"Sissy Man Blues" is a very interesting song and has its place in gay music history,
with its famous line, "Lord, if you can't send me no woman, please send me some sissy man."

There were four recorded versions that I know of, and was probably written by Kokomo Arnold,
with his rendition being recorded in January of 1935. Versions by Josh White (then recording
under the name Pinewood Tom) and George Noble also were released that year. Connie McLean's Rhythm Boys released their version in 1936, interesting enough, also on the label of the original version, Decca. Click on the notes to hear each one.

Kokomo Arnold, Decca 7050, 1/15/35 Listen to Kokomo Arnold
Josh White (Pinewood Tom), Romeo 5456, 1935; also on Melotone 13371 Listen to Pinewood Tom
George Noble, Vocalion 2923, 1935 Listen to George Noble
Connie McLean's Rhythm Kings, Decca 7146, 4/24/36 Listen to George Noble

  Kokomo Arnold

Pinewood Tom's "Sissy Man"     

Above, Pinewood Tom's version is often listed as "Sissy Man," and he's shown below,
with two later albums, as Josh White. The Live one is from 1962.

Pinewood Tom       

Below, Eubie Blake (at piano) with George Noble

George Noble

Below, rare photo of Connie McLean & Rhythm Boys

"Sissy Man Blues" Lyrics
Note the subtle differences in the lyrics.

Kokomo Arnold

I believe, I believe I'll  go back home.
I believe, I believe I'll  go back home.
Only to acknowledge to my good gal, mama, lord, and I have
done you wrong.

Now, I'm gonna ring up China, yeah, man, see if I find my good gal over there.
(Ride it, Kokomo, ride it.)
I'm gonna ring up China, see can I flnd my good gal over there.
Says the Good Book tella me that I got a good gal in this world somewhere.

Hollerin' the church bells is tonin', yeah, man, on one Sunday mornin'.
(Boys, that's old Kokomo.)
Hollerin' the church bell is tonin' on one Sunday mornin'.
Hollerin' some old dirty deacon come and rung that bell,
stole my gal and gone.
(Play it, Kokomo.)

Lord, I woke up this mornin' with my pork grlndin' business in my hand.
Says I woke up this morning with my pork grlndin' business in my hand.
Lord, if you can't send me no woman, please send me some slssy man.

I'm gonna slng these blues, mama, yeah, man, and I'm gonna lay 'em upon your shelf.
Now, I'm gonna slng these blues, mama, and I'm gonna lay 'em upon your shelf.
Lord, lf you wanna hear these blues again, mama, well you sure gonna sing them yourself.
(Now, play It, Mr Koke.)

Pinewood Tom

I believe, I believe I'll go back home.
I believe, I believe I'll go back home.
And acknowledge to my good gal, mama, Lord, I know I've done done you wrong.

I'm gonna ring up China, lay it, Jack, lay it, find my good gal over there.
I'm gonna ring up China, find my good gal over there.
Cause the Good Book tells me I've got a woman in this world somewhere.

Oh, church bell is tonin' one Sunday morn.
I said, some dirty deacon rung that bell, stole my good gal and gone.
I says, please, please send my good gal home.
'Cause I ain't had no lovin', Lord, since my gal's been gone.

Says, I woke up this mornin' with my pork kinda business in my hand.   (Yeah.)
I woke up this morning, pork kinda business in my hand.
Lord, if you can't send me no woman, please send me some sissy man.

I'm gonna sing these blues, I'm gonna lay 'em upon your shelf.
Sing these blues, lay 'em upon your shelf.
Before you gonna hear these blues again, baby, sure gonna sing 'em yourself.

George Noble

I believe, I believe I'll go back home.
I believe, I believe I'll go back home.
Acknowledge to my good gal, I have done you no wrong.
 
I'm gonna ring up China, thinkin' about my good gal over there.
I'm goin' to ring up China, see if I can't find my good gal over there.
The Good Book tells me I got a good gal in this world somewhere.
 
