Friday, January 8, 2016

Gene Autry's X-rated songs

Singing cowboy Gene Autry was a children's hero and a patriot (he figures in the story of why Roy Rogers and John Wayne didn't serve in World War II), but many of his fans don't know that he also recorded a couple of very uncharacteristic X-rated songs early in his career. 

These two songs, which are sexually explicit versions of the folk standards "Frankie and Johnny" and "Bye Bye Blackbird" (retitled "Bye Bye Boyfriend") can be found in a few collections. Both recordings are on the 1984 Stash Records LP Copulatin' Blues Volume Two, but they are credited to "unknown cowboy." The 9-CD Bear Family box set That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine, which collects all of Autry's recordings from 1929-1933, also includes both recordings. "Frankie and Johnny" by itself is included on the Grammercy Records anthology Those Dirty Blues Volume 3.

Of the two recordings, "Bye Bye Boyfriend" is the most explicit. If you're familiar with Autry's clean-cut image from his films and television shows of the 1940s and '50s, then listening to that song in particular is a bit surreal. 

Holly George-Warren, in her book Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry, talks about the origin of these recordings: 
At some point in the New York ARC studio, maybe as early as the November 1931 sessions, as a private joke, Gene and Roy Smeck (whom Gene nicknamed "Prick Smack") recorded an explicit version of "Frankie and Johnny" and the X-rated "Bye-Bye Boyfriend" (to the tune of "Bye-Bye Blackbird") ... Gene's saucy recordings, which ran completely contrary to his admonition against risqué tunes in his songwriting booklet, were never released during his lifetime.
George-Warren also points out that Art Satherly, Autry's producer, sometimes had his artists record risqué material that would be released under pseudonyms. The most famous example is the Prairie Ramblers, whose performances of songs such as "I Love My Fruit" and "We're the Sweet Violet Boys" (an early version of the mind-rhyme song "Sweet Violets") were commercially released under the name Sweet Violet Boys.

You can hear* both of Autry's X-rated songs and view the lyrics below.

*Not anymore. I took the links down because Google has flagged 4Shared as a malware site. 

"Frankie and Johnny"

Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts
They had a quarrel one day
Frankie accused her Johnny
Of giving his peter away
To a gal, and he was doing her wrong

So Frankie went down to the whorehouse
She went in rangin' a bell
She said, "Stand back, all you whores and pimps
Or I'll blow you all into hell.
You've got my man, and he's doing me wrong."

Well, one whore said to Frankie
Said, "Looky here, young gal. 
We've got your lovin' Johnny
And he's back here giving us tail
He is your man, and he's doing me wrong." 

So Frankie went down to that sayloon
She took with her a gun
She said, "Stand back, you red-headed whore,
'Cause I'm gonna blow you in one.
You got my man, and he's doing me wrong."

"Bye Bye Boyfriend" (AKA "Bye Bye Blackbird")

You put your hand beneath my dress
There you found a blackbird's nest
Bye bye, boyfriend

Throw your ass against the wall
Here I come, balls and all
Bye bye, cherry

I ain't got a hell of a lot
But what I've got will tickle your tw*t
Bye bye, cherry

Throw your legs around me little honey
This thing of mine is feeling kind of funny
Shake your ass and wiggle your t*ts
'Til your little snapper splits
Bye bye, cherry


  1. Hi, and thanks for all the cool stuff you share! It does appear that the Grammercy Records YouTube channel has (among many others) the original recording of Autry's version of both Frankie And Johnny, in addition to Bye Bye Cherry (I couldn't find it when looking for Bye Bye Boyfriend/Blackbird).

  2. Also, the lyrics are somewhat different in Grammercy's "Bye Bye Cherry" than the ones that you posted. :-)