“I’ve been a bad, bad girl” sang Fiona Apple in her 1997 song CRIMINAL
to which Jennifer Lopez pole danced in the 2019 movie “Hustlers”.
It got me to thinking of other vintage songs that referenced all kinds of ladies of the night
including Cy Coleman & Dorothy Fields’ legendary BIG SPENDER from their 1960’s musical “Sweet Charity”
and of course, Donna Summer’s aptly titled 1979 million-seller BAD GIRLS co-written with her husband Bruce Sudano
along with Eddie Hockenson and Joe ‘Bean’ Esposito.
Over the decades, bad girls have either been the subject of or referenced to in countless compositions.
Bertha ‘Chippie’ Hill recorded STREET WALKER BLUES back in 1926, Ma Rainey sang HUSTLIN’ BLUES
(‘It’s rainin’ out here and tricks ain’t walkin’ tonight’) in 1928 and Lonnie Johnson recorded CROWING ROOSTER BLUES
(‘To let the pimps and ramblers know that the workin’ man is on his way’) also in ’28.
Among those which stood out in the rock era were Lou Reed’s WALK ON THE WILD SIDE,
Freddie Mercury’s KILLER QUEEN, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards’ HONKY TONK WOMEN
(‘She tried to take me upstairs for a ride’), Sting’s ROXANNE (‘Put on the red light’),
Bob Crewe & Kenny Nolan’s LADY MARMALADE (‘Struttin’ her stuff on the street’)
along with The Animals’ revival of the eons-old folk ballad THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN
(‘Spend your lives in sin and misery’).
“There’ve been many other examples over the years
and the following is a selective list of fifteen further songs about hookers and strippers…”
by Mott The Hoople
Pro: Ian Hunter, Dale Griffin & Overend Watts
‘She works the forty second beat on forty second street’
CHARLOTTE THE HARLOT
(Dave Murray) by Iron Maiden
Pro: Will Malone
(Rickie Lee Jones)
by Rickie Lee Jones
Pro: Lenny Waronker & Russ Titelman
(Warner Bros: 1979)
(Bob Daisley/Luther Grosvenor)
Pro: Widowmaker & Chris Kimsey
(Jet/United Artists: 1977)
British hard-rockers Widowmaker included bass player Bob Bob Daisley,
later with the Ozzy Osbourne Band and Uriah Heep.
(Jan Berry/Arnie Ginsburg)
by Jan & Arnie w/Don Ralke’s Music
Pro: Joe Lubin
Based on an old Civil War song,
this celebrated a well-known west coast stripper.
Jan went on to famously record with Dean Torrence as Jan & Dean.
Arwin was a label owned by Doris Day
and her then-husband Marty Melcher.
by Kris Kristofferson
Pro: Fred Foster (
‘Sellin’ them your sadness on the street’
LADIES OF THE NIGHT
(Leon Russell/Kim Fowley)
by Leon Russell
Pro: Leon Russell
by Paul Siebel
Pro: Peter K. Siege
‘A deceiver, don’t believe her, that’s her trade’
The most popular song written by little known
New York-born singer/songwriter Paul Siebel,
it was covered by a number of different artists
including Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt.
Another standout Siebel composition is SPANISH JOHNNY
recorded by both Emmylou Harris and Waylon Jennings.
by Ian Thomas
Pro: Jim Lombardo
Canadian singer/songwriter Ian Thomas also wrote RUNNER,
a 1974 chart hit by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.
PASTIES AND A G-STRING
by Tom Waits
Pro & Sound:
POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME
(Steve Clark/Phil Collen/Joe Elliott/Rick Savage/Robert John Lange)
by Def Leppard
Pro: Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange
‘Lookin’ like a tramp, like a video vamp’
SISTERS OF MERCY
by Leonard Cohen
Pro: John Simon
‘And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night’
From Leonard’s debut LP “Songs Of Leonard Cohen”.
SWEET, FAST HOOKER BLUES
by Buffy Sainte-Marie\
Pro: Norbert Putnam
TRUCK STOP GIRL
(Lowell George/Bill Payne)
by The Byrds
Pro: Terry Melcher & Jim Dickson
Vocal by Clarence White.
Written by the co-founders of Little Feat:
Lowell George and Bill Payne.
THE WHORES OF PARIS
by Bernie Taupin
Pro: Humberto Gatica
The closing track from Bernie’s second solo album “He Who Rides The Tiger”.
And to close out this bulletin,
David Rose’s chart-topping trombone-led burlesque-inspired instrumental…
by David Rose & His Orchestra
Pro: Jesse Kaye
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