Hollerin', church bells on one Sunday mornin'.
Hollerin’, church bells on one Sunday mornin'.
Some dirty deacon come and stole my good gal and gone.

I woke üp this mornin' with my pork grind all in my hand.
Woke up this mornin' with my pork grind all in my hand.
If you can't send me no woman, please send me some sissy man.
I'm going to sing these blues, mama, I'm gonna lay them upon your shelf.
 
I'm gonna sing these blues, mama, I'm goin' to lay them upon your shelf.
You're goin' to hear these blues again, mama, you sure going to sing them yourself.

Connie McLean's Rhythm Boys

I'm going up to daisy chain, to see if I can find my good gal over there
I'm going up to daisy chain, to see if I can find my good gal over there
Because the good book told me I got a good gal somewhere

I heard the church bells ringing at eight this morning
I heard the church bells ringing at eight this morning
I bet some old dirty deacon stole my good gal and gone

I woke up this morning with my troubles in my hand
I woke up this morning with my business in my hand
If you can't bring me a woman (eee-ah), bring me a sissy man


*there are instrumental breaks between the three verses, and the lyrics and arrangement are so different it almost seems like a different song....and, "daisy chain"?

 

 

Where to find these recordings? Well, I first found a couple versions
on the 1979 album below, and also on the 1991 cassette tape

Straight and Gay     Sissy Man Blues

But now thye both can be found combined on the CD released in 1996

Sissy Man Blues     Sissy Man Blues

Note: this CD lists "Sissy Man Blues" by Connie McLean's Rhythm Boys" but it is actually
Kokomo Arnold's recording, as it's identical. The McLean song can be found on the
compilation below left, and there are many other recordings that contain these songs.

    

Surprise, here's a modern version I've found of "Sissy Man Blues."
It's by the band Swampcandy, on their 2007 CD "The Dirty Suite."
Their rendition uses the Kokomo Arnold lyrics.

   

Swamp Candy- Sissy Man Blues Listen to Ma Rainey

And, another recent cover of the song, by King TuffNStuff, 2012

King TuffNStuff - Sissy Man Blues Listen to Ma Rainey

The Vinyl Closet

I love the idea and genesis of this act. UK historians Ted Brown and Brett Lock began
by giving lectures on gay and lesbian blues music, and singing a little to give examples.
There soon was a demand for them to record the music, and Vinyl Closet went from being
the name of an evening of entertainment to the name of their act, and I love that they did this.
The CD is named "Pink, Black & Blues" and it included a version of "Sissy Man Blues,"
and a disc full of other great old blues covers; it's a joy.


Click to Hear It
Website

 

 

 

Well, I might as well also present Ma Rainey's song "Sissy Blues."
As you can see by the lyrics, it's her man who was in bed with a sissy,
and the sissy satisfied him more. Click the note to hear all about it.

Ma Rainey, Paramount 12384, August 1926 Listen to Ma Rainey

   Ma Rainey     

Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey

"Sissy Blues"

I came in last night
I'm going home tonight, I won't no more

"Hello, Central, it's 'bout to run me wild
Can I get that number, or will I have to wait a while?"

I dreamed last night I was far from harm
Woke up and found my man in a sissy's arms

"Hello, Central, it's 'bout to run me wild
Can I get that number, or will I have to wait a while?"

Some are young, some are old
My man says sissy's got good jelly roll

My man got a sissy, his name is Miss Kate
He shook that thing like jelly on a plate

"Hello, Central, it's 'bout to run me wild
Can I get that number, or will I have to wait a while?"

Now all the people ask me why I'm all alone
A sissy shook that thing and took my man from me

Ma Rainey (1886 - 1939) was known as the
Mother of the Blues, and a quick google
search will find you many references on her

and, here's a link to a very interesting article on gays & lesbians in the
jazz/blues culture, by Eric Garber...click the title.

A Spectacle in Color: The Lesbian and Gay Subculture of Jazz Age Harlem.

Also check out my special QMH shows
Queer Blues, Oct 2007
and
Obscure Queer Blues, Nov 2014