They're Red Hot

Album: King Of The Delta Blues (1935)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about hot tamales... at least on the surface. It could be a metaphor for sex, with the "long and tall" girl who's got 'em for sale being a working girl.

    Tamales are a spicy Mexican food very popular in some parts of the American south, where they are often sold by roadsides. They contain spicy mean wrapped in cornmeal.
  • While Johnson is a legendary blues artist, this song is an example of hokum music, which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and is generally played at a faster pace than blues, similar to ragtime.
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers covered this on their 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The Peppers recorded their version on a hill at 2 in the morning - if you listen closely you can hear cars go by. Their drummer Chad Smith copied John Bonham's technique that he used in the Led Zeppelin song "Moby Dick" of drumming without drumsticks. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bert - Pueblo, NM

Comments: 6

  • Timothy from Lockport, NyActually they found another RJ song in Buddy Holly's guitar case lining.
  • Davíd from Woburn, MaI recently purchased the complete Robert Johnson, and I was really suprised as to how many popular 60s and 70s blues songs were actually written by him. And am I the only one disappointed that this is the only song here by Mr. J?
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InVery weird that the one song that Robert Johnson recorded that was not a blues piece was this hokum song, and that this is the one RJ song listed on SongFacts.
    One would have expected at least ONE of his masterpieces, such as "Come On In My Kitchen," "Cross Road Blues," "Walkin' Blues," "Hell Hound On My Trail," "Preachin' Blues," or "Love In Vain."
  • Chase from Miami, FlRobert Johnson rocks and by the way Mark of Byrdstown, Eric Clapton Can't play like him because each guitarist is unique. Eri Clapton is still awesome though
  • Wayne from Petersburg, VaI totally agree with mark, people dont realize in the covers of his songs who even wrote it. There isnt a person i have heard yet that has put as much emotion into his songs as him.
  • Mark from Byrdstown, TnOn the surface it would seem a song about tamales but like many blues songs its most likely a well hidden reference to sex.Robert Johnson only recorded 29 songs but copycats all down thru the ages ,including Eric Clapton,have been trying to capture that old rough unpolished greatness that Johnson showed on this song and the others.None have even come close.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."

Jack Tempchin - "Peaceful Easy Feeling"

Jack Tempchin - "Peaceful Easy Feeling"They're Playing My Song

When a waitress wouldn't take him home, Jack wrote what would become one of the Eagles most enduring hits.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Gary Lewis

Gary LewisSongwriter Interviews

Gary Lewis and the Playboys had seven Top 10 hits despite competition from The Beatles. Gary talks about the hits, his famous father, and getting drafted.

Intentionally Atrocious

Intentionally AtrociousSong Writing

A selection of songs made to be terrible - some clearly achieved that goal.

Tom Keifer of Cinderella

Tom Keifer of CinderellaSongwriter Interviews

Tom talks about the evolution of Cinderella's songs through their first three albums, and how he writes as a solo artist.