While preparing a report “In Defense of Cussing,” a couple years ago, I stumbled upon a 1937 song by Lucille Bogan that contained the first swear word ever recorded.
I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb. I got somethin’ between my legs that’ll make a dead man come…
The latter half of the line would be borrowed by both Tom Waits (“Pasties and a G-String”) and the Rolling Stones (“Start Me Up”) in the decades to come.
There exists an acceptable time and place for the employment of vulgarity. For Ms. Bogan—who is undeniably a lady of the most righteous sort—that time and place was the sex-infused bowels of African-American juke joints throughout the American South in the 1920s and 1930s, where “Shave ’Em Dry” is set.
You’ll never look at bell snappers the same way again…
I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb I got somethin’ between my legs that’ll make a dead man come Say I fucked all night, and all the night before, baby And I feel just like I wanna fuck some more And I would fuck you, baby, honey, I’d make you cry Now your nuts hang down like a damn bell sapper And your dick stands up like a steeple Your goddamn asshole stands open like a church door And the crabs walk in like people