The Wildest Lyrics of the 1924 Classic, “Shave ‘Em Dry”

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Prepare for a deep dive into the bold and provocative world of music with a historical gem from 1924. We will explore the audacious narrative of “Shave ‘Em Dry,” a notorious example of the ‘dirty blues’ genre. This innuendo-laden blues piece was first recorded in Chicago in 1924 by the legendary Ma Rainey under the Paramount Records label. Released on September 6, 1924, the song features Ma Rainey’s powerful vocals accompanied by two mysterious guitarists, possibly including Miles Pruitt, whose identities remain veiled in mystery.

The lyrics, which are remarkably frank for the era, are a daring exposition of female sexual empowerment:

I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb
I got something between my legs’ll make a dead man cum
Oh, daddy, baby, won’t you shave ’em dry?
Now, draw it out!

The refrain continues with the same bold, unabashed energy, carving an image of passion and carnal indulgence:

Want you to grind me, baby, grind me until I cry
Say I fucked all night, and all the night before, baby
And I feel just like I wanna, fuck some more
Oh, great God daddy, grind me, honey, and shave me dry
And when you hear me holler, baby, want you to shave it dr

I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb
Daddy, you say that’s the kind of ’em you want, and you can make ’em cum
Oh, daddy, shave me dry
And I’ll give you something, baby, swear it’ll make you cry.

I’m gon’ turn back my mattress, and let you oil my springs
I want you to grind me, daddy, ’til the bell do ring
Oh, daddy, want you to shave ’em dry
Oh, great God daddy, if you can’t shave ’em baby, won’t you try?

Now if fucking was the thing that would take me to Heaven
I’d be fucking in the studio ’til the clock strike 11
Oh daddy, daddy, shave ’em dry
I would fuck you, baby, honey, I’d make you cry

Now your nuts hang down like a damn bell sapper
And your dick stands up like a steeple
Your god-damn ass-hole stands open like a church door
And the crabs walks in like people, haw, shit!
Shucks, ooh!
Baby, won’t you shave ’em dry? A big sow gets fat from eating corn
And a pig gets fat from sucking
Reason you see this whore, fat like I am
Great God, I got fat from fucking
Eh, shave ’em dry (with pleasure)My back is made of whalebone
And my cock is made of brass
And my fucking is made for working men’s two dollars
Great God ’round to kiss my ass
Whoa, woo, daddy, shave ’em dry

These evocative lyrics represent a stark departure from the conservative norms of the 1920s, pushing boundaries and challenging taboos with gusto and a certain degree of flair.

However, the most renowned rendition of “Shave ‘Em Dry” was performed by Lucille Bogan, whose reputation for crafting blush-inducing blues tunes is well-documented in music history. Her version of the song is remembered for its daring, risqué, and unapologetically explicit lyrical content that has since earned the piece a fascinating place in the annals of music history, standing the test of time.

The most known version of this song was sung by Lucille Bogan, She was known as someone that would create quite ‘a blush-worthy blues song, that stood the test of time.

The frank and unabashed lyrics of “Shave ‘Em Dry”, whether from the original Ma Rainey version or the Lucille Bogan rendition, represent a distinctive chapter in the evolution of music, marking a daring departure from conventional expression and paving the way for many of the boundary-pushing artists of today.

As a turn of phrase, “Shave ‘Em Dry” can be interpreted as referring to mean any aggressive action, alternatively (as here) as meaning sexual intercourse without any preliminary ‘love-making’.

What is the ‘dirty blues’ genre: The ‘dirty blues’ genre encompasses forms of blues music that delve into topics often considered taboo in society, including sexual connotations. Originating in the 1930s, this genre features suggestive lyrics about sex and other risqué subjects. Artists like Lucille Bogan, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith are notable figures associated with the ‘dirty blues’ style. The songs within this genre are known for their explicit and provocative content, making them distinct from traditional blues music. The ‘dirty blues’ genre has left a lasting impact on the music industry, with many of its themes and styles influencing later blues and jazz musicians.

Shaun Zietsman

Blogger and Content Creator from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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