Sunday, March 16, 2014

Big Mama Thornton: Hound Dog

We all know Elvis's version of Hound Dog, but the original song is far better.

It was written by two white teenagers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton - you can hear that 1952 recording on Youtube too.

The words of the original version are sexier and make more sense. It is a song sung by a woman who is throwing her no-good man out:
You ain't nothing but a hound dog
Been snooping 'round my door
You can wag your tail
But I ain't gonna feed you no more
The sanitised, near-nonsense version recorded by Elvis - Did he think he was singing to a real dog? Did he expect his woman to catch rabbits? - was rewritten by the squeaky-clean white act Freddie Bell and the Bellboys.

Big Mama Thornton comes over here as the Peggy Mount of the blues. When Jerry Leiber made some suggestions in the studio, says the song's very full Wikipedia entry, she told him:
"White boy, don't you be tellin' me how to sing the blues."

1 comment:

wolfi said...

It's an interesting question to me:

Why were so many Jewish(!) teenagers like those two, Phil Spector and Bob Dylan fascinated by the Blues in the 50s/60s?