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What the hell is a 'salty dog'?

DigiTrad:
SALTY DOG BLUES


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Salty Dog Blues (17)
Lyr Req: Salty Dog Rag (19)
Chord Req: Salty dog (12)
Salty Dog - what is it? (12)
What's a 'Salty Dog?' (70)


Iodine 19 Feb 02 - 08:41 AM
Trevor 19 Feb 02 - 09:38 AM
Richie 18 Jun 09 - 09:39 AM
Mr Happy 18 Jun 09 - 09:58 AM
Stringsinger 18 Jun 09 - 10:17 AM
Richie 18 Jun 09 - 01:37 PM
kendall 18 Jun 09 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 18 Jun 09 - 03:50 PM
Richie 18 Jun 09 - 03:54 PM
Joe_F 18 Jun 09 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 18 Jun 09 - 06:20 PM
fumblefingers 18 Jun 09 - 09:47 PM
PoppaGator 19 Jun 09 - 01:35 PM
meself 19 Jun 09 - 01:55 PM
Stringsinger 19 Jun 09 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,Ted 08 Jan 20 - 08:01 PM
meself 08 Jan 20 - 09:21 PM
Lighter 09 Jan 20 - 11:49 AM
rich-joy 09 Jan 20 - 06:53 PM
cnd 10 Jan 20 - 12:02 AM
meself 10 Jan 20 - 12:39 AM
cnd 10 Jan 20 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 04:26 AM
Lighter 10 Jan 20 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 10:26 AM
Lighter 12 Jan 20 - 08:43 PM
meself 12 Jan 20 - 08:47 PM
Lighter 12 Jan 20 - 09:00 PM
GUEST,paperback 13 Jan 20 - 04:39 PM
cnd 17 Jan 20 - 05:03 PM
GUEST 24 Jan 20 - 02:06 AM
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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Iodine
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 08:41 AM

Demi, You find it hard to use the word semen in songs about sailors????????? Seems to me it's the natural thing to do considering one of the specialties of Seamen is to avail all the lassies of their semen in every port around the world! I think it must be a tradition lmao !!!!!


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Trevor
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 09:38 AM

Has anybody heard the Steve Tilston song of the same name. I've heard him sing it a few times, with WAZ, as a solo and as a duo with a woman whose name escapes me. It always brings a tear to the eye.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Richie
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 09:39 AM

Hi,

I just did a painting of Salty Dog Blues:

http://www.mattesonart.com/blog.aspx

This explains everything- Ha ha,

Richie


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 09:58 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salty_dog


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 10:17 AM

"Salty dog" as I understand it is a euphemism for one who gives sexual stimulation
orally to sex organs.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Richie
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 01:37 PM

I thought including a meat grinder was a good double entendre. I also have a woman eating a hot dog even tho it's a sand sculpture, didn't want it to be overt.

Richie


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: kendall
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 02:27 PM

I once asked a long time bluegrass performer and he said
It is a pimp.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 03:50 PM

While John Stewart was with The Kingston Trio, they included "Salty Dog" on an LP, with John playing a 12-string. Coincidentally, the next to last verse(probably composed by John or Nick)is included below. For all I know, they may have rewritten most or all of it.

"Let me be your salty dog,
You won't need no man at all,
Honey, let me be your salty dog.

"I got a gal an' she's ten feet tall,
Sleeps in the kitchen with her head in the hall,
Honey, let me be your salty dog.

"Two ol' ladies a-sittin' in the sand,
Each one a-wishin' the other was a man,
Honey, let me be your salty dog.

"Floatin' down the river on an old oak log,
What the hell's a salty dog?" (the line is almost an aside)
Honey, let me be your salty dog."

"I think it better be the end of this song,
'cause it's a-gettin' too damn long,
Honey, let me be your salty dog.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Richie
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 03:54 PM

Here's an interesting bit about the Morris brothers, who claimed to write the song:

This song was first performed by the Morris Brothers. It was written by Zeke in 1935, and arranged by him and his brother, Wiley. "Salty Dog" seems to have a number of meanings. Wiley's interpretation probably makes the most sense - "I have a different definition of a salty dog than Zeke has. Back when we were kids down in Old Fort we would see a girl we liked and say 'I'd like to be her salty dog.' There also used to be a drink you could get up in Michigan. All you had to do was say 'Let me have a Salty Dog,' and they'd pour you one."

