Dirty blues

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dirty blues (also known as bawdy blues) is a form of blues music that deals with socially taboo and obscene subjects, often referring to sexual acts and drug use. Because of the sometimes graphic subject matter, such music was often banned from radio and available only on jukeboxes. The style was most popular in the years before World War II, although it experienced a revival in the early 1950s.[1]

Many songs used innuendo, slang terms, or double entendres, such as Lil Johnson's[1] "Press My Button (Ring My Bell)" ("Come on baby, let's have some fun / Just put your hot dog in my bun").[2] However, some were very explicit. The most extreme examples were rarely recorded at all, a notable exception being Lucille Bogan's obscene version of "Shave 'Em Dry" (1935),[3] which Elijah Wald has noted as "by far the most explicit blues song preserved at a commercial pre-war recording session".[4]

The more noteworthy musicians who utilised the style included Bo Carter, Bull Moose Jackson,[1] Harlem Hamfats, Wynonie Harris, and Hank Ballard and The Midnighters.[5]

Compilation albums include The Copulatin' Blues (Stash Records: 1976,[6] re-released Mojo Records: 1996),[7] Them Dirty Blues (Jass Records: 1989)[8] and You Got to Give Me Some of It: 55 Risque Blues and R&B Classics 1928–1954 (Jasmine Records: 2015).[9]

Notable songs[edit]

