As a non native speaker I'm quite stumped trying to understand what "do the 45" means in this song by Ryan Shaw that has the same title.

A few searches didn't help at all, so I wonder if this is some kind of lesser known idiom or obscure reference that I don't get just because it's a cultural thing. I know that 45 could refer to a revolver, but the song doesn't sound like it has anything to do with firearms.


Given the context, he seems to be referring to a .45 caliber hand gun.

It may be important to note that there have been many songs over the years that set a serious topic to upbeat music. One of the most famous examples is Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant.

The lyrics as I hear them:

45, yeah, do the 45. (x2)

Well, you heard about the shotgun, how bad it's gonna be. I got news for you baby; just listen to me.

You're twining and whining, like all the rest. Well, I got my 45, and I'll create a big mess.

45, yeah, do the 45. (x2)

Well, here comes little sister; she's twisting up a storm. She's doin' the 38 and she's waving her arms.

Well come on, young girl, and dance with me. I've got my 45, and I'm as bad I can be.

Now don't just stand there lookin' so dumb. Act like Jesse James and have you some fun.

Everybody's dancing and moving all around. They've got their 45s and they're the best in town.

45, yeah, do the 45. (x2)

Come on girl, do the 45, twist up a storm baby, do the 45. Whining and twining, do the 45. Hey, hey hey.

45, do the 45. (repeats)

Interpretation of bold lines:

Well, you heard about the shotgun, how bad it's gonna be. : A shotgun is another type of gun. Shootings are considered a bad thing.

Well, I got my 45, and I'll create a big mess : Again, shootings are bad. They create a "mess" in the literal sense that bodies and crime scenes will need to be cleaned-up, as well as political and social fallout (riots, protests, etc.)

She's doin' the 38 : A "38" commonly refers to a .38 caliber hand gun. This is what sealed the hand gun analogy for me. A 45 can also be a record, but there are no 38 records.

Act like Jesse James and have you some fun. : Jesse James was an infamous outlaw in "Old West" of the United States. He was known to be violent and to have murdered many people.

Other uses of "45" outside of a firearm:

"45" record: The most common form of the vinyl single is the 45 or 7-inch. The names are derived from its play speed, 45 rpm, and the standard diameter, 7 inches (18 cm).

"Colt 45": Refers to cheap malt liquor, and is made even more famous in the song Crazy Rap by Afroman (caution explicit lyrics).

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  • I wouldn't be surprised, though, if "45" has some other slang connotation, perhaps sexual, and there's a double entendre of sorts. – Hot Licks Jul 16 '16 at 17:08
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    @HotLicks Rule 34 engaged – Skooba Jul 16 '16 at 17:14
  • Well, actually there is a definite double entendre, as we have the sentence "Well, I got my body poppin' out for you to witness", clearly referring to the male sexual organ. And of course that's often regarded as a gun. But my guess is that "45" and perhaps "38" have slang connotations unrelated to firearms, and those figure into the ultimate meaning of the lyrics. – Hot Licks Jul 16 '16 at 19:40

A "45" refers to the Colt 45 revolver, or a later gun derived from it.

So to "do the 45" refers to using such a gun.

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  • Oh, thanks. I wasn't aware that "doing" could be used in that particular way. – s.m Jul 16 '16 at 14:34
  • why does it have to be a Colt Revolver? there are many .45 caliber guns... – Skooba Jul 16 '16 at 14:36
  • @Skooba: That's true today. But it's "original" context was the "Colt 45." That's why I used it as a reference. – Tom Au Jul 16 '16 at 14:44
  • @S.m.: It's American slang. I believe that it corresponds most closely to the Italian facciare, – Tom Au Jul 16 '16 at 14:45
  • @TomAu sure, "do" means "fare", but it still sounded new to me in this context, in the same way it did when I learned that "to do" someone meant to have intercourse with them. Thanks again, I learned something new! – s.m Jul 16 '16 at 15:36

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