Slim Harpo, “I’m A King Bee”

The blues got a bad rap for decades because the songs were sometimes so sexually suggestive, while popular (generally white) entertainment wasn’t allowed to even hint at such risqué subjects. But this perceived lewdness, which is tame by today’s standards, has been part of the charm of the blues for many since the beginning. Louisiana Bayou bluesman James Moore, who adopted the far cooler name of Slim Harpo, may not have been quite as bold as Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson, and his nasally and not-particularly bluesy voice didn’t exactly scream “sex.” Lyrically, though, he could get down and dirty, as he did with the first verse of the 1957 classic “I’m a King Bee:” Well I'm a king bee  Buzzing around your hive  Well I'm a king bee, baby  Buzzing around your hive  Yeah I can make honey baby  Let me come inside The double entendre here is fairly obvious and was no doubt a scary proposition for radio, which was still pushing Pat Boone. It wasn’t long before this attitude started to change, especially when Atlantic’s Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler had the gumption to release the sexually charged “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles.  Inspiration can come…

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