LET ME PLAY WITH YOUR POODLE(Author Erwin Bosman – www.myblues.eu)“Let me play with your poodle”. Tampa Red has asked this in 1942, Sam Lightnin’ Hopkinsreiterated the question some ten years later, and more recently in 1997 the Texan female bluessinger Marcia Ball even dedicated a complete CD to this irksome plea. So both male andfemale liked to play with the other one’s poodle.Hokum Blueswas very popular in the twenties and the thirties, and its historical roots go back to the minstrelsy in the 18th century when, as part of a global comic act, “double entendre” or hidden references to either racial or sexual questions in humorous terms was performed muchto the amusement of the audience in theaters or in the street. Hokum was a way of dealing in aeuphemistic and humorist way with different forms of racial questions and/or sexual types of behavior.After the economic depression had hit hard in 1929 leaving a desolate economic and socialdesert, one could have expected that blues would be a medium by which the hardships of lifewould find its expression. Nothing of the kind! Certainly, some blues artists sung about it, andthe artist I’ll deal with below, used a lot of his songs to communicate about the hardships hesuffered as a blind hobo in the thirties, but the general tone of blues in those days remained asit was before : it dealt with personal pain and joy, with the love for a woman, and the painwhen she leaves or deceives. The undertone was very often sexual and the wording of thesexual connotation was sometimes soft, however sometimes also very overt, not very far awayfrom plain pornographic insinuations.Blind Boy Fuller, the man I want to elaborate a bit on now, had a repertoire of which hokumwas a substantial part. Samual Chambers, in his ‘
The Country Blues
‘ standard book of 1959 brushes the scene of people gathered around a phonograph listening to Fuller’s music tryingto guess as a kind of game what he really meant by his wordings. Sometimes however, it wasnot too hard to guess when he sung “
I want some of your pie
“, or “
Sweet Honey Hole
‘, or even “Get your Yas Yas out” (which inspired the Rolling Stones for their 1970-album : GetYer Ya-Ya’ s out”).Blind Boy Fuller was not his real name. He was born as Fulton Aller in a large familysometime between 1907 and 1910 (there is no definitive agreement on the precise date) in North Carolina, in theAppalachian region. The mountains of this impoverished region,stretching from the south to the north on the East Coast, formed a natural barrier for themigration flow of black families from the Mississippi to the North. The rough regioncontained a high degree of Afro-Americans and was an important breeding ground for the the blues. The folk music of the Appalachian is a unique mix of European (Scottish, Irish) andAfrican influences which, by his geographical isolation, has developed its very owncharacteristics. The banjo music occupies an important place in it, and it is said that the rootsof the Appalachian blues go further back in time to the African roots than the delta blues. ThePiedmontfinger-pickingstyle of guitar playing is very typical of this East Coast blues.Blind Boy Fuller has become one of the iconic figures of this Piedmont blues style. Hesummarized the style he heard from musicians around him as Gary Davis, Blind Blake andBlind Willie McTell, and also directly from field hollers, but transformed it to his very own,amazing guitar playing idiom, which made of him the last of the popular guitar blues artists before the World War II.