Friday, October 21, 2011

The Soul Corner - "Hound Dog" - Big Mama Thornton

It is impossible to say what was the first "soul" song. Some cite Ray Charles' 1954 hit "I Got a Woman" though the term "soul music" didn't come into play until 1961.
But for my money, this 1952 recording is as good a place as any to start: Big Mama Thornton singing the original version of the Leiber-Stoller penned, 12 bar blues classic "Hound Dog". It was released as a 10" 78 RPM single and reached #1 on the R&B charts.
I love the vocal phrasing here, the emphasis on different words each time through.
"Big Mama" was born in Alabama, but got her start in Houston. She was an accomplished drummer and harmonica player. She died in 1984.
Did you know that the song was later covered by some white guy from Memphis? But these lyrics pack a whole lot more power when sung by a woman to a man. I mean, c'mon seriously, who acts like a "hound dog," the fellas or the ladies?

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