Daily Archives: April 15, 2015

Hump Day Is Tax Day!

It’s Hump Day Biscuiteers but this week it happens to fall on Tax Day. We’re dedicating this week’s edition to tax time blues.

Naturally we have some Hump Day related good humor in two of these songs. The Dixon Brothers speculated what might happen if the government put “Sales Tax On The Women” and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson decries paying luxury tax on his dates with ladies. 

Here are a pair of stanzas from “Sales Tax On The Women”

“That’s the way it goes, Uncle Sam knows
He’s just torturin’ me and my pals
We would die with the blues without any shoes
If you put the sales tax on the gals

Well, I don’t mean any harm when I step out at night
Happy times with the ladies I’ve spent
Sales taxes on the kisses just wouldn’t be right
In my pockets I would never have a cent”

Vinson took the approach of comparing women to meat, which were apparently two luxuries he could not do without:

“No I don’t wanna bite, that meat’s too hot for me
No I don’t wanna bite, that meat’s too hot for me
I used to get it for two dollars, way back in nineteen fifty three

Well I went to see my baby, she said daddy just relax
I went to see my baby, she said daddy just relax
But that night when I was leavin’, I paid ten dollars luxury tax”

Something tells me his baby got the ten dollars and not his Uncle Sam.

We haven’t always paid income tax to the Federal Government. In 1913, Congress added federal income taxes to the constitution by passing the 16th Amendment. In 1862, Congress created the first income tax in order to pay for the Civil War. That law was repealed in 1872. In 1894, Congress created a flat income tax which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It was gone within a year. In the early days of the Blues, sales tax was also a new concept. The Great Depression spurred state governments to add sales taxes to bring in revenue. Two dozen states started collecting sales tax in the 1930s. “Sales Tax” by Mississippi Sheiks explores this new concept. At the beginning of the song, there’s a little dialogue which sets up the song. It may not be that clear on the recording so here it is:

‘Hey Walter, we need some cigarettes
Lets go ahead and get a pack’
‘Okay’

Storekeeper Spoken:
‘Hello boys, what can I do for you?’

‘I’ll have a pack of cigarettes’

‘Alright, here you are’

‘Be 3 cents more, though’

(both spoken)
‘What’s that for?’

‘Sales tax, haven’t you ever heard of sales tax?’

‘I sho’ haven’t’
‘What’s gonna happen next, man?’
‘You know they gotta law here they call ‘sale tax’.

‘Sale tax, what is that for?’

‘that’s 3 cent tax on ev’ra thing that’s sold
They say that’s the government rule’

‘The governments rule?’
‘Well, there’s a-lotsa things sold that the government
Knows anything about.’

‘An I’ll just sing a little song about these sales tax.’

We’d be remiss if we did a Tax Day feature without Robert Cray’s “1040 Blues” and we have a rare live version of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble doing The Beatles’ “Taxman.” And when you’re done paying all those taxes, you just might end up like Albert Collins: “Broke.” Let’s all just hope they don’t put sales tax on the women!

JB Lenoir Tax Paying Blues

Mississippi Sheiks Sales Tax

Dixon Brothers Sales Tax On The Women

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson Luxury Tax Blues

Robert Cray 1040 Blues

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble Taxman

Albert Collins Broke