Many forms of music
seem to go through similar stages in life
- first the streets
where it is born, up into established nightclub
s and media
, and ending up in the gilded halls
of the elite
, and tango
have all traveled this path, and once-humble bluesmen
such as Robert Johnson
or Muddy Waters
have achieved a legend
ary status. The rock'n'roll
of 50's America
is on the way, vying to catch up with some of the finer moments of the 60's
The thing to remember there is that these styles were all weaned in the street, in the homes and on the streetcorners of the poor. And because of that, they all had a very strong sexual element. The sensuality of the tango, the swing of jazz, it was meant to move people, send them into the arms of another, and craft the most forceful forms of love ever to exist on the planet.
At least, that's what some did. The blues? They just wanted to be raunchy - and, by gum, they got it.
The blues are built off of a simple foundation - one man, a pinebox guitar, and one wicked stomp to keep the beat. And that man will often sing on who he is and what he does. And what do most bluesmen do then? Live poor, live sad, booze up, and chase tail. And, back in the day, they sang about all of them equally. The dirty blues is all about the 'chasing tail' part of life (and, more importantly, what happens when you catch it).
You'll find collections of recordings, with names like Risque Blues : It Ain't The Meat, with some of the worst double-entendres you'll ever let pass between your ears. I Want A Bowlegged Woman by Bull Moose Jackson (the most popular singer of the dirty blues), Keep On Churnin' (Till The Butter Comes) by Wynonie Harris, and even Leiber and Stoller got in the act with their House-of-Raunch favorite Nosey Joe. I even remember a blues band from the 40's called The Poontangs. The music was often a sexed-up jump blues groove with a big beat, but not always - everyone sang the dirty blues, and in their own style. Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, anyone you can name - if they sang from the gut but had sex on the mind, they would belt out some bawdy tales.
And, like I said earlier, it shouldn't come as a surprise. Sex is everywhere in music, and it always has been. Ribald songs from the Middle Ages are still remembered; country music isn't exactly clean, as anyone who's been to a David Allen Coe concert knows; and I wouldn't be surprised if some seriously off-color threepenny operas ran back in the Old Country. But you don't hear of those often, of the sexual roots of ther forms of music, even though they're often just as entertaining. The dirty blues has risen to reissue status simply because it was the first to be recorded, and recorded often.
You can find compilations readily available from any reputable music dealer (just look for the words 'risqué blues' or 'dirty blues') or you can check out the cover tunes - Aerosmith did Bull Moose Jackson's Big Ten-Inch Record, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra did Nosey Joe.