Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bawdy Songs: the double-entendre

As long as men have been singing songs they, being men, have made songs of their exploits, both real and imagined. The lyrics of today's rap and hip-hop that warrant the "Warning: Explicit Lyrics" label are nothing new. Once saved for the alehouse, cathouse and backroom, lewd lyrics now boom from the car next to you at the traffic light.

Bawdy songs were popular with the common folk of Europe, especially the British Isles as far back as the 16th century, and no doubt much earlier. Playwrights, poets and musicians such as Thomas D'Urfey (1653-1723), whose Wit and Mirth: or, Pills to Purge Melancholy, were using language that would make a whore blush. Even Scotland's favourite son, Robbie Burns (1759-1796), enjoyed off-color ballads such as his own composition titled "Nine Inches Will Please a Lady".

In the 1930s and 40s, with the recording industry well established, performers such as Benny Bell recorded somewhat cleaned-up novelty songs full of innuendo and double-entendres to entice snickers and nervous giggles from listeners.

WWII Europe, and American GIs on furlough were drinking in the brothels and singing lewd songs such as "Cemetary Sue" and a host of others.

The prosperous good-times after the war and into the 1960s, produced the great Baby Boom. And sure enough, folks weren't just doin' in the back seat of a '54 Buick on Lover's Lane, they were singing about it! Cliff Edwards (the voice of Walt Disney's Jiminy Cricket in the film Pinocchio, and singing "When You Wish upon a Star,") produced several risque novelty records. Then there was Oscar Brand and David Sear's Bawdy Hootenanny (which included such endearing tunes as "Charlotte the Harlot") and Sid "Hardrock" Gunther's Songs They Censored in the Hills.

Pour yourself a strong pint of ale and chase the young'uns from the room, this week the Old Blue Bus is headed for the seedy side of town.

Let's ease on in with a few double-entendres.

Benny Bell - Everybody Wants My Fanny.mp3

Cliff Edwards - I'm A Bear In A Lady's Boudoir.mp3

Piano Red - Right String, But the Wrong Yo-Yo.mp3


Blogger Chris said...

Today was one of those days, and these selections helped make it better. Thank you.

Although I don't comment much, I really enjoy your blog.

May 30, 2006 7:16 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks for the kind words, Chris.
Here's to a better day tomorrow.

May 30, 2006 8:02 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Greta stuff, Ed! The Piano Red reminds me of a song called "Right Key, Wrong Keyhole." I have it as done by Cliff Bruner & His Texas Wanderers, on a (red!) vinyl record called "Devil With the Devil," a compilation of Western Swing tunes from the 30's. There are several other bawdy tunes thereon. Don't know if it's available on CD.

May 31, 2006 10:36 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi Greg - I'm not familliar with Cliff Bruner, I'll have to look into it.

May 31, 2006 3:20 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

You can get some info from All Music Guide. And if you can possibly get ahold of "Devil With the Devil," you're in for a treat!

May 31, 2006 9:21 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks Greg, I'll keep an eye out for it.

June 01, 2006 7:32 AM  

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