Every generation thinks the one that preceded them was square, and there's this general idea that the pre-1960s world was totally sexless and uptight. There's this vision of an world where everybody wore ties and nobody made double entendres. But that couldn't be further from the truth, and our ancestors lived in a raunchy, filthy world. Granted, that raunch wasn't as on the surface as it is today, but that's part of what made it even better.
There's a grand tradition of absolutely hair-curlingly obscene popular music that stretches back to the founding of our various nations (and, to be fair, deep into human history), but that form may have been perfected in the 1920s and 30s, as blues singers got truly saucy in late night juke joints. Just imagine a packed crowd in a smoky club, drunk as hell and sweaty, hooting and hollering along with a sexy chanteuse spouting language that would make a sailor plug his ears. Those were the days. There's a whole subcategory known as 'Dirty Blues,' and in it are songs with amazing titles like Big Ten Inch Record, Baby Let Me Bang Your Box and Get 'Em From The Peanut Man (Hot Nuts).
Lucille Bogan has a spot in the history books as one of the first blues singers to be professionally recorded; she's also one of the great Dirty Blues singers of all time. During the 30s most of her songs revolved around drinking or sex, with titles like Sloppy Drunk Blues and B.D. Woman's Blues (B.D. stands for Bull Dyke). Perhaps her most famous Dirty Blues recording is also one of her last; she recorded two versions of Shave 'Em Dry in 1935 - one clean and one dirty.
The clean one is representative of what would be pressed to wax at the time; full of double entendres it was a more palatable version of what was actually being sung in the juke joints. But the dirty version - which is mind-blowingly obscene from start to finish - actually lets us hear what was being truly sung in the clubs. It's a rare peek into a secret world that is becoming lost to the mists of time.
Bogan stopped recording in 1935 and moved to Los Angeles. She managed her son's jazz band, Bogan's Birmingham Busters, for a while. She died in 1948 at age 51.
The full lyrics for Shave 'em dry -
I got nipples on my titties Big as the end of my thumb I got somethin between my legs That'll make a dead-man come
Baby won't you shave 'em dry Want you to grind me baby Grind me until I cry
I fucked all night And the night before, baby And I feel like I wanna fuck some more
Oh, grind me honey Shave me dry
And when you hear me holla baby Want you to shave me dry
I got nipples on my titties Big as the end of my thumb
Oh, daddy shave me dry And I'll give you something baby Swear it'll make you dry I'm gonna turn back my mattress And let you on my springs I want you to grind me daddy Until the bells do ring
Oh baby Want you to shave me dry Oh great God daddy, if you can't shave em baby, won't you try?
Now if fuckin' was the thing That would take me to heaven, I'd be…