Happy Hump Day everyone! We’ve crossed the one year mark recently here at Blues Biscuits and over the year we’ve covered a lot of ground. Our Hump Day feature remains a popular mid week break and our recent PA Blues Fest Spotify Playlist drew some interest, so today we’re trying out a playlist related to Hump Day. It’s a nice sunny day here in the Northeast so it seems like a good time to take the top off and open it up with a smooth stick shift and solid chassis. No, you pervs, we’re talking about automobiles! Well, maybe we are. If you need it, worked on, lubed, loosened, tightened, tagged, tapped, or driven hard we’ve got just what you need.
A few of these songs were featured in one of our earliest Hump Day features – Johnny Winter, Eli Cook, Blind Boy Fuller, and Led Zeppelin. But now we’ve expanded the set to include Rosetta Howard, Amos Milburn, Chuck Berry, Joe Louis Walker, Junior Wells & James Cotton, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, and Super Chikan. Across the full history of the automobile, Blues singers have turned them into vehicles for sexual innuendo. Big back seats and secluded country roads helped write a lot of Blues tunes from heart break and infidelity to good times and afternoon strolls, it’s all in there. Today we celebrate the automobile and it’s contribution to Blues. Now, fill it up and drive it home!
Happy Hump Day! It’s a natural fact that Blues men love the ladies, but there were also several Blues women who also had an eye for the ladies. This week we’re going deep in the grooves of some old time lesbian ladies of the blues who dared to sing about their sexuality. Nicknames pertaining to homosexuals have never been altogether complimentary and the early 20th century was no exception. Manly lesbians were callously referred to as Bulldaggers. There were several Bulldaggers in early Blues, especially during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. In Harlem, self expression was encouraged and sexuality was less focused on hetero vs homo. It was geared toward feeling good with whomever you chose. Still, in less progressive parts of the country, women chose not to come forward about their sexuality but would hint about it in song and through flirtation on stage. Ma Rainey took this path and sang “Prove It On Me Blues.” The final verse of her song sums it up nicely:
“I went out last night with a crowd of my friends
It must have been women ’cause I don’t like no men.
Wear my clothes just like a fan
Talk to the gals just like any old man
‘Cause they say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me
Sure got to prove it on me”
Lucille Bogan is no stranger to our Hump Day readers. However when it came to singing about hot lesbian action, she used a pseudonym Bessie Jackson. You may think people have intolerant tendencies today but multiply that by a thousand percent and you’ll have a better perspective on intolerance of the early 20th Century. Lucille sang other songs as Bessie Jackson and singing under an assumed name has been done for several reasons by numerous blues performers over the years. However, if you chose to sing about “deviant sexual activity” it was definitely best to do so under a secret identity. In just two lines of her song “B.D. Woman’s Blues” Lucille makes a bold statement and also raises provocative questions about choice versus genetics.
“Comin’ a time, B.D. women they ain’t going to need no men
Cause they way treat us is a lowdown dirty sin”
She sings the Bulldaggers won’t need men because the men don’t treat us right. By using us, she is identifying herself as a Bulldagger. However, she insinuates that it is a choice. She can choose to go with women because the men in her life have been less than satisfying, apparently on several levels. It makes you wonder if she chose a woman with manly qualities to quell her own misgivings about lesbianism. Maybe she was able to rationalize the choice by thinking about her lover as a male, thereby lessening her own perceived deviance. [Please note, throughout history homosexuality has been publicly perceived as deviant behavior. This is not my opinion and I am not calling it deviant. I am describing the attributes of the time period and the public notions about homosexuality. I personally don’t care who you love as long as you find someone who loves you back and makes you happy.]
One of Ma Rainey’s disciples was Bessie Smith. Bessie’s sexuality was ambiguous at best. It seemed she would try anything (insert your try-sexual joke here). She openly bedded at least one female singer in her band and allegedly had a sexual relationship with a gay male pianist named Porter Grainger, as well as several relationships with straight men. She didn’t sing directly about gay or straight sex but her song “Foolish Man Blues” explores the changing roles of men and women.