Zeke said of the origins of the song, "I got the idea when we went to a little old honky tonk just outside of Canton which is in North Carolina. We went to play at a school out beyond Waynesville somewhere and we stopped at this place. They sold beer and had slot machines. At that time they were legal in North Carolina. We got in there after the show and got to drinking that beer and playing the slot machines with nickels, dimes and quarters. I think we hit three or four jackpots. Boy, here it would come! You know you had a pile of money when you had two handfuls of change. The name of that place was the 'Salty Dog,' and that's where I got the idea for the song. There's actually more verses to it than me and Wiley sing, a lot more verses."

"Salty Dog" was the most popular number the Morris Brothers ever recorded. According to Wiley, "It's considered a standard. Everybody uses it in the bluegrass field, just about. We're making more money off it now on copyright royalties than we ever did on our record, with other people using it. I reckon that song is known all over the world. When I get my statement every six months, it's being played in every nation under the sun. That song is even popular in Japan! 'Salty Dog' aint one that's gone up to high heaven and then fell completely down. It's just one that's considered a standard. It's our biggest song 'cause it's a good five string banjo number played bluegrass style."

Richie


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 05:50 PM

I first heard this song in 1953, from a highschool roommate of blessed memory. He explained that it meant "Let me screw you". No further details.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 06:20 PM

I just recalled that I once saw a dixieland jazz band do somewhat altered version of this song in a Sacramento jazz fesival.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: fumblefingers
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 09:47 PM

The singer is merely saying: "Let me be your man." A rough and rowdy rounder perhaps, but that's all.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:35 PM

Another song title/lyric using the term "salty":

Poppa Ain't Salty No More

Kinda muddies the water (in terms of what that term means), doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: meself
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:55 PM

Maybe Poppa decided to go to sea no more ... and got religion ...


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 07:04 PM

The song predates bluegrass by more than a decade. It's a African-American blues party tune.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: GUEST,Ted
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 08:01 PM

I saw a folk duo perform a song of this name back in my school in 1978 or so. In England. They were very clear that "salty dog" was a sexual innuendo.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: meself
Date: 08 Jan 20 - 09:21 PM

Any reason to think they knew any better than the rest of us?


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 11:49 AM

I'd think the writers' own statement (upthread) of what they were thinking should settle it.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: rich-joy
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 06:53 PM

Apparently Zeke Morris's claims of writing the song in 1935 were the usual copyright = financial rewards thing. There are earlier recordings and the song is known from black musicians from at least the early 1900s......


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: cnd
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 12:02 AM

I admit to having not read the whole thread, but I've always heard that "salty dog" is an expression coming from salting a dog to keep fleas and bugs off his fur. Since this took some effort and cost some money, you'd only salt your best/favorite dog, and so your "salty dog" was basically your best friend. That's why they say "let me be your salty dog or I won't be your man at all"


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: meself
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 12:39 AM

cnd: Is 'salty dog' a term you've heard used outside the context of this song, then?


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: cnd
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 01:03 AM

No, no, just as an explanation of the name, the term formerly being used but not in many years


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 04:26 AM

The idea that there is one single meaning, unchanging through time, and somehow crouching in the terms of any folk or trad blues song waiting to be uncovered by those who can crack the code is arguably naïve. Yes, you can draw on your knowledge of contemporary culture and on the accounts of particular singers and their thoughts when they sang it. You can form a theory on that basis. Interesting to do. But who is to say one singer speaks for all the rest? I'm partly with UK folklorist David Atkinson, who discusses this sort of point in connection with ballads on this, on this sort of thing. His work is worth looking up. As this thread shows, lyrics are open to interpretations.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 09:49 AM

> "the song is known from black musicians from at least the early 1900s."

Evidence?


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 10:26 AM

There's a 1924 Papa Charlie Jackson version on Spotify. The version I know is Mississippi John Hurt, though I have heard folk do their own versions live too. Wikipedia quotes Jan Obrecht's book on Jackson as a source for the idea that versions circulated in New Orleans prior to the release of Jackson's '24 version.

Both Hurt's version and Jackson's one both have a tinge of ragtime. Jackson is good on the banjo. I think this chord sequence crops up quite a bit in early guitar ragtime?

