Language of the Blues with Debra Devi “Dust My Broom”

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How many of us really know what the words to our favorite songs actually mean? Well, when it comes to Blues songs, Debra Devi does. She wrote the book Language of the Blues. So I asked her what she thought was the coolest definition she learned. It’s no surprise it had to do with Robert Johnson…

Elmore James

Elmore James

Well one of the ones that was really interesting to me was dust my broom actually because when I dug into that I found some interesting stuff. I mean dust my broom basically means you’re leaving and in fact that’s what Robert Junior Lockwood told me when I interviewed him cause you know he as a as a boy lived with Robert Johnson cause his mother was Robert Johnson’s girlfriend and they lived together as a family for about seven years. And I asked him, he said dust my broom that just, that meant he was leaving, he was outta there. But when you look at hoodoo rituals, you see brooms a lot in hoodoo stories and you see powder and there’s something called Rittens powder that put on the broom and then you sweep your house. And it can get rid of bad spirits, it can get rid of bad people, so that gives a little more depth to this whole I’m gonna dust my broom thing. And then if you look even deeper um there’s an African west African god of moral retribution who carries a whisk broom and its very interesting because he carries um sesame seeds and tosses em on the ground and then uses the whisk broom to stir up a cloud and on that cloud is carried smallpox. So if he really wants to if he really thinks someone has done wrong he’ll do that you know so as you as you dig a little deeper you go ah okay there’s a lot of broom and dust and you know. So that that’s that was a fun one.