Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Other People’s Songs: Spoonful

Howlin‘ Wolf: Spoonful


Here is my audacious statement of the week: Willie Dixon was as important to the classic sound of Chicago blues as Muddy Waters. That’s because you can’t look at the best work of any of the Chicago greats without finding a song that Willie Dixon wrote, and possibly produced. We heard Wang Dang Doodle here during nonsense week; that’s a Dixon tune. Willie Dixon became a house songwriter, producer, and studio musician, at Chess Records in the 1950s and early 60s. So just about anyone who went through Chess played some of his tunes. Some, like Spoonful, became signature tunes for the first artist who recorded them, in this case Howlin’ Wolf.

I’m stretching the definition of our theme a bit with this one. Yes, Howlin’ Wolf was the original artist, and yes, the song’s author, Willie Dixon, would later record the song under his own name. But Willie Dixon also plays bass on Howlin’ Wolf’s original version. So, even though Dixon’s later recording has him singing the song for the first time, he was more than just a bystander here. But I wanted to pay tribute to Dixon this week, and I don’t have a complete discography for all of the songs he wrote for others. So this is my solution. I hope nobody minds.

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