales, tamales only ten cents
    Buy them now
    Tamales, tamales
    Tamale Joe sells them on the corner of the street
    What a treat

  3. Mitzi Says:

    The bass chorus line went something like this:

    Hot tamales sure are tasty
    Always made from finest pastry
    So delicious and nutritious
    You will like them so buy them now
    Highly seasoned that’s the reason
    Satisfying, tantalizing…(I’m not sure on these two words)
    Buy them on the corner of the street
    What a treat!

    I have a large family and have wanted my kids to learn this song for fun! They refuse! LOL I used to sing this song in junior high choir in the late 70s. I LOVED IT! It was one of our choir’s favorites. I would also like to find the music for it, but haven’t had any luck in my searches. Let me know if anyone finds it!

  4. Greg Wilson Says:

    We performed that song in 1969 in Washington, DC as part of All Choral Music Festival. We didn’t do the second verse.

    The song is an ethnic mess! Tamales are traditional Mexican food; Trinidad & Calypso go together, so does the quatro or four-string tenor guitar; the music’s almost a cha-cha-cha, as I remember it. And tamales aren’t made with “finest pastry”, are they?

    These things have been on my mind since sixth grade, when we learned and sang it. I still sing it occasionally. Maybe I’ll figure out the chords and post a YouTube of it! Thanks for the lyrics, y’all!

  5. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for writing Greg. Please share your youtube with us if you make one!

  6. robert Says:

    to Greg — I, too, sang in the DC All-City Choral Music Festival at Canstitution Hall in 1969. YEA! I still know someone who has the record that was made from that recording. “Tamale Joe” is still in my bones…

  7. LeVon Gaither Says:

    To Greg and to Robert…I was also a member of the DC Youth Chorale that performed at the Constitution Hall in 1969. We practiced at a Jr. High School that was just off of South Dakota Avenue…in that area. Mr. Owens was one of our Music Directors back then.

    I also played in the DC Youth Orchestra at the Constitution Hall as well. We practiced at Calvin Coolidge High School in NW, DC.

    My! It’s a small world, isn’t it? :)

  8. LeVon Gaither Says:

    To Greg and to Robert…remember this song? This was another song that we sang…”The Ash Grove”

    http://youtu.be/MoX6T9Dhn9g

    and there was another one that went: “Haste! Haste! Shepherds neighbors, pipes and tabors are tuning the strings…Come now leave your labor, dance to the sound of spring…Fair maids smile…hands clasp hands…hearts are beating in tune, in tune with May, then COME, COME, COME!!! COME SHEPHERDS ALL!!! Good friends and neighbors leave your labors, pipes and tabors are tuning the strings…
    Trip so neatly, smile so sweetly, down the meadow and back again…

    I know the words may be kinda screwed up, but if you sang it, I’m certain that it possibly rings a bell or makes sense? LOL!!! :)

    TGC!!!

  9. dju joao Says:

    Does anybody know where one can get a copy of the recording made at Constitution hall?

  10. Debbie J Says:

    This song has stuck with me since high school choir days, 1969. I finally googled it to find out the words I’d forgotten and found you all. So disappointing that there’s not much on the internet about it, not even a recording on u-tube. Maybe one of you who remembers how it all went could sing it and post it for the rest of us??

  11. Jessie Says:

    I can’t believe I found commrades in song! This is one of those crazy tunes that I haven’t been able to shake since the 1950’s in Ontario, Canada! The people here have come up with many more lyrics than I ever remember our music teacher giving us. I think she mainy used it as a “tuning” exercise:
    Hot tamales sure are tasty.
    Always made from finest pastry
    You can find them on the corner of the street.
    Does anyone remember a “girlie” game played with a long elastic called a Yokus rope? The object was to get your legs tangled up and then free by the time the lyrics were sung:
    Yokus in a kysa, yoke a daw dee day, tang tang soba, saw doo, saw day!

  12. Lisa Says:

    Hi Jessie – We have a whole blog thread about Yoki and the Kaiser with lots of comments by people writing in and a song page on it here. Enjoy! -Mama Lisa

  13. Vanessa (Brown) Jones Says:

    I learned the song in 5th grade and was actually a part of a larger musical production of young people from elementary and junior high schools in the District of Columbia – who sang the song as part of a collection of songs we sang that were translated into an album. It’s funny that I came across this posting – as I am really looking for that album now. Recorded in 1968-69; at a large hall – maybe DAR Constitution, Kennedy Center or maybe a high school. The song Tamale Joe is such an upbeat song – and it still rings in my spirit. Oh, how I want to find that album!

  14. Vanessa (Brown) Jones Says:

    OMG – after reading all of the posts – I did not the first time – you are the folk I’ve been looking for. Where can I get a copy of that recording as I was a part of the DC All City Choral Musical Festival and represented Langdon Elementary School. I was in the 5th grade and in the past 3 days I have reached out to the Library of Congress, Summer Musuem, the DC Public School System and about five minutes ago – the principal from Langdon responded back to me that they would look to see if they could locate the album. I now have more details to share with the Library of Congress too. The ‘Tamale Joe’ and ‘Haste Haste’ Song has been in my spirit for decades – no joke.

  15. Teresa Millward Says:

    I am desperately looking for the words to haste haste shepherds and neighbours. My mum has just died and we used to sing it when I was a little girl. I can remember a fair bit but probably have got some of it wrong over the years,
    If anyone has it I would love to know.

  16. LeVon Gaither Says:

    Hey Teresa! Are you on Facebook? I’m listed as LAntoinette Gaither…I was in the DC Youth Chorale from JC Nalle Elementary School and also from Kelly Miller Jr. High.

    I still know all of the words to he song that begins “Haste! Haste!” I’ll copy and paste them in another posting shortly to come, okay? It’s amazing to see how many of us still remember those days. They were wonderful accomplishments and experiences while we were all young.

  17. Vanessa Jones Says:

    Hi Levon. Do you have a copy of the album from 1968 at Constitution Hall? Do you know where I might find one? I have inquired many places including DC Public School system; my elementary school – Langdon; the Sumner libraray, MLK, Constitution Hall, Washington Post etc. The post sent me an article covering the event in 1968. I even reached out to Tony Perkins at Fox 5 news. He did respond and wished me well in my search and gave me two other organizations related to copyrighting – no luck yet.

  18. Linda Vazquez Says:

    Tamales, Hot Tamales, Tamale Joe sells them on the corner of the street,
    What a treat, Can’t be beat.

    My teacher in 1956 taught us this tune. I can still sing it!
    Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  19. Lisa Says:

    That’s great Linda! Would you like to sing it for us? :) -Mama Lisa

  20. Gretchen Lynch Says:

    We sang this all the time at Camp Aloha in VT when I was a kid… I’m pretty sure my grandmother who was the music director there for many years brought it with her, but long before 1969…. she worked there in the early 60s, I believe. They are still singing it now!

  21. Harriet B. Says:

    I sang this song in the Washington D.C. All-City Chorus in 1967! What a joy to see so many others with the same memory of music in the schools!

  22. neil mathews Says:

    Feb 2013 post – lyrics …. Haste Haste sheperds and neighbours shadows are falling music is calling, come now leaving your labours, dance on the green till the close of the day (chorus).. pipes and tabours are calling the tune so come come come, good sheperds all, skip so neatly smile so sweetly down the meadow and back again. Now choose queen of the may, deck her in hawthorn gay, then chose …..gallant like crown for our king, so , haste haste etc.

    Any good ? Not heard of nor seen the song since I was 5 (50 years ago) – live in the UK and do a lot on the folk scene…and play this on the accordeon- noce chord sets !
    Neil

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