“Hesitation Blues”


"Well, standing on the corner with a dollar in my hand, Lookin' for a woman who's lookin' for a man, Tell me, how long do I have to wait...?" The women want to see the money before they become friendly. The singer grumbles about sex


W. C. Handy produced a song, "The Hesitating Blues" (copyright 1915; see Handy/Silverman-Blues, pp. 100-103) which uses this key line, but it is much more elaborate and with a different plot; I suspect they are separate songs, with one inspiring the other. Though the Brown text shows how mutable such blues can be. - RBW

The Esther Bigeou recording gives the writing credit to Handy; the Sara Martin (note the different title) attributes the song to Billy Smythe & Scott Middletonn. Is it the same song? Are they variants? We need to hear the actual records to sort all this out. - PJS


  • Allen Brothers, "Can I Get You Now" (Vocalion 02890, 1935)
  • Jesse Ashlock w. Bill Boyd & his Cowboy Ramblers, "Must I Hesitate?" (Bluebird B-6351, 1936)
  • Esther Bigeou, "Hesitating Blues" (OKeh 8065, 1923)
  • Milton Brown & his Musical Brownies, "The Hesitation Blues" (Decca 5266, 1936)
  • [Richard] Burnett & [Leonard] Rutherford, "Curly Headed Woman" (Columbia 15240-D, 1928, rec. 1927; on KMM)
  • Sam Collins, "Hesitation Blues" (Gennett 6379, 1927; Champion 15472, 1928; Bell 1173/Supertone 350/Silvertone 5181?, all n.d.; rec. 1927)
  • Walter "Buddy Boy" Hawkins, "Voice Throwing Blues" (Paramount 12802, 1929; on TimesAint01)
  • Jim Jackson, "Hesitation Blues (Oh! Baby, Must I Hesitate?)" (Vocalion 1477, 1930)
  • Sara Martin (& Eva Taylor), "Hesitation Blues" (OKeh 8082, 1923)
  • Wingy Manone & his orchestra, "Hesitation Blues (Oh! Baby Must I Hesitate)" (Bluebird B-6394, 1936)
  • Reaves White County Ramblers, "Hesitation Blues" (Vocalion 5217, 1928)
  • Arthur Smith Trio, "Hesitating Blues" (Bluebird B-8101, 1939)
  • cf. Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "If the River Was Whiskey" (with verses from this song and "Rye Whiskey"; Columbia 15545-D, 1930; on CPoole02)


  1. BrownIII 507, "I Got de Hezotation Stockings and de Hezotation Shoes" (1 short text, with a verse and chorus from "Hesitation Blues" and a verse from "Wanderin'")
  2. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 276-277, (no title) (1 text, beginning "Ships in de ocean, rocks in de sea, Blond-headed woman Mak a fool out of me" but with chorus "Tell me how long I'll have to wait! Oh, tell me, honey, don't hesitate!")
  3. Silber-FSWB, p. 75, "Hesitation Blues" (1 text)
  4. Roud #11765
  5. BI, FSWB075


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1923 (recording, Esther Bigeou)
Keywords: sex whore money
Found in: US(SE)