Odd this day

Praise be! It’s the 88th anniversary of Lucile Bogan recording surely the filthiest song in the history of everything: Shave ’Em Dry. In the ‘dirty blues’ genre, known for innuendo-heavy lyrics, this stands out for regarding the subtleties of innuendo as a disgraceful cop-out.

Old b/w photo of Lucile Bogan. Image shows a Black woman with a bandana in her hair and beads round her neck. She is smiling at the camera

The lyrics open with “I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb”, a line which swiftly proves to be about the cleanest bit. In his 2012 book, The Dozens: A History of Rap’s Mama, music historian Elijah Wald called it “by far the most explicit blues song” of its time.

Bogan, a contemporary of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, was known for songs such as Sloppy Drunk Blues, about booze, gambling, sex, drugs, and prostitution but this was something else. Here’s the first verse:

I got nipples on my titties / Big as the end of my thumb / I got somethin between my legs / That’ll make a dead-man come
Gif of a man in a costume drama saying Good Lord, woman

It was not intended for release, but plenty of things that happen in recording studios aren’t. In 1953, for example, The Blenders recorded an alternative version of their song Don’t Play Around With Love which goes exactly where you’d imagine.

…and presumably when Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden started recording an argument between bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain, he didn’t expect it to become a B-side to an actual single.

Freddie Mercury’s improvisation during the One Vision sessions is another case in point:

But these are small fry by comparison, so it’s clearly time to stop buggering about and give you the link to the whole thing:

…and here are those lyrics:

A small white dog looking startled



Purveyor of niche drivel; marker of odd anniversaries

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