Not one, but three (not so little) girls standing there with red dresses on

You might have read in my last post about the words ‘blues’ (as in music), and ‘cat’ (as in cool dude or blues player), first
appearing in print.

Let’s now expand on that by examining that iconic
blues and rock & roll phrase: the ‘little girl standing there with a red dress on’. It first appeared in
1928, on a record by the Alabama-born pianist and comedian, Clarence “Pine Top”
Smith. Other notable phrases in the blues and rock lexicon also made their
debut on that very same track, including: ‘shake a peg’, ‘shake that thing’ and
‘mess around’. Most important of all, though, was the title of the record,
‘Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie’, thought to be the very first time the term boogie
woogie was used. Take a listen to this mould-breaking track for yourself:
Link
to
Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie here: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6dPdfXZVI8
Know
what I’m talking about
Also appearing on ‘Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie’ in
1928 was that well known rock and soul line, “know what I’m talking about”. Robert
Plant, for example, exclaims it in Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Lemon Song’.
What the
funk
Talking about soul, the word ‘funk’ is even older
than Pine Top Smith’s one-liners. One of its first uses was by African-American
patrons to describe New Orleans’ infamous Union Sons Hall, a
Baptist church hall used to hold Saturday night dances in the 1890s. The hall
was known as the Funky Butt Ballroom, which apparently referred to the pungent
stench produced by its sweat and booze-soaked dancers.
Union Sons Hall (right of pic) was demolished in the 1950s
One
of the most popular outfits to appear at the Funky Butt Ballroom was Buddy
Bolden’s band, Buddy Bolden being the horn player and band leader generally credited
with turning hot ragtime into New Orleans’ pre-jazz blues in the late 1890s.
Bolden’s band had a theme song they called Funky Butt, later turned into ‘Buddy
Bolden’s Blues’ by the New Orleans piano player, Jelly Roll Morton, who
recorded it for the American Library of Congress in 1938. Here’s the link to
Jelly Roll’s version.
Buddy
Bolden’s trombone player, Willy Cornish, claimed to have written ‘Funky Butt’,
the original lyrics of

Back row 2nd left, Buddy Bolden. 2nd right, Willie Cornish 

which went something like this:   

“You
see that girl with the blue dress on

(Guitar answers)
She got stinky butt, funky butt, leave
it alone
`Cause I don’t like it no-how.”
 In keeping with most songs of the era, the
song was near the bone and designed to make you laugh. You’ll have also noticed
that Willie Cornish’s ‘Girl with the blue dress on’ preceded Pine Top Smith’s ‘Girl
with the red dress on’ by some 30 years. But I guess the red dress won out in
the long run.

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