Dirty blues lyrics and filthy rugby songs: the similarities.

Like blues, rugby can be pretty dirty 


At first glance, blues music and rugby union seem the most unusual bedfellows. Scratch the surface, though, and you’ll see the connections.

The most obvious is how early blues work songs and after-match rugby songs both allow people (men, mainly) to bond through music, through participating in singing together.

The next most obvious is the use of profanities in both early blues and rugby songs. So, if easily shocked, perhaps switch to another post on this site now.

A further example of the link between one of the world’s toughest sports and African-American music is the adoption of the nineteenth century spiritual, Sweet Chariot, by certain rugby crowds. If you’ve ever watched a rugby international on TV and wondered why Sweet Chariot is sung en masse by England supporters, here’s your answer.

At first glance, all seems innocence and light, and religious verses. It is only when you learn that the lyrics to Sweet Chariot have long been accompanied by hand-gestures, especially masturbatory hand-gestures on the word ‘coming’, that you realize the song’s time-honored connection to rugby.

Hand-motions apart, Sweet Chariot is, nevertheless, one of the most inoffensive, least-politically-incorrect of all rugby songs. That is until the extra verse is interjected. This is sung to the tune of another nineteenth century spiritual, When The Chariot Comes, later reworked as She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain.

You can stick your fucking chariot up your arse,

You can stick your fucking chariot up your arse,

You can stick your fucking chariot,

Stick your fucking chariot,

You can stick your fucking chariot up your arse.

Someone once claimed Oscar Wilde wrote some of today’s rugby songs in the nineteenth century but, somehow, I don’t think Oscar was involved in creating the above burst of lyrical wit. Others claim Noel Coward wrote the infamous Eskimo Nell but until proof is delivered, Nell’s author must remain, ‘anon’ and, to my mind, American.

A more provable ancestor of both blues and rugby songs is blackface minstrelsy. Before the American songwriter Stephen Foster cleaned up the words to minstrel songs in the 1850s and made the genre much more palatable to the prudish middle classes, minstrelsy was full of working class smut, performed by black and white alike.

Foster wanted, he said, to “build up taste … among refined people by making words suitable to their taste, instead of the trashy and really offensive words which belong to some songs of that order.”

 It’s hard to find examples of offensive minstrel songs but one from the 1840s was merged with dear old Coming Round The Mountain and ended up as another classic rugby song of American origin called Dinah, Dinah, Show Us Your Leg.

A rich girl has a limousine, a poor girl has a truck
The only time that Dinah rides, is when she has a fuck.
Chorus: Oh, Dinah,
Dinah, show us your leg,
show us your leg, show us your leg,
Dinah, Dinah, show us your leg,
A yard above your knee.
A rich girl wears a brassiere, a poor girl uses string,
Dinah uses none of these, she lets the bastards swing.
Chorus, etc. 
A rich girl uses Vaseline, a poor girl uses lard,
Dinah uses axle grease, because her cunt’s so hard.
Chorus, etc.
And so on and so on.
Thought to be the only pic of Lucille Bogan
Like Eskimo Nell, rugby songs tend to ramble on forever. The idea of comparing rude blues with crude rugby songs was sparked when fellow blues writer, Richard Wall, tweeted a link to a 1936 clip of African-American blues singer Lucille Bogan singing, ‘Shave ‘Em Dry’.

I’d seen this gem before on The Allen Ginsberg Project’s blog and, as it’s the clearer link, Ginsberg’s is the one used below.

The Roland you’ll find mentioned below, incidentally, is Walter Roland, Lucille’s piano player. Just in case you think the lyrics are unclear, here’s what Lucille is singing:

I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb,

I got something between my legs that’ll make a dead man come,

Oh dad, baby won’t you shave ’em dry?

(Aside: Now, draw it out!)

Want you to grind me baby, grind me until I cry.

(Roland: Uh, huh.)

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,

(Roland: Say you gonna get it. You need it.)

Grind me honey and shave me dry,

And when you hear me holler baby, want you to shave it dry.


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 come,

Oh, daddy shave me dry,

(Roland: She ain’t gonna work for it.)

And I’ll give you somethin’ 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 dad, want you to shave ’em dry,

Oh great God daddy, if you can’t shave ’em baby won’t you try?

Now if fuckin’ was the thing, that would take me to heaven,

I’d be fuckin’ in the studio, till the clock strike eleven,

Oh dad, 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 goddam ass-hole stands open like a church door,

And the crabs walks in like people.

Aside: Ow, shit!

(Roland: Aah, sure enough, shave ’em dry?)

Aside: Ooh! Baby, won’t you shave ’em dry


A big sow gets fat from eatin’ corn,

And a pig gets fat from suckin’,

Reason you see this whore, fat like I am,

Great God, I got fat from fuckin’.

Aside: Eeeeh! Shave ’em dry

(Roland: Aah, shake it, don’t break it)


My back is made of whalebone, And my cock is made of brass,

And my fuckin’ is made for workin’ men’s two dollars,

Great God, round to kiss my ass.

