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Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?

MGM·Lion 16 Jun 13 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Corporal Colin 17 Jun 13 - 12:42 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jun 13 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Corporal Colin 17 Jun 13 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 17 Jun 13 - 02:01 PM
Art Thieme 17 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jun 13 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 18 Jun 13 - 11:05 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Jun 13 - 11:23 AM
Noreen 18 Jun 13 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 19 Jun 13 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 19 Jun 13 - 06:17 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Jun 13 - 06:27 AM
Leadbelly 02 Jul 13 - 12:39 PM
Leadbelly 02 Jul 13 - 02:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Jul 13 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler 04 Jul 13 - 04:07 AM
BroadBottomSheik 04 Jul 13 - 09:31 PM
katlaughing 04 Jul 13 - 11:46 PM
Gibb Sahib 05 Jul 13 - 12:55 AM
GUEST,Pete Taylor 17 Jul 13 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,thriftylefty 05 Mar 15 - 01:37 PM
ripov 05 Mar 15 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 06 Mar 15 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Fred Edwords 30 Jan 17 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Fred Edwords 30 Jan 17 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,drWord 30 Jan 17 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Neil Lipes 17 Jun 17 - 09:19 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 02:08 PM

In that familiar song by Tampa Red, most notably performed by Leadbelly, and reworked by Clutch, what does the title, Tight Like That, actually mean? It is presumably idiomatic, and probably euphemistic, for something or other; most probably with some sort of sexual referent. But I can't find any precise definition or interpretation which would relate it in any way to the various somewhat surreal AFAICS situations and dilemmas rubricated in the various stanzas, and all stated in the chorus to be "Tight Like That". Tight Like WHAT, precisely? And "tight" in what sense.

Does the phrase appear in any other context that anyone knows? I couldn't find it by googling any dictionary of idioms, or any other examples of its use in any dictionary of quotations.

It comes over to me as not a million miles from a nonsense verse without even any internal rationale.

Anybody help?

~M~

Sorry if any previous threads on this - ie the meaning, not just the lyrics. I tried but couldn't locate one.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Corporal Colin
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 12:42 PM

I think it just means "tough" ie it's tight like that = it's tough that way. The verses are little couplets of woe to which that phrase, used as the chorus, would be apt.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 12:54 PM

Well, I have always taken that to be the implication from context & tone, Corporal. (And thank you for the response). But can you think of any other instances of 'tight' being used in quite that way, to mean something like 'difficult to tolerate or come to terms with', which is what 'tough' would imply, used in that way? I can't recall a single one. So why, suddenly, did Tampa Red come up with such a usage? And why, SFAIK, has nobody queried it before, in all these years?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Corporal Colin
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 01:24 PM

I agree, it seems to be an intriguing one-off. Perhaps it was fashionable local slang for a short period that quickly went out of vogue.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 02:01 PM

Have a look in Stephen Calt's book "Barrelhouse Words" (University of Illinois Press, 2009, p.247 for Tampa Red's explanation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM

It simply feels better tighter than looser.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 02:39 PM

Many thanks, Mike. Might not be too easy to access a copy too soon - just looked, & Amazon prices rather steep* for a book I should probably only use this once as I am not really a blues man. But glad to learn that T Red did see fit to explain it; so presumably someone must have asked the question before me, now. Did the late great Stephen Calt actually ask him, or go to other sources. I see the subtitle of Barrelhouse Words is A Blues Dialect Dictionary.

Any chance of any sort of summary?

Best Regards

Michael~

*Drift: the pb is £9.30 new, £12.40 used. One often finds this anomaly on Amazon. Anyone know why?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 11:05 AM

This is the reference in Calt. (Sorry, but it was Georgia Tom, and not Tampa Red, who gave the following.)Henry Hill was, according to Calt, an "avid consumer of Race Records" and was inteviewed by Calt. The quote to "O'Neal and van Singel" refers to Jim O'Neal & Amy van Singel "The Voice of the Blues: Classic Interviews from Living Blues Magazine". London, Routledge, 2001. Here is the entry:

It's tight like that, beedle um bum
Don't you hear me talkin' to you,
Know it's tight like that.
- Tampa Red & Georgia Tom, "Tight Like That", 1928.

