Mess around … with a red dress on … know what I’m talking about?
|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 black musician), first appearing in print.
Let’s expand on this by examining that iconic blues and rock ‘n’ roll phrase, the ‘Little girl standing there with a red dress on’.
This time-trodden cliche first appeared in 1928, on a record by the Alabama-born African-American 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 in printed form. Take a listen to this mould-breaking track for yourself:
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, used this expression in many Led Zeppelin songs – for example: ‘The Lemon Song’.
What the funk
|Union Sons’ Hall (right of pic) was demolished in the 1950s|
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 pretty near the bone and designed to make listeners’ laugh.
You’ll have also noticed that Willie Cornish’s ‘Girl with the blue dress on’ (above) 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.
|Back row 2nd left, Buddy Bolden. 2nd right, Willie Cornish|