Aside: Oh! Whoo, daddy, shave ’em dry.

You have to admit, lyrics like these would be perfectly at home in a rugby club bar. Other songs recorded by Lucille Bogan, who also performed as Bessie Jackson, included B.D. (Bull Dyke) Woman Blues, especially for lesbians. Here’s the link:

Jelly Roll Morton

When Lucille Bogan was just a girl, Jelly Roll Morton was performing rude ragtime in New Orleans brothels around 1908.

These are Jelly Roll’s lyrics, as told to folklorist Alan Lomax in 1938.

Winding, back in the day, meant the same as screwing does now.

I’m the winding boy, don’t deny my name,

I’m the winding boy, bred for fame

I seen that girl sitting on the stump,

I screwed her till her pussy stunk

I met that gal, met her on the grass,

I pulled that snake right from her ass.

Below is a song from even earlier, interjected with so many “ah-hum-titty-bums” that I’ve been forced to leave them out for brevity. The mention of England’s Queen and steam power shows the filthy refrain dates from the Victorian era of 1837 to 1901.

Called The Engineer’s Song, it was originally a famous nineteenth century American sea shanty, sung by blacks and whites alike, and on the docks at ports such as Mobile, Alabama. There’s evidence sea shanties influenced American minstrel songs and vice versa, which in turn influenced African-American work songs. But more about that later.

A black fiddler plays a sea shanty in the 1820s

It was adapted from an earlier song, A Blacksmith Told Me Before He Died. Here’s how it goes:

An engineer told me before he died

He had a wife with a cunt so wide

She was never satisfied

Ah-hum titty-bum titty-bum titty-bum

Ah-hum titty-bum titty-bum titty-bum


So he built a fucking great wheel,

Two brass balls and a prick of steel,

The balls of brass he filled with cream,

And the whole bloody issue was powered by steam

Ah-hum titty-bum, etc.

He lay her down upon the bed,

He put her arms above her head,

There she lay demanding to fuck,

He shook her hand and he wished her luck

Ah-hum titty-bum, etc.

Round and round went the bloody great wheel

In and out went the prick of steel

Up and up went the level of steam

Down and down went the level of cream

Ah-hum titty-bum, etc.

Til at last the maiden cried

Enough! Enough! I’m satisfied!

Now we come to the tragic bit…

There was no way of stopping it

So she was split from arse to tit.

And the whole bloody room was covered in shit

Ah-hum titty-bum, etc.

It jumped off her, and jumped on him

Then it buggered his next of kin 

It hopped upon an uptown bus

And came to fuck the rest of us!

Ah-hum titty-bum, etc

The last time that machine was seen

Was in Buckingham Palace fucking the queen

The moral here is plain clear

You just don’t fuck with an engineer!


The moral here is plain to tell,

If you see it run like hell,


Nine months on a child was born,

With two brass balls and a fucking great horn,

The warning in the story is,

Always fit a safety switch.

Now, I can imagine Oscar Wilde writing those lyrics.

Sea shanties, too, were a great influence on the American folk music that became blues, as well as becoming rugby songs.

Such is the rhythm pattern of the Engineer Told Me’s lyrics, it’s easy to imagine black workers singing it while loading cotton on Mobile’s docks, or on Mississippi river boats. Likewise plantation slaves working in America’s cotton and tobacco fields.

Actually, it’s easy to imaging African-American slaves singing many call and response rugby songs while at toil. And if you think rugby songs can only ever sound tragic and grubby, you only need hear Welsh teams sing them in full majestic Welsh-choir-mode to think otherwise.

Take the chorus of The Mayor of Glamorgan (or Bayswater, etc), for example:

And the hairs (and the hairs)

And the hairs (and the hairs)

And the hairs on her dicky-di-doe  

Hang down to her knee.

The lyrics look a bit pathetic in print but is quite something else when given the call and response treatment by a full Welsh male voice choir, or rugby team attempting to emulate one. It’s difficult to offer decent rugby song clips as an example because the standard of clubhouse singing on YouTube is so amateur and awful, although I’m sure the drunken singers think they sound great (as you often do when you’re drunk). No offence, lads. Google a couple and you’ll see what I mean.

A favourite rugby song from the 1920s is Bye Bye Blackbird, based on yet another American popular song, first recorded by the pioneer crooner Gene Austin in 1926. The rugby lyrics go:


Once a boy was no good, took a girl into a wood,

Bye, Bye, Blackbird.

Laid her down upon the grass, pinched her tits and slapped her arse

Blackbird Bye, Bye.

Took her where nobody else could find her,

to a place where he could really grind her,

Bye, Bye, Blackbird.

Rolled her over on her front, shoved his prick right up her cunt,

Blackbird Bye, Bye.


But this girl was no sport, took her story to a court,

Bye, Bye, Blackbird.

Told her story in the morn, all the jury had the horn,

Blackbird, Bye, Bye.


Then the judge made his decision, this poor cunt got years in prison,

Bye, Bye, Blackbird.

