Breedloves's Folk Songs


“Ain’t Nobody’s Business” is a blues standard, an eight-bar blues written in the 1920s by
pianist Peter Grainger , who had been Bessie Smith’s accompanist, and Everett Robbins.
Alberta Hunter was the first to record the song in February of 1923, the theme of which is
that what goes on between a romantic couple is their business and no one else’s. The song
has been recorded by numerous artists, including Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Dinah
Washington. In some versions, the theme of violence against women is made explicit. For
example, Dinah Washington specifically identifies her then-husband bandleader Eddie
Chamblie in her version, “If me and Eddie fuss and fight . . .” and goes on to add the
If I should get beat up by my poppa
That don’t mean you should call no copper
Cause it ain’t nobody’s business if we do
The biggest hit on the number came with Jimmy Witherspoon’s version in 1949, with the
blues shouter booming out the opening line:
One day, we got ham and bacon
Next day, ain’t nothing shakin’
But it ain’t nobody’s business if we do
The song was a career cornerstone for Witherspoon, but he received only limited royalties
from his record company. Witherspoon later ruefully argued that losing those royalties
was the price he paid for a long show business career.
There ain’t nothing I can do, or nothing I can say,
Some folks will criticize me.
So I’m gonna do just what I want to anyway,
And don’t care if you all despise me.
If I should take a notion
To jump into the ocean,
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.
If I go to church on Sunday
And I shimmy down on Monday,
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.
And if my friend ain’t got no money
And I say, “All right, take all of mine honey,”
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.
If I lend her my last nickel
And it leaves me in a pickle,
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.


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