Monday, April 9, 2012

The Naughty Bits: Jelly Roll

Leon Redbone: Ain't Gonna Give You None Of My Jelly Roll


Tom Rush: Jelly Roll Baker


Bessie Smith: Nobody In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine


Even Wikipedia knows that "jelly roll" is an old euphemism for a variety of sexual terms, most usually the male genitalia. Knowing this fact makes the Leon Redbone tune above - actually a Clarence and Spencer Williams classic from the early days of Louisiana swamp jazz - come across as a song of masturbatory self-discovery and marginally-veiled pedophilia, recasts Tom Rush's take on Lonnie Johnson's field blues as a tune about a man so prideful and celebrated for his sexual prowess, it gets him out of a jail term and has him booking married women three weeks in advance, and turns Bessie Smith's sultry bakery setting - actually another Clarence & Spencer Williams original - into a braggart's bordello, and Smith herself into a slut. And it brings an entirely new meaning to Jelly Roll (aka "Penis") Morton's entire body of work.

You'll never look at pastry the same way again.

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