So next time, boys, do it right, Stuff her cunt with dynamite,

Blackbird, Bye, Bye.

On the whole, though, while rugby songs are full-on filth, most early blues are full of much tamer double entendre (Lucille Hogan excepted of course). This was also a time of raunchy comic blues called hokum popular in the 1920s. An example is Butterbeans and Susie’s I Want A Hot Dog For my Roll from 1927. Bear in mind a jelly roll was 1890s street slang for female genitalia. The lyrics are below the link.

BUTTER: Hot dog, hot dog, here come the hot dog man

SUSIE: Hey, come here

BUTTER: What is it, lady?

SUSIE: Butter, I see you got a hot dog stand

BUTTER: You know something, Sue

I’m known now as the hot dog man, yes sir, hot dog

SUSIE: Well listen, well, I want a dog without bread, you see

BUTTER: Why, why what’s the matter

SUSIE: Because I carries my bread with me

BUTTER: Now Sue, you peculiar and that’s an actual fact

SUSIE: Yes, and if I like your dog, why I’ll come back

BUTTER: I know you will

SUSIE: How much is it, I’m here to pay

Satisfy me, listen while I say

BUTTER: What is you got to say?

Butterbeans and Susie

SUSIE: I want a hot dog for my roll 
BUTTER: Well, here it is, here it is

SUSIE: I want it hot, I don’t want it cold

BUTTER: My dog’s never cold

SUSIE: Give me a big one, that’s what I say

I want it so it will fit my bread

BUTTER: Now here’s a hot dog for your roll

SUSIE: Now is it young, I don’t want it cold

BUTTER: My dog never cold

SUSIE: I sure will be disgusted if this dog ain’t

full of mustard

Don’t want no excuse, it must have lots of juice

I want a hot dog for my roll

BUTTER: Come and let me straighten you out

Now here’s a dog that’s long and lean

SUSIE: Oh-oh, that ain’t the kind of dog I mean

BUTTER: Now here’s a dog, Sue, that’s short and fat

SUSIE: But I sure need somethin’ different from that

SUSIE: Now here’s my roll

BUTTER: Where’s your roll?

SUSIE: Now where’s your dog?

BUTTER: Oh-oh, sister, that roll you got will hold a

half a hog, yes sir!

SUSIE: Hey listen, Butter, can you fit it?

BUTTER: Why, sure I can

SUSIE: Why boy?

BUTTER: Why, Sue, I’m known now as a champion hot

dog man

BUTTER: Now here’s a hot dog for your roll

SUSIE: It must be hot, I don’t want it cold

BUTTER: My dog’s never cold

SUSIE: Give me a big one, that’s what I say

I want it so it will fit my bread

BUTTER: Now here’s a hot dog for your roll

SUSIE: Now is it young, I don’t want it old

BUTTER: You know, my dog’s never old

SUSIE: I sure will be disgusted if this dog ain’t

full of mustard

Don’t want no excuse, it must have lots of juice

I want a hot dog for my roll

BUTTER: Hot dog man is goin’, I’m goin’, hot dog

Bessie Smith picked up on this theme with ‘Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl, hot dog in my roll’.

Hokum blues was full of stuff like that. In Ma Rainey’s 1924 song, C.C. Rider, Ma wonders where her jelly bean has gone. Ma Rainey’s famous accompanists, slide pioneer, Tampa Red, and his partner, Georgia Tom, had the biggest blues hit of the 1920s with It’s Tight Like That.

And in 1935, queen of the blues guitar, Memphis Minnie, released a song she called Dirty Mother For Ya. Check it below:


The marvellous Memphis Minnie
Everyone knew what Minnie meant, and soon Roosevelt Sykes and a heap of other blues legends were recording the phrase as Dirty Mother Fucker (it was two words in those days).

Bo Carter recorded, Please Warm My Weiner in 1935 and Robert Johnson sang ‘Squeeze my lemon, till the juice runs down my leg’ 30 years before Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.

If anyone offended by these lyrics is still reading, please remember your fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers probably sang similar songs, when there were no ladies present, especially if they served in a war. We think times have changed, but have they really? The most offensive rap lyrics sound almost naïve compared to the songs of 80, 100, 120 years ago. And I haven’t even mentioned the violent blues lyrics from the old days.

Even so, these songs are our heritage, and if they’re not publicized now, the danger is they’ll be forgotten for ever. So, if you know of any blues songs filthier than the ones listed here, please contact me and I’ll publish them. As far as rugby songs go, there are many, many more songs cruder and ruder than the ones featured here. You can find them on the net.

The same rationale goes for blues history. If people don’t get to read about it, the origins of blues will disappear for ever into the mists of time.

Please note: I’ve since further researched the link between sea shanties, rugby song and blues resulting in the post ‘Continuing Dirty Blues and Filthy Rugby Songs … their missing link discovered’ posted on 20 February 2015.

“Your blog is incredible! Thank you so much for the mention, too.”

Richard Wall (@writinblues)