Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Willie Dixon

My Babe

First recorded (as “Dis Train”) by The Florida Normal and Industrial Institute Quartette (1924).
Also recorded (as “This Train”) by Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1939).
Hit version adapted by Willie Dixon and recorded (as “My Babe”) by Little Walter & His Jukes (R&B #1 1955).
Also recorded (as “My Babe”) by Cliff Richard (1959), The Uniques (1969), Willie Dixon (1970).

From the wiki: “‘My Babe’ was based on the traditional Gospel song ‘This Train (Is Bound For Glory)’, first recorded in 1924 by The Florida Normal and Industrial Institute Quartette. It was also first recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe as ‘This Train’ in 1939; a second version would be recorded by Tharpe in 1947 with the Sam Price Trio.

“‘My Babe’ was written by Willie Dixon (‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘Spoonful’, ‘Little Red Rooster‘) for Little Walter. Dixon reworked the Gospel arrangement and lyrics from the sacred (the procession of saints into Heaven) into the secular (a story about a woman who won’t stand for her man to cheat): ‘My baby, she don’t stand no cheating, my babe, she don’t stand none of that midnight creeping.’ Released in 1955 on Checker Records, the song was the only Dixon composition ever to become a #1 R&B single, one of the biggest hits of either of Dixon’s or Walter’s careers. Backing Little Walter’s vocals and harmonica were Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Leonard Caston on guitars, Willie Dixon on double-bass, and Fred Below on drums.

Wang Dang Doodle

First recorded by Howlin’ Wolf (1960).
Hit versions by Koko Taylor (US #58/R&B #13 1966), The Pointer Sisters (US #61/R&B #24 1973).
Also recorded by Savoy Brown (1971), Willie Dixon (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Wang Dang Doodle’ is a Blues song written by Willie Dixon and first recorded in 1960 by Howlin’ Wolf. In 1965, Dixon and Leonard Chess persuaded Koko Taylor to record it for Checker Records. Her recording charted both R&B and Pop, and ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ has since gone on to become a Blues standard. In his autobiography, Dixon explained that the phrase ‘wang dang doodle’ ‘meant a good time, especially if the guy came in from the South. A ‘wang dang’ meant having a ball and a lot of dancing, they called it a rocking style so that’s what it meant to ‘wang dang doodle’.’ Dixon claimed that he wrote ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ when he first heard Howlin’ Wolf in 1951 or 1952, but that it was ‘too far in advance’ for him and he saved it for later. Wolf supposedly hated the song at first and commented, ‘Man, that’s too old-timey, sound[s] like some old levee camp number.’

Whole Lotta Love

Inspired by “You Need Love” by Muddy Waters (1963)
and “You Need Loving” by Small Faces (1966).
Hit version by Led Zeppelin (US #4 1969).

From the wiki: “In 1962, Muddy Waters recorded ‘You Need Love’, written for him by peer Willie Dixon. In 1966 British mod band the Small Faces recorded the song as ‘You Need Loving’ for their 1966 debut album. Some of the lyrics of Led Zeppelin’s version were copied from the Willie Dixon song, a favorite of Plant’s. Plant’s phrasing is particularly similar to that of Steve Marriott’s in the Small Faces’ version. Similarities with ‘You Need Love’ would lead to a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin in 1985, settled out of court in favor of Dixon.

Little Red Rooster

First recorded (as “The Red Rooster”) by Howlin’ Wolf (1961).
Hit version by Sam Cooke (US #11/R&B #7 1963), The Rolling Stones (UK #1 1964).
Also recorded by Willie Dixon (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Little Red Rooster’ (also ‘The Red Rooster’) is credited to arranger and songwriter Willie Dixon. It was first recorded in 1961 by Blues musician Howlin’ Wolf in the Chicago Blues style. Sam Cooke adapted the song, sweetened it with additional instrumentation, and it saw chart success in 1963 as a Top 40 and R&B hit. The Rolling Stones recorded ‘Little Red Rooster’ in 1964 with original member Brian Jones, a key player in the recording. Their rendition, which remains closer to the original arrangement than Cooke’s, became a #1 record in the UK and is still the only Blues song to reach the top of the British chart.”

Seventh Son

First recorded by Willie Mabon (1955).
Hit versions by Johnny Rivers (US #7/CAN #1 1965), Georgie Fame (UK #25 1969).
Also recorded by Mose Allison (1958), Willie Dixon, writer (1970).

From the wiki: “‘The Seventh Son’, also recorded as ‘Seventh Son’, was written by Willie Dixon and first released as a single by Willie Mabon on Chess Records in 1955 (with Dixon on bass). Dixon recalled (via Songfacts.com), ‘The seventh son is part of the scriptures of the Bible. ‘The seventh son of the seventh son born on the seventh hour of the seventh day of the seventh month.’ I was born in the seventh month and I was the seventh child of my family.’ In the same interview, Mose Allison remembered, ‘I thought that was a great song of that type. One of the common things is to feel that you are supernatural sometimes. And most people have felt that at one time or another.’

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