By Stephen Calt

This interesting compendium explains the main strange, vague, and curious phrases and expressions from classic blues song. using either documentary proof and worthy interviews with a couple of now-deceased musicians from the Nineteen Twenties and '30s, blues pupil Stephen Calt unravels the nuances of greater than twelve hundred idioms and correct or position names came upon on oft-overlooked "race files" recorded among 1923 and 1949. From "aggravatin' papa" to "yas-yas-yas" and every little thing in among, this actually designated, racy, and compelling source decodes a ignored speech for common readers and researchers alike, supplying worthwhile information regarding black language and American slang.

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1) “I want everybody to dance ’em just like I tell you . . ” —Pine Top Smith, “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie,” 1928 Taken at face value, a specific dance or dance step, a sense indicated by the above patter and the 1931 Tampa Red recording, “They Call It Boogie­Woogie”: Down in Georgia on Decatur Street They got a new dance an’ it can’t be beat Well they call it boogie woogie . . Everybody doin’ that boogie woogie now. This dance, however, is of doubtful authenticity, and boogie woogie was more likely a veiled term for sexual intercourse with no vernacular application to dancing.

Will Batts, “Country Woman,” 1933 An act of sexual intercourse; apparently, an embellishment of poke, a term of like meaning (F&H, 1890). It appears as a vocal aside in the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Bedspring Poker” (1931): “Oh look at that old bed shaking. ’” beedle um bum Oh, my beedle um bum Come and see me if you ain’t had none be e d l e um bum 15 It’ll make a dumb man speak, make a lame man run You’ll miss something if you don’t get none —The Hokum Boys, “Beedle Um Bum,” 1928 A slang term for pussy current among female partygoers in Chicago during the 1920s (Tom Dorsey).

Blind Willie McTell, “Kind Mama,” 1931 A chicken; a standard English term construed by the OED as obsolete except in dialectal speech. ” —Sonny Scott, “No Good Biddie,” 1933 A slang term, often pejorative, for a female (cf. F&H, 1890; OED). big as a barrel I’m five feet standin’, six feet layin’ down I’m big as a barrel, but I’m round, round, round.  . means fool and is a prime insult” (Zora Neale Hurston’s American Mercury note on Harlem speech (1942) quoted in DARE). This term has a similarly pejorative connotation in the Pine Top Smith recording, “Big Boy, They Can’t Do That” (1929).

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