“Men sure is deceitful and they’s gettin’ worser every day
Men sure is deceitful and they’s gettin’ worser every day
Act like a bunch of women, they’s just-a gab, gab, gabbin’ away
There’s two things got me puzzled, there’s two things I can’t stand
There’s two things got me puzzled, there’s two things I can’t stand
A mannish actin’ woman and a skippin’ twistin’ woman actin’ man”
Also this week, we have a male perspective on the lesbian relationships with Billy Mitchell’s “Two Old Maids.”
“Two old maids in a folding bed
One turned over to the other and said
I need some loving, that’s just what I need”
And in true hokum tradition he slips in a double entendre…
“Two old maids in a folding bed
One turned over to the other and said
Yes, yes, we have no bananas”
No bananas indeed.
Last but not least, and somewhat because this is a fairly serious subject that needs some levity, we have The Hokum Boys taking a tongue in groove, er, cheek look at a full range of behavior in “Somebody’s Been Using That Thing No. 2.”
That’s it for Hump Day folks. No matter who you’re humping, make it a good one and make sure somebody’s using that thing!
Ma RaineyProve It On Me Blues
Lucille Bogan/Bessie JacksonB.D. Woman’s Blues
Bessie SmithFoolish Man Blues
Billy MitchellTwo Old Maids
The Hokum BoysSomebody’s Been Using That Thing No. 2
Happy Hump Day everyone! With the sad news in the Blues world recently, it’s important we celebrate the good times and the true meaning of the Blues, which is of course, Seduction. Sweet, sweet seduction. For a hundred years the blues singers have been seducing mates by boasting of their sexual prowess, directly and through metaphor. They sing of their experiences, what they knew and what they could do, for you, to you, and with you. However, Willie Dixon came along and made this power congenital. That sounds dirty. Yes, Willie (which also sounds dirty) wrote about being born a sexual dynamo. He was so powerful the gypsy woman showed up to warn his mother. I’m not sure what she hoped to accomplish with that. Maybe it was her recommendation to keep him away from the Little Schoolgirls. We’ll probably never know. One thing we do know is that singing about this natural born condition was contagious.
Pretty much everyone has sung this song, even the ladies. Etta James famously adapted the song as “Hoochie Coochie Gal.” Just in case you’re not sure, she’s gonna tell you what it’s all about. Now, since we’re a Blues website we’ll stick to mostly Blues artists but “Hoochie Coochie Man” has been done by rockers like Steppenwolf and the Rolling Stones and jazz masters like Jimmy Smith, to guys like Lou Rawls and Steven Seagal.
Don’t worry, Steven Seagal’s version didn’t make our list, but you might hate one of them just as much! See? You have something to look forward to. You should definitely look forward to a live rendition from Buddy Guy. He messes with the crowd and they deserve it too. Some of them wouldn’t shut up during the quiet intro. We’ve got Muddy Waters doing a version from a 70s TV special, Junior Wells’ studio recording, the man himself Mr. Willie Dixon performing with Stephen Stills, a smoking 1970 live version from The Allman Brothers Band, and Walter Trout laying waste to everything holy with a blazing five-alarm guitar fire.
Since the song made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” we have to include at least one Rock & Roll version so we’re jumping way off the deep end where Lemmy is dressed in a leather and denim bathing suit and floating in a lounge chair with a Jack & Coke in one hand and a Marlboro in the other reminiscing about his legendary exploits. Yes folks, even Motorhead did a version of “Hoochie Coochie Man.” Don’t make assumptions! Give it a listen. It features the short lived early 80’s line-up with former Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson and is a pretty good Blues jam. Maybe it will seduce you into a life of Rock & Roll sin. Whatever you do, enjoy the rest of your week. Lemmy remind you, there’s still time to throw a Hump into it.
