BitchTapes: Oldies Were TOO About Sex!

Deb Jannerson
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Tired of hearing that musicians of the last twenty years (or just the ones you like) have unprecedentedly filthy minds? Welcome to a blast-from-the-past BitchTape that speaks for itself! Chime in with your own faves in the comments.

1. "(Love is Like a) Heat Wave" by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas

Let's start off with one of my all-time favorite songs. This tune seems innocent enough for it to be covered in PG-rated movies, but I love its matter-of-fact approach to lustful attraction. It doesn't hurt that Martha Reeves knocks the vocals out of the park!

2. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys

I started to write out examples of suggestive, restrained lyrics for this one, but they quickly became the whole song. Oh, adolescent dreaming!

3. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" by the Shirelles

Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media by Susan J. Douglas has a lot to say about how this song nudged the still-taboo topic of female sexuality a little closer to the spotlight.

4. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" by the Beatles

Sure, rumor has it that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" involved, shall we say, metaphors, but as they grew as artists, the Fab Four got a lot more overt.

5. "Love Child" by Diana Ross & the Supremes

And now, for the Tell Your Children!-esque portion of our program, Ross encourages abstinence because she doesn't want to "end up hatin'/The child we may be creatin'!" In her defense, musicians, like filmmakers, were often not allowed to address "controversial" topics unless they seemed to condemn them.

6. "Boogie Shoes" by K.C. & the Sunshine Band

Dear readers, I am so confused. While it's clear to anyone who cares what this song's about, what are "boogie shoes?" Are they condoms? easily removed clothes? or just... a really sexy pair of shoes?

7. "Wake Up Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers

Did they or didn't they? We, the listeners, might never know, but after a young couple inadvertantly spends the night together, they worry "What're we gonna tell our friends when they say 'Ooh-la-la?'" This catchy ditty also inspired the best Boy Meets World episode ever.

8. "Let's Misbehave" by Irene Bordoni

The oldie-est of oldies on this mix, this recording is from 1928. I also recommend Elvis Costello's 2004 cover, because what do you get when you cross a classic rock artist with a Cole Porter-penned musical number? A LATTER-DAY OLDIES HEAVEN! Maybe I should call it "Three Minutes in Heaven."

9. "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs

"I'm gonna drink a lot o' coffee, spend a little cash/Make that girl love me when I put on some trash" Again, I don't know what it means, but it sounds SCANDALOUS.

10. "Fever" by Peggy Lee

This track was considered boundary-pushing in the '50s—because of raciness, not its questionable examples of romance—but I can't hear it without thinking of Soldier's Girl.

11. "I Know What Boys Like" by the Waitresses

Okay, this one's a bit of a stretch since as far as I know, the ambiguous "oldies" blanket is not considered by most to cover the '80s. But hey, it came out in 1980, several years before I was born, and thus is categorized as such in my mind. Plus, it's a really spectacular song.

12. "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James & the Shondelles


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9 Comments Have Been Posted

I'm a big fan of the old

I'm a big fan of the old blues and jazz songstresses, and upon reading this I immediately thought of a couple of very overt songs:

First, "Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl" by Bessie Smith-- singing all the way back in the 1920s, Smith was a huge influence on artists like Billie Holiday and others.

The other song I thought of was "Big Long Slidin' Thing," by Dinah Washington-- in which Washington laments the loss of her 'trombone-playing man' and his titular instrument, and tells how other musicians don't compare.

Cole Porter

Cole Porter in general, I would say. I am often surprised by how racy his lyrics are—of course I'm drawing a blank right now, but go have a listen!

Don't forget everything ever

Don't forget everything ever that Sam the Sham ever wrote or covered.
"I'm so glad she's not a blade of grass cuz that would make me be....a little grasshopper! [chomping noises]"
I don't even know the name of that song but it so makes me crack up....

A fine selection! Here's some of my personal favorites...

For another example from Tommy James and the Shondells, there's "I Think We're Alone Now" (most people know the Tiffany version, but the meaning seems to be lost in her bubblegum pop translation). Also, let us not forget "Angel of the Morning" by Merilee Rush and the Turnabouts, which in its time was a pretty rare example of a woman's take on a one-night stand.

Just listen to "Shave 'Em

Just listen to "Shave 'Em Dry" by Lucille Bogan. 1935, with lyrics like "Now if fuckin' was the thing, that would take me to heaven, I'd be fuckin' in the studio, till the clock strike eleven." As far as the '20s go, "My Daddy Rocks Me" by Frankie Half-Pint Jaxon has rather extended feigned orgasm (and is sung by a female impersonator), and "Prove It on Me Blues" by Ma Rainey, while not particularly sexual, is a rare lesbian anthem. I suppose '20s and '30s jazz isn't really "oldies" in the sense of the songs in the playlist, but they're good.

What about Serge Gainsbourg?

The song "Je t' non plus"was banned in 1969 a number of countries (including the U.S.) for lyrics that roughly translate to "I come and go between your kidneys," "Oh my love, physical love without end, I go and go and come," and Jane Birkin's lusty moaning in the background. Her groans were so realistic (cue, 'I'll have what she's having...') that some speculated that the recording was really of the then-couple having sex in the studio! And this after Serge had already recorded an equally scandalous version with Brigitte Bardot that so infuriated her husband, it wasn't released until the 80s. If that's not a precedent for contemporary "filth," I don't know what is.

nina simone

the most sex-positive song i think i've ever heard: gimme some by nina simone.
honestly: "One of these mornings, just about dawn, You'll be working on my lawn, Gimme some"

Name Change

"One O'Clock Jump" was originally named "Blue Ball". The radio DJ changed the name on the spot because he didn't think he could say Blue Ball on the air.

And we must not forget "Body and Soul".

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