What is Dirty Blues?


Dirty blues encompasses forms of  blues music that deal with socially taboo subjects, 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 WWII although it had a revival in the 1960s.

Many songs used innuendo, slang terms, or double entendres, such as Lil Johnson’s  “Press My Button (Ring My Bell)” (“Come on baby, let’s have some fun / Just put your hot dog in my bun”) which we perform.   However, some were very explicit. The most extreme examples were rarely recorded at all. Lucille Bogan’s song, “Shave ‘Em Dry” (1935), being a rare example. It was noted by one music historian as “by far the most explicit blues song preserved at a commercial pre-war recording session”

We don’t sing that one! But we might!

Here’s a really good list with links from Wikipedia if you are interested in learning a lot more.


Year Title Artist References
1924 See See Rider Ma Rainey [6][7]
1927 “Bow Wow Blues” The Allen Brothers [8][9]
1928 “It’s Tight Like That” Tampa Red and Georgia Tom [10]
1928 The Duck’s Yas-Yas-Yas James “Stump” Johnson [11]
1929 “I Had to Give Up Gym” The Hokum Boys [9]
1929 “Rock That Thing” Lil Johnson [12]
1929 “You’ll Never Miss Your Jelly Until Your Jelly Roller Is Gone” Lil Johnson [13]
1929 “Bumblebee” Memphis Minnie [9]
1930 “Please Warm My Weiner” Bo Carter [14][15]
1930 “Good Grinding” Irene Scruggs [16]
1930 “Must Get Mine in Front” Irene Scruggs [17]
1931 “Pin in Your Cushion” Bo Carter [14][15]
1931 “Banana in Your Fruit Basket” Bo Carter [14][15]
1931 “My Pencil Won’t Write No More” Bo Carter [14][15]
1931 “My Girl’s Pussy” Harry Roy [18]
1931 “Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl” Bessie Smith [19]
1933 “Tom Cat and Pussy Blues Jimmie Davis [20]
1935 “Shave ‘Em Dry” Lucille Bogan [3]
1935 “Let Me Roll Your Lemon” Bo Carter [14][15]
1935 “Get ‘Em from the Peanut Man (Hot Nuts)” Lil Johnson [13][21]
1935 “Anybody Want to Buy My Cabbage?” Lil Johnson [13][21]
1935 “Press My Button (Ring My Bell)” Lil Johnson [1]
1936 “Trucking My Blues Away” Blind Boy Fuller [22]
1936 “Sam the Hot Dog Man” Lil Johnson [23]
1936 “My Stove Is In Good Condition” Lil Johnson [24]
1937 They’re Red Hot Robert Johnson [25][26][27]
1937 “Meat Balls” Lil Johnson [16]
1937 “If It Don’t Fit (Don’t Force It)” Lil Johnson [16]
1938 “Don’t You Feel My Leg?” Blue Lu Barker [16]
1939 “I Want Some of Your Pie” Blind Boy Fuller [28]
1941 Crosscut Saw Tommy McClennan [29]
1942 Let Me Play With Your Poodle Tampa Red [30]
1944 “Salty Papa Blues” Dinah Washington [16]
1946 “Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got” Julia Lee [31]
1947 (Opportunity Knocks But Once) Snatch and Grab It Julia Lee [31]
1947 Mother Fuyer Dirty Red [32]
1948 “Lolly Pop Mama” Wynonie Harris [33]
1948 King Size Papa Julia Lee [31]
1948 “I Want A Bowlegged Woman” Bull Moose Jackson [34]
1949 “Long John Blues” Dinah Washington [35]
1949 “Mountain Oysters” Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis [36]
1950 “Butcher Pete” Roy Brown [36]
1950 “My Man Stands Out” Julia Lee [31][36]
1950 “I Like My Baby’s Pudding Wynonie Harris [37]
1950 “Sittin On It All The Time” Wynonie Harris [37]
1950 “I’m a Hi-Ballin’ Daddy” Tiny Bradshaw [38]
1950 “Silent George Lucky Millinder [39]
1951 “Rocket 69” Todd Rhodes [36]
1951 Sixty Minute Man Billy Ward and His Dominoes [37][40]
1951 “Lemon Squeezing Daddy” The Sultans [36]
1951 “The Walkin’ Blues (Walk Right In, Walk Right Out)” Fluffy Hunter [36]
1951 “It Ain’t the Meat” The Swallows [37]
1952 “Keep on Churnin'” Wynonie Harris [36]
1952 “Big 10-Inch Record” Bull Moose Jackson [37]
1952 “Nosey Joe” Bull Moose Jackson [41]
1952 Little Girl Sing Ding-A-Ling Dave Bartholomew [42]
1952 “Drill Daddy Drill” Dorothy Ellis [37]
1953 “Wasn’t That Good” Wynonie Harris [36]
1953 “Laundromat Blues” The “5” Royales [36]
1954 Work with Me, Annie The Midnighters [37]
1954 Shake, Rattle and Roll Big Joe Turner [35]
1954 “Big Long Slidin’ Thing” Dinah Washington [37]
1954 “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box” The Toppers [36]
1954 “Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball The Clovers [37]
1954 “Toy Bell” The Bees [36]
1954 “Sexy Ways” Hank Ballard [43]
1956 “Salty Dog” Blind Willie McTell [5]



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