Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary by Stephen Calt

By Stephen Calt

This interesting compendium explains the main strange, vague, and curious phrases and expressions from classic blues song. using either documentary proof and important interviews with a couple of now-deceased musicians from the Twenties and '30s, blues pupil Stephen Calt unravels the nuances of greater than twelve hundred idioms and correct or position names came upon on oft-overlooked "race files" recorded among 1923 and 1949. From "aggravatin' papa" to "yas-yas-yas" and every little thing in among, this actually specific, racy, and compelling source decodes a overlooked speech for basic readers and researchers alike, supplying helpful information regarding black language and American slang.

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Tampa Red’s Hokum Jug Band, “Saturday Night Scrontch,” 1929 Evidently, a short-lived slang term (perhaps confined to Chicago) indicating horniness or randiness. ” Woogie surfaced as part of vocal patter on Blind Blake’s “Hastings Street” (recorded a month after “Saturday Night Scrontch”): “Goin’ out on Hastings Street where they doin’ the boogie. ” See woogie. booked I got three lanes to truck on, boy please don’t block my road I be feelin’ ’shamed ’bout my rider, baby I’m booked an’ I got to go.

The latter sense is conveyed in a slave reminiscence: “My pappy was a old man when I were born—I were de baby chil’” (Sam McAllum, as quoted in Born in Slavery). ” —Isaiah Nettles, “So Cold In China,” 1935 backbite I will sure backbite you, gnaw you to the bone I don’t mean maybe, I can’t let women alone. —Sylvester Weaver, “Can’t Be Trusted Blues,” 1927 To have sex with a friend’s bedmate.  . ” —Ramblin’ Thomas, “Back Gnawin’ Blues,” 1928 One who backbites; a corruption of biblical terminology that may have been fostered by biter, a slang term for deceiver (Partridge).

An ex-slave noted: “First, the cat is killed and boiled, after which the meat is scraped from the bones. The bones are then taken to the creek and thrown in. The bone that goes up stream is the lucky one and should be kept” (Minnie R. Ross, as quoted in Born in Slavery).  . [with] a piece of lodestone, some kind of red cloth; they got it mixed up together” (Willie Moore). 22 bl ac k bottom black is evil They say black is evil, and they don’t mean you no good But I would not quit my black woman, baby if I could.

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