Lucille Bogan: Shocking Your Great Grandparents

Born in 1897, Lucille Bogan first began recording in 1923, singing vaudeville songs. By the 1930s she had established herself as a blues singer and her oeuvre was slanted decidedly toward the raunchy. In songs like “Sloppy Drunk Blues”, “Tricks Ain’t Walkin’ No More”, and “B.D. Woman’s Blues” (the B.D. stands for bull dyke) she focused on themes like gambling, drinking, lesbianism, and prostitution; themes that featured prominently in the juke joints she had worked in early in her career.

One of her last recordings, “Shave ‘Em Dry” in March 1935, had two versions, one that kept to the tamer innuendo of most blues songs and an unexpurgated version, featured above, which does away with subtlety altogether. An interesting little piece of historical titillation, if only for a retort to the “music today is morally bankrupt” argument often favored by the familial old-guard.

11 Responses to “Lucille Bogan: Shocking Your Great Grandparents”

  1. Linda Says:

    That was SUPER! Its always great to have more evidence that sex and sexuality are not the drive of only the 20th and 21st centuries.

  2. Zoetica Says:

    This voice sent me on a whole Google adventure, and that’s the best kind of post there is. Brilliant!

  3. Zoetica Says:

    Also, here are the lyrics, for anyone having trouble making them out.

    I got nipples on my titties big as the end of my thumb,
    I got somethin’ ‘tween my legs ‘ll make a dead man come,
    Oooh daddy-baby, won’t you shave ’em dry, oooh!
    Won’t you grind me baby, grind me till I cry.

    Say I fucked all night and all the night before, baby,
    And I feel just like I want to fuck some more,
    Ooh, babe, goddamn daddy, grind me honey, shave ’em dry,
    And when you hear me yowl baby, want you to shave ’em dry.

    I got nipples on my titties big as the end of my thumb,
    And daddy you can have ’em any time you want and you can make ’em come.
    Oooh daddy, shave ’em dry,
    And I can give you some baby, swear it’ll make you cry.

    I will turn back my mattress and let you oil my springs,
    I want you to grind me daddy till the bells do ring,
    Ooh daddy, want you to shave ’em dry.,
    Oh pray God daddy, shave ’em baby, won’t you try?

    Now fuckin’s one thing that’ll take me to Hell,
    I’ll be fuckin’ in the studio just to fuck that to leather,
    Oooh, daddy, daddy shave ’em dry,
    I would fuck you baby, honey I would make you cry.

    Now your nuts hangs down like a damn bell-clapper,
    And your stick stands up like a steeple,
    Your goddamn asshole’s open like a church door,
    And the crabs walks in like the people,
    Oooh baby, won’t you shave ’em dry. …

    A big sow gets fat from eatin’ corn,
    And the pig gets fat from suckin’,
    Reason this whore got like, I am,
    Great God I got fat from fuckin’,
    Whee … tell ’em about me! Fuck it!

    My back is made of whalebone and my cock is made of brass,
    And my fuckin’s made for workin’ men, two dollars round to fit my ass,
    Oooh daddy, shave ’em dry.

  4. Nate Says:

    And it has been suggested that the second line was echoed in Tom Waits’ ‘Pasties and a G-String’ – “She’s so good, make a dead man come”.

  5. Dj Dead Billy Says:

    rolling stones ripped the line “make a dead man cum” in start me up.

  6. Nadya Says:

    I went on a Google journey, too. She is so fantastic. I love B.D. Woman Blues!

    Comin’ a time, B. D. women, they’n’t gon’ need no men.
    Comin’ a time, B. D. women, they’n’t gon’ to need no men.
    Cause the way they treat us is a lowdown and dirty sin.
    B. D. women, you sure cain’t understand.
    B. D. women, you sure cain’t understand.
    They got a head like a switch engine, and they walk just like a natch’l man.
    B. D. women, they all done learnt their plan.
    B. D. women, they all done learnt their plan.
    They can lay their jive just like a natch’l man.
    B. D. women, B. D. women, you know they sure is rough.
    B. D. women, B. D. women, you know they sure is rough.
    They all drink up plenty whiskey, and they sure will strut their stuff.
    B. D. women, you know they work and make their dough.
    B. D. women, you know they work and make their dough.
    And when they get ready to spend it, they know just where to go

  7. Alice Says:

    I’d like to challenge most of today’s artists to think up a song that’s as sexually explicit and fun as these.

  8. Jerem Morrow Says:

    My friend, music smith Paul Lee Kupfer (LOOKIT:, mentioned her several times. He’d dipped into the Smithsonian’s music collection, y’see, and knew more about the museeque o’ yes’tr’year than I do of my entire obsessive collection. Alas, he never got beyond the mention in his burning of other cds for me. This post is excellently timed, as I recently dug out said discs and began the journey anew. Thanks for continuing what Paul started!

  9. rickie Says:

    thankyouthankyouthankyou for posting this!!! amazing!!!

  10. Mer Says:


  11. Scottie D Says:

    It’s funny how you stumble onto things… I started out looking up the lyrics for the Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up”, just to clarify some mis-heard lyrics. So, while reading, I see the reference portion of the Google entry, which led me to another page. It says Keef and Mick were listening to Lucille Bogan’s “Shave Em Dry”, where the “dead man come” line came from. Oh really? They were singing stuff like that back in the 30s? Well, I have to hear that! I did, and it set me off looking for any and everything she recorded. Amazing. They don’t talk about her like they do, say, Bessie Smith, but I know I’m turning my friends on to her.