A Chicago superlative recounted by Tom Dorsey ("Georgia Tom"), who helped parlay it into a best selling rece record. "there used to be a phrase they used around town, you know, folks started saying, "Ah, it's tight like that! Tight like that!" (O'Neal & van Singel). Although the term had no express sexual connotations, it would be misconstrued as a reference to "tight pussy" by record consumers such as Henry Hill, probably on the basis of the adjacent phrase "beedle um bum". This sense is only evident in the following example, remarking on infidelity:

Now Lucy came home, with a big excuse
She left here tight, but she come back loose.
- Blind Ben Covington, "It's a Fight (sic) Like That", 1928.

Michael, if you are wondering why the phrase "beedle um bum" should make Henry Hill think of sex, then here is Calt's entry for "Beedle um bum":

Oh, my beedle um bum
Come and see me if you ain't had none
It makes a dumb man speak, makes a lame man run
You'll miss something if you don't get none
- The Hokum Boys, "Beedle Um Bum", 1928.

A slang term for "pussy" current among female partygoers in Chicago during the 1920's (Tom Dorsey). It seems to have arisen from "Beedle Um Bo", a l908 ragtime piano composition by Chales L. Johnson that probably bore no sexual connotation.

Michael, you mention that you are not particularly interested in the blues, but if, as I suspect, you are interested in the English language, then you will find Calt's book of interest. I know that I do.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 11:23 AM

Mike ~~ Many thanks for all your trouble in that reply.

So there was indeed, it appears, a short-lived idiomatic phrase in certain circles; and one of the original users saw fit to explain its provenance & use. So Calt was citing those other researchers O'Neal & van Singel who had published a book of interviews from Living Blues magazine, as well as interviewing Henry Hill himself. I am very glad of the clarification as to the use of the phrase itself, and who appeared originally to use it in the song that came to us via Leadbelly. Would he (Leadbelly), I wonder, have known the origin and all the connotations of the phrase.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: Noreen
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 08:16 PM

Maybe irrelevant to this discussion, but 'that's tight' when I was growing up in Liverpool, meant something was unfair, mean, rotten, just not right- which seems similar to the meaning above.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 05:37 AM

According to Eric Partridge, the term "tight" meaning "hard, severe, difficult" can be traced back to at least 1764 in English usage.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 06:17 AM

This discussion reminds me of a conversation I was once having with Memphis Slim when he defined happiness as being "loose shoes and a tight pussy".

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 06:27 AM

Thanks, Mike. How could I have neglected to look at Partridge!, which I have literally always within reach of my working chair. Tho he does, on checking, show it as obsolete in this meaning, except in certain phrases like 'tight corner', tight squeeze', all US usages [tho his original quote was English, from Foote] after about the 1850s. So still a bit of a mystery where Huddy L will have got it from, perhaps?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: Leadbelly
Date: 02 Jul 13 - 12:39 PM

Please allow a marginal note:
Don't know for sure about a bad connotation of this phrase, but if so this did not prevent Tampa Reds piano player Georgia Tom (Thomas Andrew Dorsey) from becoming music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago 4 years after they recorded Tight like that. Moreover, from there on he created his image as Father of black gospel music.

Funny.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: Leadbelly
Date: 02 Jul 13 - 02:10 PM

Last but not least a categorisation by Azizi Powell (taken from pancocojams.blogspot.de)

THE MEANING OF "IT'S TIGHT LIKE THAT"
The phrase "it's tight like that" in Thomas A. Dorsey's (Georgia Tom) & "Tampa Red" Whittaker's late 1920s song of that name and other versions of that song have definite sexual connotations. However, there's plausible deniability that no sexualized meaning at all are intended by that title or those verses. For instance, "it's tight like that" could be said to mean something like "That's the way it is" ("It bes that way some time.). Or "It's tight like that" could be said to mean "Times are bad." (as in "Money is tight"). While the first "clean" meaning I suggested might be the meaning of some of the lyrics in versions of "It's Tight Like That", I'm not sure that the second "clean" meaning was ever intended in any of those song's verses. There's no a doubt in my mind that, with the exception of Leadbelly's version, most of the lyrics of the "It's Tight Like That" song are meant to be risque. It bes that way sometime.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jul 13 - 11:35 AM

Tight-assed is another American usage, meaning adhering strictly to the rules, unforgiving, etc.