Year Title Artist References
1924 "See See Rider" Ma Rainey [10][11]
1927 "Bow Wow Blues" The Allen Brothers [12][13]
1928 "It's Tight Like That" Tampa Red and Georgia Tom [14]
"The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas" James "Stump" Johnson [15]
"Empty Bed Blues" Bessie Smith [16]
1929 "I Had to Give Up Gym" The Hokum Boys [13]
"Rock That Thing" Lil Johnson [17]
"You'll Never Miss Your Jelly Until Your Jelly Roller Is Gone" Lil Johnson [18]
"Bumblebee" Memphis Minnie [13]
1930 "Please Warm My Weiner" Bo Carter [19][20]
"Good Grinding" Irene Scruggs [21]
"Must Get Mine in Front" Irene Scruggs [22]
"On the Wall" Louise Johnson [23][24]
1931 "Pin in Your Cushion" Bo Carter [19][20]
"Banana in Your Fruit Basket" Bo Carter [19][20]
"My Pencil Won't Write No More" Bo Carter [19][20]
"My Girl's Pussy" Harry Roy [25]
"Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl" Bessie Smith [26]
"You've Got to Save That Thing" Ora Alexander [8]
1932 "I Crave Your Lovin' Every Day" Ora Alexander [8]
1933 "Tom Cat and Pussy Blues" Jimmie Davis [27]
1935 "Shave 'Em Dry" Lucille Bogan [3]
"Let Me Roll Your Lemon" Bo Carter [19][20]
"Get 'Em from the Peanut Man (Hot Nuts)" Lil Johnson [18][28]
"Anybody Want to Buy My Cabbage?" Lil Johnson [18][28]
"Press My Button (Ring My Bell)" Lil Johnson [1]
1936 "Trucking My Blues Away" Blind Boy Fuller [29]
"Sam the Hot Dog Man" Lil Johnson [30]
"My Stove Is In Good Condition" Lil Johnson [21]
1937 "They're Red Hot" Robert Johnson [31][32][33]
"Meat Balls" Lil Johnson [21]
"If It Don't Fit (Don't Force It)" Lil Johnson [21]
1938 "Don't You Feel My Leg?" Blue Lu Barker [21]
1939 "I Want Some of Your Pie" Blind Boy Fuller [34]
1941 "Crosscut Saw" Tommy McClennan [35]
1942 "Let Me Play With Your Poodle" Tampa Red [36]
1944 "Salty Papa Blues" Dinah Washington [21]
1946 "Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got" Julia Lee [37]
1947 "(Opportunity Knocks But Once) Snatch and Grab It" Julia Lee [37]
"Mother Fuyer" Dirty Red [38]
1948 "Lolly Pop Mama" Wynonie Harris [39]
"King Size Papa" Julia Lee [37]
"I Want A Bowlegged Woman" Bull Moose Jackson [40]
1949 "Long John Blues" Dinah Washington [41]
"Mountain Oysters" Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis [42]
1950 "Butcher Pete" Roy Brown [42]
"My Man Stands Out" Julia Lee [37][42]
"I Like My Baby's Pudding" Wynonie Harris [43]
"Sittin On It All The Time" Wynonie Harris [43]
"I'm a Hi-Ballin' Daddy" Tiny Bradshaw [44]
"Silent George" Lucky Millinder [45]
1951 "Rocket 69" Todd Rhodes [42]
"Sixty Minute Man" Billy Ward and His Dominoes [43][46]
"Lemon Squeezing Daddy" The Sultans [42]
"The Walkin' Blues (Walk Right In, Walk Right Out)" Fluffy Hunter [42]
"It Ain't the Meat" The Swallows [43]
1952 "Keep On Churnin' (Till the Butter Comes)" Wynonie Harris [42]
"Big 10-Inch Record" Bull Moose Jackson [43]
"Nosey Joe" Bull Moose Jackson [47]
"Little Girl Sing Ding-A-Ling" Dave Bartholomew [48]
"Drill Daddy Drill" Dorothy Ellis [43]
1953 "Wasn't That Good" Wynonie Harris [42]
"Laundromat Blues" The "5" Royales [42]
1954 "Work with Me, Annie" The Midnighters [43]
"Shake, Rattle and Roll" Big Joe Turner [41]
"Big Long Slidin' Thing" Dinah Washington [43]
"Baby Let Me Bang Your Box" The Toppers [42]
"Mr Thrill" Mildred Jones [49]
"Rotten Cocksuckers' Ball" The Clovers [43]
"Toy Bell" The Bees [42]
"Sexy Ways" Hank Ballard [50]
1956 "Salty Dog" Blind Willie McTell [5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dirty Blues | Music Highlights". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  2. ^ "Press my button (ring my bell) - Lil Johnson lyrics". LyricsOfSong.com. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  3. ^ a b Thom Jurek. "Shave 'Em Dry: The Best of Lucille Bogan - Lucille Bogan | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  4. ^ Elijah Wald, The Dozens: A History of Rap's Mama, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 60. ISBN 0-19-989540-6
  5. ^ a b "Risque Blues, Vol. 1 - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. 1998-09-16. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  6. ^ "The Copulatin' Blues [Stash CD] - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Copulatin' Blues [Mojo] - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  8. ^ a b c "Them Dirty Blues - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  9. ^ "You Got to Give Me Some of It: 55 Risque Blues and R&B Classics 1928–1954 – Songs, Reviews, Credits – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  10. ^ "easy, a. and adv.", Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, 1989, c. easy rider (U.S. slang): (a) a sexually satisfying lover (see also quot. 1926); (b) a guitar.
    1912–13 W. C. HANDY Memphis Blues, Mr. Crump don't 'low no easy riders here. 1926 in R. de Toledano Frontiers Jazz (1947) iii. 37 'Rider', 'easy rider', which term means both lover and (not either, or) procurer... Fidelity to his woman is expected of the easy rider. 1927 Jrnl. Abnormal & Social Psychol. XXII. 16 'Easy rider'. This apt expression is used to describe a man whose movements in coitus are easy and satisfying. It is frequently met both in Negro folk songs and in formal songs. 'I wonder where my easy rider's gone', is a sort of by-word with Southern negroes. 1949 R. BLESH Shining Trumpets vi. 128 In rural Negro parlance...easy rider meant the guitar...carried suspended by its cord. In the double meaning of Negro imagery, the femininely formed guitar...typifies also a woman companion. In Negro 'city talk', the term easy rider has come to mean either a sexually satisfying woman or a male lover who lives off a woman's earnings. 1958 P. OLIVER in P. Gammond Decca Bk. Jazz i. 24 For the blues singer, the most valuable instrument was the guitar,...and, as his 'easy rider', could be slung across his back when he wished to travel.
