Swearing in songs, as in speech, is used in all sorts of ways and for all kinds of reasons. I won’t even try to be representative here, even of a single genre in a given era. This is the first sweary songs post on Strong Language but it won’t be the last. Some of the tracks featured will be very sweary, others minimally so or only suggestive, but you should assume all audio is VFNSFW (very fucking not suitable for work).
First up is an a cappella song so sweet and jaunty you could almost play it in the company of your old-fashioned in-laws – as long as they didn’t listen too closely to the words. It’s the dangerously catchy ‘Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball’ by ’50s doo-wop group The Clovers. Sample lyric:
Cocksuckin’ Sammy get your motherfuckin’ mammy,
We’re goin’ downtown to the Cocksuckers’ Ball.
Fuck, suck and fight, till beginning of the broad daylight.
Listen to it more than once and you’ll be singing it all day. The song is a loose and liberal reworking of the jazz standard ‘Darktown Strutters’ Ball’, and appeared in a 1954 collection titled ‘The Copulatin’ Blues Volume 2’, which you can listen to here.
My introduction to ‘Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball’ was a cover version by the Asylum Street Spankers, who have a penchant for such filth. Their faithful barbershop-quartet-style rendition can be heard here, complete with lyrics. Frank Zappa also covered the song, as did the funsome foursome below, who made a cheerful video to accompany it:
I thought the Asylum Street Spankers were responsible for a charming song called ‘My Vagina’ that I half-remember, but I can’t find it so I’ll defer that one for now. It’s not the NOFX song of the same name, and I don’t think I’m imagining it. Anyway, in the meantime try the Spankers’ rudely lovely ‘Scrotum Song’:
Scrotum, scrotum, it’s my wrinkly crinkly bag of skin.
Scrotum, scrotum, it’s the thing I keep my testes in.
Moving from ribald to risqué, if not exactly sweary, we find jazz and blues legend Dinah Washington demanding satisfaction in ‘Big Long Slidin’ Thing’. It’s about someone working up a jam with his, er, trombone:
He said, ‘I came to do some tinklin’ on your piano keys.’
I said, ‘Don’t make me nervous, this ain’t no time to tease.
Just send me my daddy, send me my daddy with that big long slidin’ thing.’
Here’s a fun live version of more recent vintage, performed by Ingrid Lucia, Duke Heitger, Craig Klein, John Fohl, Jermal Watson and Barry Stephenson in New Orleans in 2012. It comes complete with explicit trombone action foregrounded:
In a similar dirty-blues vein of heavy innuendo is Bo Carter’s ‘All-Around Man’:
Now I ain’t no plumber, no plumber’s son,
I can do your screwin’ till the plumber man comes
‘Cos I’m a all-around man, oh I’m a all-around man.
Getting back to explicit swearing we have The Blenders’ finger-clicking ‘Don’t Fuck Around With Love’, recorded in 1953 at the same session as their radio-friendly alternative ‘Don’t Play Around With Love’:
PJ Harvey made a simple conceit bold and artful in ‘Who the Fuck’:
What the fuck you doin’ in there
Get your dirty fingers out of my hair
While the gloriously unclassifiable Ween conjured up a boisterous Gaelic tavern with ‘The Blarney Stone’:
Get off my ass, you wee bitty fuck
If I pull out the claymore you’re shit outta luck
Fully eighty years ago Lucille Bogan recorded some amazingly bawdy blues, such as ‘Shave Me Dry’. This opening lyric is mild compared to what follows:
I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb,
I got somethin’ between my legs’ll make a dead man come.
If you’re in the mood for a shouty swear-along, Butt Trumpet’s ‘I’ve been so mad lately’ or Splatpattern’s ‘Fucking Fucking Fuck’ might be just the ticket. If cabaret is more your style, go with Millie Jackson’s crowd-pleasing ‘Fuck You Symphony’:
This kind of post could go on forever, so I’ll abandon shit here. Feel free to add your favourites in the comments.
One last swear, of a different kind: Nina Simone’s protest song ‘Mississippi Goddam’, banned in several US states upon its release in 1964: