Ain’t no use in going home
Jody’s got your girl and gone
[...] Gonna get a three-day pass
Just to kick old Jody’s ass.
— U.S. Army marching cadence, a.1944
Anyone who has seen a movie about the U.S. Army has heard soldiers chanting and singing as they march or run. These chants or cadences are called jodies or jody calls, after a character in many of the songs. The character Jody is a civilian back home who has stolen the affections of the soldier’s sweetheart. From The Chicago Defender, 20 November 1943:
I overheard some soldiers referring to me as “Jody in an army uniform.”
The military use of jody was introduced to the U.S. Army by African-American soldiers. Jody is a clipping of the name of Joe the Grinder, a slightly older character in jazz and blues mythology.
Joe the Grinder is the name of mythical ladies man in blues tunes who seduces the wives and sweethearts of prisoners and soldiers. He’s also known as Joe De Grinder and Joe D. Grinder. The term dates to at least 1939. Grinder is from an old slang verb, to grind, meaning to copulate. From The Ladies Parliament (1647):
Digbies Lady takes it ill, that her Lord grinds not at her mill.
(Source: Historical Dictionary of American Slang; Proquest Historical Newspapers)
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton