Dirty Blues
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Dirty Blues

Dirty blues encompasses forms of blues music that deal with socially taboo subjects and obscenity, including sexual acts and/or references to drug use of some kind. Due to the sometimes graphic subject matter, such music was often banned from radio and only available on a jukebox. The style was most popular in the years before World War II, although it had a revival in the 1960s.[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. Lucille Bogan's obscene song, "Shave 'Em Dry" (1935), being a rare example.[3] It was noted by one music historian 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] and Them Dirty Blues (Jass Records: 1989).[8]

Notable songs

Year Title Artist References
1924 "See See Rider" Ma Rainey [9][10]
1927 "Bow Wow Blues" The Allen Brothers [11][12]
1928 "It's Tight Like That" Tampa Red and Georgia Tom [13]
1928 "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas" James "Stump" Johnson [14]
1929 "I Had to Give Up Gym" The Hokum Boys [12]
1929 "Rock That Thing" Lil Johnson [15]
1929 "You'll Never Miss Your Jelly Until Your Jelly Roller Is Gone" Lil Johnson [16]
1929 "Bumblebee" Memphis Minnie [12]
1930 "Please Warm My Weiner" Bo Carter [17][18]
1930 "Good Grinding" Irene Scruggs [19]
1930 "Must Get Mine in Front" Irene Scruggs [20]
1931 "Pin in Your Cushion" Bo Carter [17][18]
1931 "Banana in Your Fruit Basket" Bo Carter [17][18]
1931 "My Pencil Won't Write No More" Bo Carter [17][18]
1931 "My Girl's Pussy" Harry Roy [21]
1931 "Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl" Bessie Smith [22]
1933 "Tom Cat and Pussy Blues" Jimmie Davis [23]
1935 "Shave 'Em Dry" Lucille Bogan [3]
1935 "Let Me Roll Your Lemon" Bo Carter [17][18]
1935 "Get 'Em from the Peanut Man (Hot Nuts)" Lil Johnson [16][24]
1935 "Anybody Want to Buy My Cabbage?" Lil Johnson [16][24]
1935 "Press My Button (Ring My Bell)" Lil Johnson [1]
1936 "Trucking My Blues Away" Blind Boy Fuller [25]
1936 "Sam the Hot Dog Man" Lil Johnson [26]
1936 "My Stove Is In Good Condition" Lil Johnson [19]
1937 "They're Red Hot" Robert Johnson [27][28][29]
1937 "Meat Balls" Lil Johnson [19]
1937 "If It Don't Fit (Don't Force It)" Lil Johnson [19]
1938 "Don't You Feel My Leg?" Blue Lu Barker [19]
1939 "I Want Some of Your Pie" Blind Boy Fuller [30]
1941 "Crosscut Saw" Tommy McClennan [31]
1942 "Let Me Play With Your Poodle" Tampa Red [32]
1944 "Salty Papa Blues" Dinah Washington [19]
1946 "Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got" Julia Lee [33]
1947 "(Opportunity Knocks But Once) Snatch and Grab It" Julia Lee [33]
1947 "Mother Fuyer" Dirty Red [34]
1948 "Lolly Pop Mama" Wynonie Harris [35]
1948 "King Size Papa" Julia Lee [33]
1948 "I Want A Bowlegged Woman" Bull Moose Jackson [36]
1949 "Long John Blues" Dinah Washington [37]
1949 "Mountain Oysters" Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis [38]
1950 "Butcher Pete" Roy Brown [38]
1950 "My Man Stands Out" Julia Lee [33][38]
1950 "I Like My Baby's Pudding" Wynonie Harris [39]
1950 "Sittin On It All The Time" Wynonie Harris [39]
1950 "I'm a Hi-Ballin' Daddy" Tiny Bradshaw [40]
1950 "Silent George" Lucky Millinder [41]
1951 "Rocket 69" Todd Rhodes [38]
1951 "Sixty Minute Man" Billy Ward and His Dominoes [39][42]
1951 "Lemon Squeezing Daddy" The Sultans [38]
1951 "The Walkin' Blues (Walk Right In, Walk Right Out)" Fluffy Hunter [38]
1951 "It Ain't the Meat" The Swallows [39]
1952 "Keep on Churnin'" Wynonie Harris [38]
1952 "Big 10-Inch Record" Bull Moose Jackson [39]
1952 "Nosey Joe" Bull Moose Jackson [43]
1952 "Little Girl Sing Ding-A-Ling" Dave Bartholomew [44]
1952 "Drill Daddy Drill" Dorothy Ellis [39]
1953 "Wasn't That Good" Wynonie Harris [38]
1953 "Laundromat Blues" The "5" Royales [38]
1954 "Work with Me, Annie" The Midnighters [39]
1954 "Shake, Rattle and Roll" Big Joe Turner [37]
1954 "Big Long Slidin' Thing" Dinah Washington [39]
1954 "Baby Let Me Bang Your Box" The Toppers [38]
1954 "Rotten Cocksuckers' Ball" The Clovers [39]
1954 "Toy Bell" The Bees [38]
1954 "Sexy Ways" Hank Ballard [45]
1956 "Salty Dog" Blind Willie McTell [5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dirty Blues | Music Highlights". AllMusic. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Press my button (ring my bell) - Lil Johnson lyrics". LyricsOfSong.com. Retrieved .