  11. ^ Lighter, J.E. (1994), Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang A-G, vol. I, p. 375, ISBN 0-394-54427-7, n Black E. 1. a parasitical man usu. without a steady job who lives by gambling or sponging, (speicif.) a man who is supported by a woman, esp. a prostitute. [...] 2.a. a sexually satisfying lover. [...] b. a young woman who is sexually promiscious or easily seduced. Also easy ride. [...] c.a guitar [...] 4. a person who is not easily ruffled or provoked
  12. ^ Larry Birnbaum (2013). Before Elvis: The Prehistory of Rock 'n' Roll. p. 199. ISBN 9780810886384. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  13. ^ a b c Seaton, William (2015-07-01). "Poetry on the Loose: The Imagery of Hokum Blues Songs". Williamseaton.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  14. ^ Laurence Staig (1993-01-26). "Obituary: Thomas Dorsey - People - News". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  15. ^ Guido van, Rijn (1993). James "Stump" Johnson, 1929–1964 (CD booklet). James "Stump" Johnson. Document Records. p. 2.
  16. ^ Marybeth Hamilton, “Sexuality, Authenticity and the Making of the Blues Tradition.” Past & Present, no. 169, 2000, pp. 132–60. Retrieved 9 November 2022]
  17. ^ Nick Tosches (2009-06-16). Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll: The Birth Of Rock In The Wild Years Before Elvis. p. 6. ISBN 9780786748372. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  18. ^ a b c Eugene Chadbourne. "Lil Johnson | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  19. ^ a b c d e Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. pp. 99–100. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Harry's Blues Lyrics Online, Bo Carter Lyrics, page 1". Blueslyrics.tripod.com. Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  21. ^ a b c d e f "On Dirty Blues — Kathryn Allyn". Archived from the original on 2016-06-01. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  22. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "Irene Scruggs". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  23. ^ Robert Palmer (1981). Deep Blues. Penguin Books. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-14-006223-6.
  24. ^ Debra DeSalvo (2006). Language of the Blues : from Alcorub to Zuzu. Billboard Books. pp. 40–41. ISBN 0823083896.
  25. ^ Chris Han (2013-08-16). "8 Sexually Explicit Songs From the 1930s - CollegeHumor Post". Collegehumor.com. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  26. ^ David Stubbs. "David Stubbs: Are we missing the many hidden meanings that are slipping through the net? | Culture". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  27. ^ Peter Stanfield (2002). Horse Opera: The Strange History of the 1930s Singing Cowboy. p. 68. ISBN 9780252070495. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  28. ^ a b "Lil Johnson Discography". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  29. ^ "Them Dirty Blues Done Got Me". Bluebullfrog.net. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  30. ^ Andy Lynes (2015-10-15). Hot Dog!: The wonderful world of the wiener. ISBN 9781911042068. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  31. ^ "Dirty Blues". YouTube. 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  32. ^ "Sessions for Robert J. and Me And Mr. Johnson | 12bar Blues Guitar". 12bar.de. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  33. ^ "Rocketship Weird Retro Captain's Blog". Weird Retro. 2014-10-04. Archived from the original on 2016-08-12. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  34. ^ "Various - Them Dirty Blues (A Double Disc Copulation Compilation) (CD)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  35. ^ Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Crosscut Saw". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 443. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
  36. ^ Berlatsky, Noah (2014-06-28). "19 Best Double-Entendre Songs That Are Really About Sex". Alternet. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  37. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Julia Lee". AllMusic. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
  38. ^ "Dirty Red: Mother Fuyer (1947) | Elsewhere by Graham Reid". Elsewhere.co.nz. 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  39. ^ Jon Stratton (2016-02-17). When Music Migrates: Crossing British and European Racial Faultlines, 1945–2010. p. 53. ISBN 9781134762880. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  40. ^ "Dirty Blues - The Ultimate Collection". Darkmp3.ru. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  41. ^ a b "Dirty R&B — The Magazine". The-magazine.org. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  42. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Risque Rhythm (1950s)". Horntip.com. 2014-04-16. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i "10 Often-Censored Songs From the Early '50s". Rebeatmag.com. 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  44. ^ "VA - He Got Out His Big Ten Inch [3CD] (2005) - IsraBox". Israbox.be. 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  45. ^ Jacob Smith (7 February 2011). Spoken Word: Postwar American Phonograph Cultures. p. 108. ISBN 9780520948358. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  46. ^ Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. p. 156. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
  47. ^ "Tyler covered 'Big Ten-Inch' Record, but Bull Moose Jackson did it first". Goldminemag.com. 2015-01-22. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  48. ^ "Musikthemen - HitHistory Website". Hithistory.de. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  49. ^ "Living Blues". Living Blues Publications. 17 April 2004. Retrieved April 17, 2021 – via Google Books.
  50. ^ Nite, Norm N. Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock n' Roll (The Solid Gold Years). Thomas Y. Crowell (1974), pp. 428–29. ISBN 0-690-00583-0.
  51. ^ Gene Henry Anderson; Michael J. Budds (2007). The Original Hot Five Recordings of Louis Armstrong. pp. 48–50. ISBN 9781576471203. Retrieved 2016-05-07.