Washboard Blues

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Washboard Blues is a 1926 popular song written by Hoagy Carmichael, Fred B. Callahan and Irving Mills. Paul Whiteman's orchestra recorded it in 1927, featuring piano and lead vocals by Carmichael.[1]

The song is an evocative washerwoman's lament. Though the verse, chorus, and bridge pattern is present, the effect of the song is of one long, cohesive melodic line with a dramatic shifting of tempo. The cohesiveness of the long melody perfectly matches the lyrical description of the crushing fatigue resulting from the repetitious work of washing clothes under primitive conditions.[2]

Alec Wilder first heard the song on a Paul Whiteman twelve-inch record on which Carmichael both played and sang with the large orchestra.[2]


A copy of the lyrics from the Indiana University archives of the Hoagy Carmichael collection credits F. B. Callahan with the words to Washboard Blues.[3]


The following version is transcribed from the 1927 Carmichael recording with Paul Whiteman's Orchestra and the Rhythm Boys [1]

Mornin’ comes with cloudy skies and rain

Ma po back is broke with pain

My man’s sleepin’, I’se ascrubbin’, chillin’, weepin’

I’se arubbin’, Pains acreepin’, cloes atubbin’

All day long.

Up to dat washin’ soap

And down to dat wattah onct mo’

Head down low—head low—

Up to dat washin’ soap

And down to dat wattah onct mo’

Po’ hans go—oh Lordy.

So weary of scrubbin’, days dreary—

So weary of tubbin’ dem cloes,

Up to de washin soap—

Down to dat wattah onct mo’.

Wash Board Blues.

Never git me gon from heah—

Srubbin’ dirty cloes all yeah—

Dem cloes, dem muckety cloes

Dem raggedy cloes, dem blimey cloes, that's all I know

Up and down, back and forth, all year long

Oh Lordy, wont you hear my song, hear my song.


Washin’ in a shanty on de shor

The rivah swingin on by de doh

Heah dat rivah—lowly callin’

I’se ashivah—nights afallin’

Heah dat rivah lowly moanin’—moanin’ low.

I agoin’ to dat rivah

Goin’ down to dat rivah some day

Hurry day—hurry day—hurry day—hurry

I agoin’ to dat rivah—

Goin’ down to dat rivah some day—

Thro mahself—ma po self—self away—

Oh Lordy

Mus’ akeep scrubbin’—mus’ akeep tubbin’—mus’ akeep drubbin’--mus' akeep tubbin

Them ole dirty cloes—

But I’m goin’ to dat rivah—

Goin’ down to dat rivah some day

Hurry day—hurry day—hurry day—hurry.


  1. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Washboard Blues". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Wilder, Alec (1990). American Popular Song: The Great Innovators 1900-1950. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 374. ISBN 0-19-501445-6. 
  3. ^ "Hoagy Carmichael Collection". webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2009-09-30. 

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