I listened with half an ear as I piloted the family bus, pondering this and that, when the chorus of one particularly louche Thirties-sounding number reached out and grabbed me by the lapels, demanding my attention:
Bang away my LuluWell!
Bang away good and strong
What are we going to do for banging
When Lulu's gone?
My goodness, that certainly sounds filthy, doesn't it?
Intrigued, I researched the song, found the recording Dick played. Here it is, go ahead and listen (it will open in a new window).
It turns out Grand Ol' Opry fixture Roy Acuff, "King of the Hillbillies," the "Backwoods Sinatra," the "Caruso of Mountain Music," in the earliest moments (ca. 1937) of his extremely long and distinguished career, cut a few "risqué" sides with some pickup sidemen. "When Lulu's Gone" was released under the name "The Bang Boys" -- which ought to make youngsters casting about for a punk-band name stand up and whinny. You could do lots worse.
(By way of gauging Acuff's influence on the world of country music, the song you're listening to is absolutely one of the first applications of the Dobro resophonic guitar to a hillbilly song.)
"Bang Away Lulu,"which I naturally thought was the name of the song, produces some mightly rich Google results. Quite plainly, Roy and the Bang Boys spent quite a bit of effort toning down a song that already had been quite a bit filthier even than the pretty racy one they put out. One version, to be found here, has as its first verse,
I wish I was a diamond upon my Lulu's hand,
And every time she wiped her ass, I'd see the promised land,
Bang away, my Lulu; bang away good and strong.
Oh, what'll we do for a damn good screw when our Lulu's dead and gone?
Roy and the Boys watered that down to:
I wish I was a diamond upon my Lulu's handAnother Googled version of the song reveals it as a "teasing song," the sort of parlor game where the rhyme is only clear if you know your Durty Wurdz:
Every time she'd take her bath I'd be a lucky man
Bang away my Lulu; bang away good and strong
What are going to do for banging when Lulu's gone?
All of this is by way of showing, I suppose, that despite their best efforts to hide it, our ancestors had themselves some libidos. My parents came from somewhere, and for all I know "Bang Away Lulu" might have helped that happen.
Lulu's got a rooster.
Lulu's got a duck.
She put them in the bathtub
To see if they would --
Bang, bang Lulu.
Lulu's gone away.
Who we gonna bang, bang
Since Lulu's gone away?
More proof of libidinous grandparents comes in the form of the Depression-era Tijuana Bible, little 8-page pornographic booklets that parodied popular comic strips and movies of the day. Examine those Bibles closely, with the particular thought in mind of the influence they can't possibly have failed to exert on Sixties underground cartoonist R. Crumb.
Now, to tie a nice little bow around our whole little excursion into Depression-era lubricity, listen to R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders with their own filthy little tune, "My Girl's Pussy."
There. My work here is done. Go ye and produce a generation of your own. I hope a few of 'em look like Steve Canyon and think like Roy Acuff.