This is the latest installment in our weekly series, The Language of the Blues, in which author and rocker Debra Devi explores the meaning of a word or phrase from a blues song. Come back every week for the latest! Devi’s award-winning book, The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to ZuZu, is now available at Bluescentric.com!
A chump is someone who can be easily victimized–a loser, an easy dupe, or a mark. Of course, even the wiliest man can become a chump when a woman is involved. As Blind (Arthur) Blake sings in “Chump Man Blues”: “I used to be a wise man but a woman made me a chump.”
Chump may be derived from the Old Norse word kumba , which meant “block of wood,” and is connected to the slang term “blockhead.” An alternate theory is that chump is derived from “chum,” which was the term for a roommate in prison as early as the 1650s.
“Bad Luck Blues”- Lovie Austin, recorded by Ma Rainey
“Chump Man Blues”- Blind Blake (Arthur Blake)
Blind (Arthur) Blake – “Chump Man Blues”