  3. ^ a b Thom Jurek. "Shave 'Em Dry: The Best of Lucille Bogan - Lucille Bogan | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved .
  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 .
  6. ^ "The Copulatin' Blues [Stash CD] - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ "Copulatin' Blues [Mojo] - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ "Them Dirty Blues - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ Lighter, J.E. (1994), Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang A-G, 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
  11. ^ Larry Birnbaum. "Before Elvis: The Prehistory of Rock 'n' Roll". Books.google.co.uk. p. 199. Retrieved .
  12. ^ a b c Seaton, William (2015-07-01). "Poetry on the Loose: The Imagery of Hokum Blues Songs". Williamseaton.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved .
  13. ^ Laurence Staig (1993-01-26). "Obituary: Thomas Dorsey - People - News". The Independent. Retrieved .
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  15. ^ Nick Tosches (2009-06-16). "Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll: The Birth Of Rock In The Wild Years Before Elvis". Books.google.co.uk. p. 6. Retrieved .
  16. ^ a b c Eugene Chadbourne. "Lil Johnson | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved .
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Harry's Blues Lyrics Online, Bo Carter Lyrics, page 1". Blueslyrics.tripod.com. Retrieved .
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-01. Retrieved .CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "Irene Scruggs". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010.
  21. ^ Chris Han (2013-08-16). "8 Sexually Explicit Songs From the 1930's - CollegeHumor Post". Collegehumor.com. Retrieved .
  22. ^ David Stubbs. "David Stubbs: Are we missing the many hidden meanings that are slipping through the net? | Culture". The Guardian. Retrieved .
  23. ^ Peter Stanfield. "Horse Opera: The Strange History of the 1930s Singing Cowboy". Books.google.co.uk. p. 68. Retrieved .
  24. ^ a b "Lil Johnson Discography". Discogs.com. Retrieved .
  25. ^ "Them Dirty Blues Done Got Me". Bluebullfrog.net. Retrieved .
  26. ^ Andy Lynes (2015-10-15). "Hot Dog!: The wonderful world of the wiener". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved .
  27. ^ "Dirty Blues". YouTube. 2014-06-05. Retrieved .
  28. ^ "Sessions for Robert J. and Me And Mr. Johnson | 12bar Blues Guitar". 12bar.de. Retrieved .
  29. ^ "Rocketship Weird Retro Captain's Blog". Weird Retro. 2014-10-04. Retrieved .
  30. ^ "Various - Them Dirty Blues (A Double Disc Copulation Compilation) (CD)". Discogs.com. Retrieved .
  31. ^ Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Crosscut Saw". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 443. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
  32. ^ Berlatsky, Noah (2014-06-28). "19 Best Double-Entendre Songs That Are Really About Sex". Alternet. Retrieved .
  33. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Julia Lee". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010.
  34. ^ "Dirty Red: Mother Fuyer (1947) | Elsewhere by Graham Reid". Elsewhere.co.nz. 2012-11-29. Retrieved .
  35. ^ Jon Stratton (2016-02-17). "When Music Migrates: Crossing British and European Racial Faultlines, 1945-2010". Books.google.co.uk. p. 53. Retrieved .
  36. ^ "Dirty Blues - The Ultimate Collection". Darkmp3.ru. Retrieved .
  37. ^ a b "Dirty R&B -- The Magazine". The-magazine.org. Retrieved .
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Risque Rhythm (1950s)". Horntip.com. 2014-04-16. Retrieved .
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i "10 Often-Censored Songs From the Early '50s". Rebeatmag.com. 2014-09-04. Retrieved .
  40. ^ "VA - He Got Out His Big Ten Inch [3CD] (2005) - IsraBox". Israbox.be. 2011-02-17. Retrieved .
  41. ^ Jacob Smith. "Spoken Word: Postwar American Phonograph Cultures". Books.google.co.uk. p. 108. Retrieved .
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ "Tyler covered 'Big Ten-Inch' Record, but Bull Moose Jackson did it first". Goldminemag.com. 2015-01-22. Retrieved .
  44. ^ "Musikthemen - HitHistory Website". Hithistory.de. Retrieved .
  45. ^ 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.
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