Tight meaning difficult was not uncommon, in my experience (US southwest and south).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler
Date: 04 Jul 13 - 04:07 AM

Louis Armstrong also recorded it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: BroadBottomSheik
Date: 04 Jul 13 - 09:31 PM

In 1930 the Memphis Jug Band used a lyric "She's not too thin, not too fat but everything about her is tight like that" in the song Everybody's Talking About Sadie Green. I take it to mean just right or double entendre for sexually just right particularly in Tampa Red's versions of It's Tight Like that numbers 1,2 and 3.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Jul 13 - 11:46 PM

completely from another planet, my dad used it when showing me proper cinching of our saddle and other rope that needed tying. we've always used "tight."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 12:55 AM

I might be stating the obvious, but nowadays in American slang "tight" (except in reference to economics like "times are tight") means exceedingly great and awesome, man!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPfxMIhEUrQ


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Pete Taylor
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 06:40 AM

Ascribing one meaning to the phrase is almost certainly impossible - as with many phrases in the English language. Even in the same song it can, and was probably intend to have two (or more meanings) at the same time. Eg Charlie Spand's "She's got good stuff." (c 1930)
"Comes a tripping down the street like a Maltese cat
She's got good stuff and it's tight like that."
I think the song is all about drugs, but at the same time much of it could and probably was about sex.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,thriftylefty
Date: 05 Mar 15 - 01:37 PM

The term "tight" is still used in the African American community sometimes to refer to something that is cool


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: ripov
Date: 05 Mar 15 - 02:02 PM

The phrase "that was a bit tight" meaning unfair or excessive is in common use (vide Noreen) in UK Midlands and South.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Mar 15 - 07:41 AM

Tight also meant unfair or mean in Salford in the 1950's and 60's.

"Jimmy's nicked all me merps!"

"He's tight like that"

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Fred Edwords
Date: 30 Jan 17 - 06:21 PM

In country & western usage, "getting tight" means getting drunk. But such a meaning doesn't seem to fit any version of the song "Tight Like That."

As for Louis Armstrong's December 1928 version, called "Tight Like This," he doesn't sing enough in the way of lyrics to make the words anything more than a jazz expression of no particular meaning.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Fred Edwords
Date: 30 Jan 17 - 06:57 PM

Then again, Pete Taylor's point that the expression can have different meanings in the same song seems to be borne out in Tampa Red's 1929 version, where some verses seem sexual, some seem to talk about hard times or bad luck, but this verse may actually mean getting drunk.

Say you got a dollar, I got a dime.
Let's go down the alley and buy some wine.
tight like that, reedipbeedo
Oh, doo doo doo doo
Baby but it's good.
Honey and it's tight like that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,drWord
Date: 30 Jan 17 - 07:11 PM

Yet another: "Billy and me are tight, man."
= we've got one another's backs; we're close. [citation needed]
alternative fact {?}, not applicable to the song ... but I absolutely agree that double-entendre|end run around would-be censors is implicit, as in so much classic blues.

keep pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Tight Like That - meaning?
From: GUEST,Neil Lipes
Date: 17 Jun 17 - 09:19 AM

It has long been established that the "tight" refers to the tightness of a woman's vagina, although some old jazz men claimed it was a woman's anus .......back in the day any hint of sexuality had to be cleverly hidden within the lyrics.......especially with "race" records.

Best version of this tune has to be by Mckinney Cotton Pickers!!


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