American blues and R&B are infamous for countless reasons, subtlety generally not being one of them. Here are some classic examples, many of which have been ripped off by more than a few longhaired rock 'n' rollers. But I won't mention any names (Robert Plant!).
1. Muddy Waters - “Tiger in Your Tank”
The Big Daddy of Chicago Blues, Muddy Waters (born McKinley
Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Miss., in 1913), unleashes the, ah, beast on this stinging, fast-paced blues number. “I wanna put a tiger in your tank!” he sings on the chorus. Man ain’t talkin’ ’bout Exxon, if you know what I mean.
2. "My Ding-A-Ling" - Chuck Berry
After he was a dirty young man, and before he was a dirty old man, rock ’n’ roll pioneer and double-stoppin’ guitar hero Chuck Berry, was a dirty middle-aged man. Here, he leads a live sing-a-long based on Dave Bartholomew’s 1952 song “Little Girl Sing Ding-A-Ling,” which became Berry’s only #1 pop hit as “My Ding-A-Ling.” Here's a hint: It’s really not about his little silver bells. Of course, you can probably ring ’em anytime; just ask ol’ Chuck.
3. "Banana in Your Fruit Basket" - Bo Carter
Ok, so Muddy Waters prefers animals and Bo Carter prefers fresh produce. To each his own.
Favorite non-banana metaphor in the song? "Now, I got the washboard, my baby got the tub / We gonna put 'em together, gonna rub, rub, rub." Check out the complete lyrics
4. "Big Ten-Inch Record" - "Bull Moose" Jackson
OK, big surprise, a guy with the nickname "Bull Moose" wants to brag about the size of his "record." Sorry Moose, we all know it's probably more like a mini-disc. I mean, if ya gotta talk about it, doesn't that mean you're a wee lil' bit insecure? This risqué R&B hit was famously covered by Aerosmith on their 1975 album Toys in the Attic. Same rule applies to Steven Tyler... be suspicious of those who boast!
5. "She Squeezed My Lemon" - Roosevelt Sykes
"Borrowing" is a pretty big part of the blues tradition. As a matter of fact, Robert Johnson seemingly "borrowed" the line "squeeze my lemon, 'til the juice run down my leg" from Sykes for his song "Traveling Riverside Blues," and Sykes seemingly borrowed the lemon metaphor from Joe Williams' "I Want It Awful Bad." So can we really hold it against old Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song" for borrowing the line Robert Johnson had borrowed from Roosevelt Sykes, who'd borrowed it from Joe Williams, who borrowed it from some guy we'll never know? Maybe. But it's still a pretty cool song.