32-20 Blues
Robert Johnson Lyrics

If I send for my baby, and she don't come
If I send for my baby, man, and she don't come
All the doctors in Hot Springs sure can't help her none

And if she gets unruly, thinks she don't wan' do
If she gets unruly and thinks she don't wan' do
Take my 32-20, now, and cut her half in two

She got a .38 special but I believe it's most too light
She got a .38 special but I believe it's most too light
I got a 32-20, got to make the caps alright

If I send for my baby, man, and she don't come
If I send for my baby, man, and she don't come
All the doctors in Hot Springs sure can't help her none

I'm gonna shoot my pistol, gonna shoot my gatling gun
I'm gonna shoot my pistol, gotta shoot my gatling gun
You made me love you, now your man have come

Ah-oh, baby, where you stayed last night?
Ah-ah, baby, where you stayed last night?
You got your hair all tangled and you ain't talking right

Her .38 special, boys, it do very well
Her .38 special, boys, it do very well
I got a 32-20 now, and it's a-burning

If I send for my baby, man, and she don't come
If I send for my baby, man, and she don't come
All the doctors in Wisconsin sure can't help her none

Hey, hey, baby, where you stayed last night?
Hey, hey, baby, where you stayed last night?
You didn't come home until the sun was shining bright

Ah-oh boy, I just can't take my rest
Ah-oh boy, I just can't take my rest
With this 32-20 laying up and down my breast

Lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, Peermusic Publishing

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Most interesting comment from YouTube:


If it was a .32-20 rifle it might have been more powerful ft-lb wise than a .38, especially if it was a snub nose. However the lyrics state a pistol. From a pistol barrel, a lighter bullet, with a lower powder charge, would have less energy ft-lb wise than a .38 I believe. Granted, even the smokeless powder of this time wasn't as powerful as modern smokeless powder, and various modern projectile designs, although pure lead can be pretty devastating due to it's tendency to expand to a bigger size than the size of the unfired projectile, kind of like a modern hollow point projectile.

If for some reason the guns in the song were loaded with black powder cartridges, the 20 grains of powder and lighter bullet of the .32-20 would probably be a good bit weaker than the higher amount of powder in the .38 special (not sure how much it'd usually be, but that's why the case length is so long, even with modern smokeless loadings... because black powder takes up way more room and you need a lot more for the same effect as a smokeless round, if it even reaches the same performance with it's maximum powder charge.

Although, a softer shooting round that might be a little less powerful, can allow for faster follow up shots, especially if shooting double action, which I'd assume the guns in the song would've been around then. If the gun recoils enough for the muzzle to rise, then it takes time to bring it back on target.. time that is in short supply in a gunfight. Also if it makes you miss due to flinching from anticipating harsh recoil, then it's not going to be effective. Lastly, it mentioned it was a woman with the .38. Women tend to be more sensitive to harder recoiling guns, especially handguns, and unless training at the range with it, which many men and women neglect to do unfortunately.

If the latter speculation, that he can shoot her quicker, start firing in double action mode, and quickly unload the whole cylinder of .32-20 rounds into anatomically significant areas of her body, (head, heart, areas with significant arteries, center mass in general to hit the spine, gut shots even, etc.) ,while she might either not get any shots off, or if she does, might miss, or hit a part of him where the bullet passes straight through, like a shoulder, arm, etc. where there's no major arteries or anything, then he'd most likely have a high survival rate. A through and through shot can be relatively 'lucky' if one were to get shot, since it doesn't require surgical removal of a bullet, and the lead poisoning risks, etc.

Lmao I'm sorry I just realized I've been hypothesizing about a likely hypothetical scenario, that was a cover of .22-20 blues, and is obviously irrelevant no matter what, but I'm a huge gun nerd, especially classic/antique ones. I have only replica cap and ball revolvers as of now, but someday when I'm in a better financial position, I'm gonna buy a pre 1898 antique revolver (No FFL needed, same with the cap and ball replicas, all ship straight to my front door, couldn't be simplier, and no paperwork or BS licensing to deal with :) Hopefully I can get a double action one, since I like double action revolvers. There is a DA cap and ball, called the Starr, but it's pretty expensive and can be pretty finicky, with apparently a very heavy trigger pull. Plus it'd be nice to find one in somewhat decent shape, with a swing out cylinder... though ik most would be gate loaded... but eh, it'd still be a quicker reload than with my cap and ball revolvers lol... short of buying expensive spare cylinders to have pre-loaded for a quicker C&B reload (think Pale Rider lol)

Shit, I just keep rambling. I gotta shut up or I'll go on forever, as I unfortunately tend to do when talking guns haha. If anyone makes it this far, I salute you. And I apologize if people are annoyed but this long rambling, pointless diatribe about the guns from the song lol.

All comments from YouTube:


The original Hey Joe.. Where you goin' with that 32-20 in your hand?


@Derrick Oneal . I was responding to Frank's comment regarding "Hey Joe," not the original post. (B/t/w... I've been playing guitar for over fifty years. I'd played in several bands, first rock-bans then blues-bands, and then did mostly solo acoustic gigs (mostly pre-war blues). Now I mostly just teach a bit. For beginning students, the first tune I have them work on to practice holding their simple chords and changing is "Hey Joe" because that tune uses all five open major chords and can be done using simple strumming of those five chords, and then as one progresses in their skill-level, can gradually be built upon into a fairly complex finger-style arrangement utilizing not only those open chords but multiple chord-fragments up the neck including the addition of hammer-ons and pull-offs.)

Derrick Oneal

@TheRealDadfad 32-20 was before 1950’s, and the original post didn’t mention hendrix


Hey Joe was an old folk tune from the 1950's done by several others before Hendrix did it.

Gummy Dewitt

Oldheads: These damn kids, all they do these days is rap about guns and shit
Robert Johnson:

Harrell Davenport

I'm 14 I'm a blues musician


In a week. Perhaps in a month, perhaps in half a year, you'll come back to one of Robert's songs, and you won't know why, but you will want to hear it again.


this is literally me

Dan Moran

@Grass Man Hi. I hope that's just black humour. If you're really feeling like that, talk to someone. X.

Dan Moran

Sometimes, a cold bed beats a hot one.

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