Welcome back for more Hump Day hokum fun and debauchery. Our theme this Hump Day was inspired by a reader who shall remain anonymous for fear her puritan reputation be sullied. “Why don’t you write about pussy cats?” she asked. It took me by surprise. I thought every installment entered that realm somehow, if you know what I mean. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Anyway, we may as well get right down in there and explore a few moments in blues history where the topic is pretty much called out by name in some of the slickest double entendre depravity ever achieved.
Big Bill Broonzy played on over 600 sides in the 1930’s and a handful were with the Famous Hokum Boys. Under his own name, he made “Pussy Cat Blues” aka “Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat” with a little help from the Hokum Boys’ friend Hannah May (aka Jane Lucas). The song begins with Hannah May singing the incredibly filthy yet perfectly innocent line “You can play with my pussy but please don’t dog it around / If you going to mistreat it, no pussy will be found.” Clearly she is a woman who cares about her pussy and wants to make sure it gets treated properly and with the respect it deserves.
Harry Roy & His Orchestra isn’t necessarily a blues band, but their classic ode to feline charms is definitely hokum of the first order. This song takes hiding in plain sight to the highest magnitude. And it’s such a happy, bouncy tune that you’ll be singing along before you realize what just happened to your morality.
There’s one pet I like to pet And every evening we get set I stroke it every chance I get It’s my girl’s pussy
Seldom plays and never purrs And I love the thoughts it stirs But I don’t mind because it’s hers My girl’s pussy
Often it goes out at night Returns at break of dawn No matter what the weather’s like It’s always nice and warm
It’s never dirty, always clean In giving thrills, never mean But it’s the best I’ve ever seen Is my girl’s pussy
Where can you go after that? This is from 1931. 1931. A song so clearly about his girl’s kitty cat that it tricks your dirty mind into doing cartwheels. Right? It is about a cat isn’t it? We better listen to it again.
We also have Johnny Winter playing the Rolling Stones ode to teen runaway seduction “Stray Cat Blues” and Katie Webster warning you that stepping out on her and returning to her back door will not make her happy. You gotta keep your woman happy so treat her pussy right, especially on Hump Day!
Hump Day is just two days away from May 1st. Temperatures in the Northeast are starting to feel like Spring and we’ll have many days in the 70s next week. Sooner than later it’s going to get hot and we’ll be looking for something to keep us cool.
If you’re feeling over-heated, ladies, you might want to call the “Ice Cream Man” and get a few licks, if you know what I mean. John Brim is your Ice Cream Man and he’d love to deliver anything you want. If you feel like spinning up some of your own ice cream, Roosevelt Sykes has some milk for your can. That sounds dirty. He may love your “Ice Cream Freezer” but he’s a wee bit particular when it comes to flavors. He leaves strawberry and vanilla to others and goes straight for the black walnut. You know you want him to taste your black walnut, don’t you? One thing you should know ladies, is that if these words are to be believed, it seems his ice cream melts a little too fast:
She say, ‘Now, daddy can you jus hold back and stick around? ‘ I’ll say, I b’lieve you spoke jus a little too late pretty mama I gotta let that flavor come runnin’ down
He must really love to lick the black walnut though because the woman invites him back:
She said, ‘Now, you done uses my freezer ‘Look like you gettin’ ready to leave’ She said, ‘But you’re still welcome to my can When you have more cream to freeze’
Since you can’t eat ice cream all the time, you need to keep it cold. As luck would have it, Whistling Bob Howe & Frankie Griggs have just what you need to put in your box. Hey! we’re talking about ice here, and they have the “Coldest Stuff In Town.” They will fill your icebox anytime you need it. And with all this ice cream you’ve been making, you will be a regular stop, especially on Hump Day! Thanks for tuning in and stay frosty my little Biscuiteers.
John Brim Ice Cream Man
Roosevelt Sykes Ice Cream Freezer
Whistlin’ Bob Howe & Frankie Griggs The Coldest Stuff in Town
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!
This week’s Hump Day installment is a throwback to last Wednesday which was April Fools Day. I was sick as a dog last week and in the midst of fighting a fever so I didn’t get to post it.
