Song Lyric Sunday: Americana

The prompt for Song Lyric Sunday from Jim Adams is American Music, which is any song played by an American group or artist.


Robert Johnson was an American-born blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter who allegedly sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for musical success.

If this is true, the devil had the last laugh because Johnson spent most of his career as an itinerant musician. He only gained the recognition he deserved some twenty years after his death.

A master of the Delta Blues, Johnson only recorded 29 songs before he died in 1938, at 27. Some claim he was murdered, and others maintain he died because of illness. Even the whereabouts of his grave is a mystery.

His music is introspective, soulful and passionate, but my choice for today is They’re Red Hot, a song that is a departure from his usual style.

The music historian Ted Gioia describes it as:

The most light-hearted interlude in all of Johnson’s oeuvre, opening up a different perspective on this supposedly devil-haunted soul.

This is one of my favourite stress-busting songs. I crank up the volume, sing along, and dance around the room like a crazy person. Bliss!

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
I got a girl, say she long and tall
She sleeps in the kitchen with her feets in the hall
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
She got two for a nickel, got four for a dime
Would sell you more, but they ain’t none of mine
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale, yes, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
I got a letter from a girl in the room
Now she got something good she got to bring home soon, now
It’s hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got em for sale (they’re too hot boy)
The billy got back in a bumble bee nest
Ever since that he can’t take his rest, yeah
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes you got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Man don’t mess around em hot tamales now ’cause they too black bad,
If you mess around ’em hot tamales
I’m gonna upset your backbone, put your kidneys to sleep
I’ll due to break away your liver and dare your heart to beat ’bout my
Hot tamales ’cause they red hot, yes they got em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
You know grandma loves them and grandpa too
Well I wonder what in the world we children gonna do now
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Me and my babe bought a V-8 Ford
Well we wind that thing all on the runnin’ board, yes
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale (they’re too hot boy!)
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes, now she got em for sale
You know the monkey, now the baboon playin’ in the grass
Well the monkey stuck his finger in that old ‘Good Gulf Gas’, now
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
I got a girl, say she long and tall
Sleeps in the kitchen with her feets in the hall, yes
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Songwriter(s): Robert Johnson
© Concord Music Publishing LLC

PS I suspect the hot tamales the lady has for sale is one enormous euphemism…

3 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Americana

  1. The devil might be laughing, but Robert Johnson didn’t sell his soul for fame, he sold it for guitar skill. Great song Ella and I love that line, “She sleeps in the kitchen with her feets in the hall” and I have no idea where that monkey stuck his finger.

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