Blues  •  Early Acoustic Blues

Dirty Blues

The Dirty Blues is a bit of a cliché in some areas, and to many modern ears, it seems more a joke than a legitimate form. But the dirty blues has a long tradition in the blues, and it often resurfaces in modern blues and rock. During the early days of recorded blues, raunchy songs were recorded nearly as often as love songs and laments. These songs were distinguished by their often humorous double entendres and metaphors; in performance, the songs could actually flirt with the vulgar, but on wax, the meanings were suggested. The dirty blues primarily were about sex, but there were many songs about drugs and reefer that were essentially dirty blues -- namely, simple country blues with taboo lyrics. The dirty blues thrived in the days before World War II. After the war, many record labels concentrated on records that were commercially viable, and the dirty blues faded away, only to be resurrected during the blues revival of the '60s, when many white collegiates discovered the form.