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See See Rider — Or C.C. Rider?

There are many theories and conjectures about the origin and meaning of the title; none of them have been proven correct, and the song's complex history may make proof impossible. Performers have interpreted the song in more than one way, and have sometimes changed words to suit their interpretations.

The spelling See See Rider might be a pronunciation spelling of "C. C. Rider". Many sources indicate that "c. c. rider" refers to either early "church circuit" traveling preachers who did not have established churches or "county circuit" riders who were attorneys following a circuit judge. Debra Devi, a researcher of the language of the blues, recorded a hypothesis that during the American Civil War C.C. stood for Cavalry Corporal, a horseman officer. "Riding" is also a common metaphor for sexual intercourse in the blues, and "rider" a term for a sexual partner. In African American usage a "rider" can be either male or female. This folk etymology appears to stem from somebody by the name Alex Washburn who came across this interpretation of "c.c. rider" in a folk song collection by Alan Lomax, a prominent American field researcher of folk music.

The term see see rider is sometimes taken as synonymous with easy rider (an unscrupulous man living off his lover's earnings). In dirty blues songs, "easy rider" can also refer to a woman who had liberal sexual views, had been married more than once, or was skilled at sex. Likewise, in jazz singer and guitarist Wee Bea Booze's version of "See See Rider Blues", which reached number one on the US Billboard R&B chart in 1943, the well audible lyrics are "now your girl come", hence addressing a man. Another theory is that the term could refer to a prostitute and there would be a lyric such as "You made me love you, now your man done come", "your man" would refer to the woman's pimp. In this interpretation, rather than being directed to a male "easy rider", the song would be an admonition to a prostitute to give up her evil ways.

There are further theories:

Easy rider was sometimes used to refer to the partner of a hypersexual woman who therefore does not have to work or pay for sex.

Easy rider sometimes referred to the guitar hung across the back of a travelling blues singer.

Big Bill Broonzy states, on his album Big Bill Broonzy (recorded in Baarn, the Netherlands, early 1956 and released late 1956), that the first time he heard that song was by a man who "loved to be on the water, and that's why he wrote this title, and that's the title of the song: it's Sea Sea Rider".

Big Bill Broonzy also states, in a conversation about his youth with Bill Randle on his album The Bill Broonzy Story (recorded on July 12, 1957), that See See Rider was a blues singer (AVID Roots, Classic Box Set, AMSC1159) before playing the tune.

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