Anyway, we’re exploring all the fools in the land of Blues. Since it was Muddy Waters’ 102nd birthday recently and his son Mud Morganfield, along with Kim Wilson, made a great tribute record called For Pops, we have their version of “Still A Fool.” There may be two trains runnin’ but this fool doesn’t know which way to go. Is he cheating? Is she steppin’ out? We may never know, but I’m betting on both. Maybe they’re the two trains running in opposite directions from each other.
Next we have Son Seals. Every guy in the bar knows his woman is anything but faithful. Poor Son has been fooled and fooled again.eventually she’ll shoot him in the face. Too soon? Another Chicago blues man is being played the fool in Linsey Alexander’s “Too Old To Be A New Fool.” Chicago must be full of fickle women. All these fools are in Chicago getting the runaround from woman after woman. Even our last entry, from Mr. Buddy Guy, is a Chicago Blues legend but maybe he’s wising up and doing some fooling of his own. Who’s been foolin’ you baby?
So, as April fools us here in the Northeast into thinking it’s still winter, hopefully some April Fools Blues will warm you up, wherever you are. Don’t get fooled while you’re foolin’ around on Hump Day.
Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson Still A Fool
Son Seals I Think You’re Fooling Me
Hump Day this week is brought to you by Muddy & The Wolf. Inspiration came in the form of Joe Bonamassa’s new live album Muddy Wolf At Red Rocks. Joe Bonamassa seems to inspire extreme feelings on both ends of the spectrum in the world of Blues fans. But love him or hate him, we should be happy he’s introducing his fans to the legends of Blues. If he steers just one kid away from Justin Bieber we can call it a win! It’s always a good thing when people acknowledge their influences and shine a light on their artistry.
This week, like Mr. Bonamassa, we celebrate the artistry, wit, humor, and machismo of the late greats Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Since we’re shining a light, I tried to steer off the main drag onto the seedy side streets of their catalogs. Of the two, I’d say Muddy was the more prolific womanizer in both song and real life. He loved the ladies and the ladies loved their Hoochie Coochie Man right back, especially when he got his Mojo Workin’. For Hump Day, Muddy is singing a warning to those Big Legged Women out there. Don’t be showing off the goods if you don’t want the attention ladies. It’s a public service announcement. Yeah, that sounds about right. In fact, Muddy cares so much about your well being he has become your doctor. He’s a got a powerful prescription and he’d like you to take it as often as possible. He’ll fill it for you any time you call. That sounds dirty.
Now, Howlin’ Wolf, on the other hand, was not as much of a ladies man as Muddy. He may have been your Back Door Man, but he was on your Evil ways of doggin’ him around. Where Muddy professed his powers of seduction, Howlin’ Wolf was keenly aware of the power of women. He took a skeptical view of their feminine wiles and their manipulations. For Hump Day, Wolf is singing about his Country Sugar Mama. She’s got sweet, sweet sugar and he needs it three times a day, but he wants to know where she got sugar that good. Her sugar is the best in town and everybody knows it, and everybody wants it. Wolf knows it’s too good for her to be true to him or anyone else and he’s got questions. Howlin’ Wolf was a thinker and often this part of his personality came into his songs. He’s definitely been thinking about where you were last night, spread out all over town doing the All Night Boogie. He knows exactly what you’ve been up to. You’ve been celebrating Hump Day all week long!
Today’s selections for Hump Day were inspired by an impromptu trip to the veterinarian this morning with one of our foster dogs. I was listening to the terrific new disc from Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King, called Fat Man’s Shine Parlor, and Bnois is a witty lyricist so I was thinking about blues lyrics, and howling dogs and it hit me! Dog references!