Penguin Dictionary of Historical slang gives one meaning of 'salt' as copulate for the verb and also shows its use as a noun, related meaning.
It doesn't list a related historical use as an adjective, but the link seems obvious.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 08:43 PM

Pseud, the dictionary you cite covers British, not U.S. slang.

If the question is, "What does 'salty dog' mean in the Morris Bros. song?" I stick to my previous assertion: they've told us what they meant.

Obviously *no* ordinary word must have an essential meaning then, now, and forever.

Historically the term has had various meanings, none of them terrifically well known. Here are examples from primary sources that have nothing to do with the song. If all the meanings have anything in common, it seems to be an underlying idea that a "salty dog" is somebody or something that is special or otherwise remarkable.

The meaning "a sailor" (1914) seems to be a humorous extension.


J. F. Dobie, ed. Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder (Austin: Texas Folklore Society, 1927) 163 (written 1892):
My baby's a salty dog,/ My baby's a dandy,/ My baby's a vinegar pup,/ My baby's the candy.

Dallas Morning News (Apr. 13, 1906) 6:
Muskogee is a progressive city, It has taken to navigation early, and the siren shriek of the "Salty Dog" may be heard at any time bearing down the river with a party of gay and happy excursionists.

New Iberia [La.] Enterprise (July 28), 1906) 3:
SHERIFF'S SALE...FOR CASH....a certain gasoline engine boat named the Salty Dog.

Denver Star (July 18, 1914) 8:
Oh, Peaches and cream, you salty-dog. I am going to that Sunflower Dance at Fern Hall, Monday, July 20.

Fuel Oil Journal (December, 1914) 44:
THE TANK STRAPPER GEORGE SPEARY IS NOW A REGULAR SALTY DOG. John Tucker of the National Supply tells us that George Speary is now a regular navigator, having completed a full course in nautical science.

Bismarck Daily Tribune (July 20, 1916) 4:
Eagle Pass, Tex.--At "Dinty Moore's" they serve a brand new drink - the "salty dog"....It's a lime squashed in carbonated water, and served unsweetened with a cellar of salt.

Denver Post (Apr. 14, 1917) 5:
Jack Benton, better known to his friends as "Salty Dog," is now the popular cook at the Night and Day Cafe.

Charlotte Sunday Observer (Oct. 15, 1922) 8:
George Williams, alias "Salty Dog."

Journal of the House of the State of Missouri, Vol. 1) (1945) 372: Mr. Dent introduced S/Sgt. Jack ("Salty Dog") Welch to the House of Representatives.


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: meself
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 08:47 PM

What the hell is a "vinegar pup"?


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 09:00 PM

A "salty dog." Get it?

Nineteenth-century humor. Ya can't beat it with a stick....


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 13 Jan 20 - 04:39 PM

Or maybe it, salty dog, morphed from salted cod, a slave staple, and stiff as a board.

bacalhau: stick, staff- https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/bacalhau


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: cnd
Date: 17 Jan 20 - 05:03 PM

Ironically, I just reading the liner notes of a Benny Martin album (CMH 9006), which wrote:

"SALTY DOG" is one of many songs strongly influenced by Negro blues. It was a very popular recording in 1930 by the Allen Brothers, and again in the 1940s by the Morris Brothers before the 1951 recording by Flatt & Scruggs (with Benny Sims playing the fiddle).


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Subject: RE: What the hell is a 'salty dog'?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jan 20 - 02:06 AM

Lighter 12 Jan 20 - 08:43 PM
...it seems to be an underlying idea that a "salty dog" is somebody or something that is special or otherwise remarkable...

Salt cod & Slavery

"A pound of salted fish or meat was doled out on Sundays to augment the barely survivable diet of the Caribbean plantation slave"

The innuendo seems pretty similar to Salty Dog in this song.

Portuguese Cod
Quim Barreiros


CHORUS: I want to smell your cod Maria 
I want to smell your cod 
Mariazinha let me go to the kitchen, let me go to the kitchen 
P'ra smell your cod

I-Your codfish is really beautiful 
You are the Portuguese with your special dish 
If the smell is good, the tastiest is the stew 
It is the favorite dish of the people of Portugal

II-Your soaked cod 
Tell me if it's from Norway or here from Portugal 
Mariazinha let me smell 
What a delicious thing, I never smelled anything like it - oh

https://youtu.be/Gs-DM-d2xDY

The whole salted cod history is quite interesting, on a whole, it was sorta like the 18th Century's version of canned tuna.


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