By Stephen Calt
This attention-grabbing compendium explains the main strange, vague, and curious phrases and expressions from classic blues song. using either documentary facts and worthwhile interviews with a couple of now-deceased musicians from the Nineteen Twenties and '30s, blues student Stephen Calt unravels the nuances of greater than twelve hundred idioms and correct or position names stumbled on on oft-overlooked "race documents" recorded among 1923 and 1949. From "aggravatin' papa" to "yas-yas-yas" and every thing in among, this really special, racy, and compelling source decodes a missed speech for common readers and researchers alike, providing valuable information regarding black language and American slang.
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Additional info for Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary
Bone Some men like lunch meat, and some they likes old tongue Some men don’t care for biscuits, they like the doggone big fat bone. —Bo Carter, “Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me,” 1936 Erect penis. As a term for erection, bone dates to the mid-19th century, when it was associated with Cockney slang (Partridge). See hambone. bone, to the Aw they taken my woman, hurt me to the bone That’s the reason why you hear me cry an’ moan. —Barbecue Bob, “Atlanta Moan,” 1930 Thoroughly; to the core; a standard English figure of speech (OED).
Boogie (n. 1) Papa got a watch, brother got a ring Sister got her arms full, of alley-boogyin’ that thing She’s wild about her boogie, only thing she choose Now she’s got to do the boogie, to buy her alley baby some shoes. —Lucille Bogan, “Alley Boogie,” 1930 Sexual intercourse. This term apparently fostered or was derived from boogie house, a black idiom for brothel at the turn of the 20th century (cf. Handy, 1941). Ultimately, boogie may be a black modification of an obsolete Scottish colloquialism for sex, to dance the reel o’bogie, which dates to the 18th century (Partridge).
Blind Lemon Jefferson, “Change My Luck Blues,” 1928 An old scolding expression, meaning “be off, get out of here,” that is still heard in the South (WD). 14 bat t l e -ham bear down Be easy mama ’cause trouble’s bearin’ down Be easy mama my trouble’s bearin’ down. —William Harris, “I’m Leavin’ Town,” 1927 To pull to the ground; overwhelm. Although construed as standard English by the OED, this expression appears to have been passé and associated with blacks in American speech. ’” In blues usage it is similarly coupled with trouble: Trouble done bore me down But here I sit a-moanin’, Trouble done bore me down.