Men have been referred to as dogs since before the Blues began and it didn’t take long for horny guys to turn up in songs in the form of their other best friend, if you know what I mean. While there were previous examples, Big Mama Thornton‘s “Hound Dog” from 1952 was arguably the first widely popular song to focus on the dog reference. It was right there in front of you too, sniffing your back side and making you nervous in a mid-twentieth century repression kind of way. When Big Mama sang these lines you knew exactly what that dog was hungry for:
“You ain’t nothing but a hound dog Been snoopin’ ’round my door You can wag your tail But I ain’t gonna feed you no more”
Ten years later, Rufus Thomas introduced us to something called “Walkin’ The Dog.” Rufus wasn’t merely talking a stroll with his favorite pooch. No, no, this was some kind of dance that with a sly wink and nod became something dirty. I’m pretty sure Ol’ Rufus would have put Baby in a corner and had the time of his life. If you don’t know how to do it, he will definitely show you how to walk the dog.
Since Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King were unwittingly involved in deciding today’s Hump Day topic, I had to see what they had in their catalog that fit. It turns out Bnois King may have been walking his dog a little too much. His woman is giving him the boot for snoopin’ around too many of the wrong doors and all over town too. She’s gonna set him free to roam and now he’s got the “K9 Blues.”
Big Bill Morganfield would love you to take his dog for one more walk before you go baby. You know his dog loves you best. His dog is always happy to see you and loves the way you stroke it (I may have added that part). Johnny Winter is no stranger to Hump Day, but this time he says there will be “No More Doggin'” around with you. He’s gonna let you out baby, and don’t come back. Go hump the neighbor’s leg for a while.
Finally, this Hump Day, we have the band who introduced me to “Walkin’ The Dog” – Aerosmith. Yeah, it’s not exactly Blues, but the band, along with a host of others, got me interested in Blues all while singing along in a teenage hormone frenzy and proclaiming that “I’ll show you how to walk the dog!” I didn’t know a damned thing but it sure felt good to sing it. This is a recent version which shows the band still has the swagger and testosterone that fueled the version on their 1973 debut. Rockers doing blues isn’t always a bad thing.
Now, get those leashes and collars on and walk that dog! Happy Hump Day!
February 21, 2015 marked the second anniversary of the passing of Magic Slim. Slim was a true living legend and one of the last purveyors of the raucous variety of Chicago Blues. The first time I saw Magic Slim was on March 13, 1994 at the New Regal Theater in Chicago where he was opening for Pearl Jam. Yes, that Pearl Jam. Before you cry heresy, remember that Pearl Jam were arguably the biggest band in the world at the time and could have picked anyone to open the show. They chose a man who represented the musical history of the city and introduced him to their fans. Magic Slim’s set was filled with powerhouse blues and boogie and he surely rocked the house.
So with all this in mind, I have found my listening choices drifting back to Magic Slim over the last two weeks. Therefore, I am dedicating this week’s Hump Day installment to Magic Slim and his band The Teardrops which always had talented musicians playing the leanest, meanest, groovingest, movingest blues in town. Now, Slim didn’t really get down and outright dirty, but that’s half the fun sometimes right? He sang a few tunes where the metaphors are solid as a rock and ready to get hammered. Slim put his indelible stamp on Muddy Waters’ “Can’t Get No Grindin'” and with lines like “One had a bush and one had a peck” you know they aren’t really talking about a mill.
Now ladies, if your mill is broken down and you can’t get no grindin’, maybe you should meet up with Magic Slim. He may not be the man you want, but he is damned sure “The Man You Need.” When it comes to getting your lovin’ Slim says all you need to do is “Wake Me Up Early.” He’ll have a breakfast sausage all ready for you, if you know what I mean. The last song we have for this week’s Hump Day is Slim’s cover of Bobby Rush’s “Chicken Heads.” What in the name of Sam Hill is a chicken head? Apparently it’s a woman. A woman whose head is bobbing up and down like a chicken head. You can guess what she’s bobbing up and down on. Maybe it’s a creamscicle.
I hope you enjoy our Hump Day tribute to Magic Slim & The Teardrops. If Slim and his band can’t get you grinding and binding you may be in a coma. Tell me if you feel this…