Category Archives: Barrelhouse Words

black cat bone I believe my good gal have found my black cat bone I can leave Sunday mornin’ Monday mornin’ I’m tippin’ ’round home. —Blind Lemon Jefferson, “Broke And Hungry,” 1926 A hoodoo charm held to confer magical powers … Continue reading

bird liver I wanna give you folks a warnin’, I mean this mornin’, An’ I want you all to strictly understand: Now you can call me what you choose, but I’m a bird liver-cravin’ man. —Sylvester Kimbrough, “Bird Liver Blues,” … Continue reading

break one’s neck Way down South you oughta see the women Shimmy and shake Got a new way a-wiggle, make a weak man break his neck. —Blind Lemon Jefferson, “Southern Woman Blues,” 1928 To marry, in Southern slang (Hendrickson, Whistlin’ … Continue reading

jellybean Down on Franklin Avenue, jellybeans standin’ to an’ fro Well you hear one jellybean ask the other one: “Which a-way did my good girl go?” —”Hi” Henry Brown, “Nut Factory Blues,” 1932 A moron or simpleton. As an ex-employee … Continue reading

in one’s whiskey When I’m in my whiskey, I don’t care what I say ‘Cause me and my whiskey, we going to have our way. —Barbecue Bob, “Me And My Whiskey,” 1929 Intoxicated; perhaps suggested by the genteel equivalent, in … Continue reading

butter and egg man Why don’t you take me pretty mama, make something out of poor me? I’m just a butter and egg man, just as soft as I can be. —Papa Charlie Jackson, “Butter And Egg Man Blues,” 1926 … Continue reading

On November 2, 2009, we will publish Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary by Stephen Calt, which has been in the works since the late 1960s.  Periodically, between now and the book’s official release, I’ll post an entry from Barrelhouse Words. First … Continue reading