"Pay one's dues": interdating

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 21 02:01:04 UTC 2010

There is a 1950 Rhythm & Blues record release that uses the title "You
Got To Pay Those Dues", but a quick search does not reveal the lyrics.
Google Books is unsurprisingly filled with older literal uses of
"paying your dues", e.g., people paying union dues and club dues etc,
and the song lyrics may also be non-figurative. But it might be an
earlier interdate for the figurative use.

The B side "Mercenary Papa" is available on YouTube and you can hear
the lyrics for that song. But I cannot find the A side.

Cite: 1950 April 1, Billboard magazine (The Billboard), Advance Rhythm
& Blues Record Releases, Page 113, Nielsen Business Media, Inc.

You Got To Pay Those Dues
  C. Williams Ork (Mercenary Papa) Mer 8168


The Discogs website says:

A You Got To Pay Those Dues       2:55
 Written-By - Williams* , Swain* , Edmundson*

Cootie Williams And His Orchestra - You Got To Pay Those Dues / Mercenary Papa
Label: Mercury Catalog#: 8168 Format: Vinyl, 10", 78 RPM, Single
Country: US Released: 1949 Genre: Blues Style: Vocal

I unfortunately do not have access to HDAS at this moment so I cannot
read the relevant entry.

OED (1989) due, n.
 c. fig. (pl.). Responsibilities or obligations; esp. in phr. to pay
one's dues, to fulfil obligations, undergo hardships, or gain
experience. U.S. slang.

1943 ‘S. G. WOLSEY’ Call House Madam xiv. 403 She was mixed up later
in one of the rottenest shooting messes ever staged in Hollywood, but
she got away with her end of it and never paid her dues.  1961  N.
HENTOFF  Jazz Life (1962) ii. 29 ‘Paying dues’ is the jazz musician's
term for the years of learning and searching for an individual sound
and style while the pay is small and irregular.

On Thu, May 20, 2010 at 8:30 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "Pay one's dues": interdating
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Treasury of jazz
> Eddie Condon, Richard Gehman - _1956_ - 488 pages
> A musician said, laughing, "To know [Charlie Yard]Bird [Parker], you
> got to _pay your dues_ . . ."
> This phrase is plagiarized all over the place over a period of years,
> practically up to the present.
> My memory, for what's worth, is that this phrase originally appeared
> in the 1955 Charlie Parker's Death special issue of Ebony in the form,
> "If you wanted to know Bird, you had to pay your dues."
> GB now has Ebony, but I'm not up to learning how to chase a mag down.
> IAC, HDAS's first cite is so early that there's no glory to be gained
> by backing up yet another interdating by only a single year. :-)
> @Jon: as usual, HDAS is full of surprises. Under _duff3 v._, HDAS has
> "... leave ..." _Duff_ was used with precisely that meaning in the
> Saint Louis BE slang of my lost youth. I never expected ever to see it
> in print under any circumstances, since I had been under the
> impression that it was only a local usage.
> Youneverknow.
> --
> -Wilson
> –––
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> –Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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