Language of the Blues: Saltwater

Originally posted on American Blues Scene

Tis the latest installment of our weekly series The Language of the Blues, in which author and rock musician Debra Devi explores the meaning of a word or phrase found in the blues.

Grab a signed copy of Devi’s entertaining & award-winning glossary The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu (Foreword by Dr. John) at Also available as an eBook.

Revenue men destroying alcohol

Revenue men destroying alcohol

is slang for alcohol. It shows up in the Charlie Patton song “Revenue Man Blues”:

My doney loves saltwater, she always wants a drink

If they see you with a bottle, they’ll almost break your neck

The “they” to which Charlie Patton was referring were the “Revenue Men” — feared Treasury Department agents known for their brutality who hunted down moonshiners during Prohibition.

“Revenue Man Blues”- Charlie Patton

Charlie Patton – “Revenue Man Blues”

Pick up a signed copy of The Language of the Blues today!

Debra Devi

Debra Devi

Debra Devi is the author of the award-winning blues glossary The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu and the singer/guitarist for the rock band DEVI.

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