We often think that the sexual revolution began in the 1960’s and that gay rights started with Stonewall, but the reality is sex, even queer sex, has been around forever and the 1920’s provided a particularly rampant sexual era.
They don’t call it “The Gay 20’s” for nothing.
This got me thinking about all the sexualized songs that existed in my grandparents generation, way before Elvis’s thrusting pelvis made the scene. My grandfather and I paint in his studio together and he loves to point out how scandalous the Andrew Sisters – a favorite of ours to play while painting – were with their songs of “sea food” and discussion of prostitution.
I love these old songs because of their subtlety. I want to eat that barbeque, I want to shave ’em dry and I want to be a honeydripper so much more than I want to drink the “cocktales” of today’s music (although I must admit I love dirty songs of today as well). Some of them, however, aren’t quite so subtle and are outright offensive, especially for their time. And that makes me love them even more.
(This list made with help from the album Vintage Sex Songs, a movie I once saw about queer women in the 20s, my grandfather – who introduced me to a lot of this music and pointed out to me that they’re about sex – and our Facebook and Twitter followers. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to help us make future Mixed Tapes.)
I’m a Mighty Tight Woman – Sippie Thomas
Rum and Coca Cola – Andrews Sisters
The Honeydripper – Cab Calloway
I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl – Bessie Smith
King Size Papa – Julia Lee
I Found Your KeyHole – Al Miller
It’s Tight Like That – Clara Smith
Hold Tight – Andrew Sisters
Bedspring Blues – Jimmie Gordon
Shave ‘Em Dry – Lucille Bogan
Know any that we missed?