Big Sound Saturdays: Pussy Cat Rag

Say fellers, I lost my little pussycat! Can you help me find it?

Thus spake Zarathustra, and the Lord saw It, and he said that It was good. This week’s mix is all about pussy! I do love a thinly veiled innuendo. Even though slant-songs like these do abound in old-time music, songs that are plain and simple About The V are a much smaller sub-genre. And lieu of a full-blown write up—I don’t want you to feel jet-lagged before you soak in every word of these goofy ass tunes—I’ll leave you with a few fun facts and, this time, a playlist. These titles are too good to hide.

**There are five songs on this mix by women, singing about their own “jelly roll”! This mix is by no means exhaustive—with so many songs to choose from, actually, I was able to be very selective—but the songs I settled on are some of my own personal deep favorites. Susie Edwards, of Butterbeans and Susie vaudeville fame, is the queen of cloy, and Lucille Bogan (who appeared on a guest post, T’aint No Sin To Take Off Your Skin, three weeks back) is the one on this mix who doesn’t even bother with the goofy-thin veneer that is the “pussy” innuendo. I put it last because it still makes me blush.

**“Pussy Pussy Pussy” and “Pussy Cat Rag” are basically the same song, with very different musical trappings! Even though the second sounds like a gospel choir—see below—its performers were far from it; the first is performed by a very popular country music group named for the brand who endorsed their musical careers. Corporate pussy. Go figure.

** The Old South Quartette is one of the earliest (if not the very earliest) biracial pop music groups in American musical history. This is, as you probably figured, an incredibly fraught position to be in during the duration of their popularity, recording seven cylinders for the Edison Amberol and Standard labels circa 1909-1910, and white front man Polk Miller, accompanied by four black musicians including James Stamper and Randall Graves (the names of the other two are lost to us), they performed a repertory that included lots of minstrel tunes, standards, and innuendo songs like this one. The quartet actually continued performing after Polk Miller’s death in 1913, and it wasn’t until 1919 that they first pressed “Pussy Cat Rag.” If you want to know more, Record Fiend has a great write-up on the quartet, with a link to an article on the group from the 78 Quarterly embedded in the post.

Every time I cook, looks like you can’t get enough

Fix you a pot of soup and make you drink it up

So keep on eatin’

Oh, keep on eatin’

Keep on eatin’, baby ‘til you get enough.

  1. Pussy Pussy Pussy – Light Crust Doughboys
  2. Let Me Play With Your Poodle – Tampa Red
  3. Jelly Roll Queen – Susie Edwards
  4. Keep On Eating – Memphis Minnie
  5. Pussy Cat Blues – Bo Carter
  6. My Girl’s Pussy – Harry Roy And His Bat Club Boys
  7. Mama Keep Your Yes Ma’am Clean – Walter Cole
  8. He’s A Jelly Roll Baker – Lonnie Johnson
  9. Sweet Honey Hole – Blind Boy Fuller
  10. I’m A Mighty Tight Woman – Sippie Wallace
  11. Pussy Cat Rag – Old South Quartette
  12. Nobody In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine – Bessie Smith
  13. Shave ‘Em Dry – Lucille Bogan
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