Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cover: Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks, "Hey Bo Diddley"

Back when The Band was still The Hawks, they backed Ronnie Hawkins on this cover of Bo Diddley's original, which takes elements from both "Bo Diddley" (which is based on the "Hush Little Baby" lullaby) and "Hey! Bo Diddley" (which is based on Old Macdonald.) The thing that bites me is that growing up, I only knew this version from the oldies radio station, and assumed it was Bo's original. So until tonight I was mad trying to find the version with this exact phrasing.

I came to think of it because I was listening to "Hare Krishna" by Husker Du, and I thought "Hey, they're doing a goof on 'I Want Candy!' Wait, 'I Want Candy' is just a Bo Diddley beat! Oh yeah, like a million songs have that beat in them!" It's a great, timeless rhythm that keeps getting used in rock music (though you don't hear it much anymore) because it's solid and propulsive but also sinewy and suggestive. "Bah-bah-bah---a-bah-bah." Check out this quote from Wikipedia about its prevalence:

“Other songs employing the Bo Diddley beat include “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame” (1961) by Elvis Presley, “I Want Candy” by The Strangeloves, “1969” (1969) by The Stooges, “Panic in Detroit” (1973) by David Bowie, “Mr. Brownstone” (1987) by Guns N’ Roses, “Hari Krsna” (lyrics are even sung to the tune of ‘Hey Bo Diddley’) by Hüsker Dü from their album Zen Arcade, “Faith (1987) by George Michael, “Desire” (1988) by U2, “Boa-Diddley” (1990) by Phillip Boa and the Voodooclub, “Movin’ on Up” (1991) by Primal Scream, “Woodcutter’s Son” (1995) by Paul Weller, and “Screwdriver” (1999) by The White Stripes.[50] Other examples include “Magic Bus” by The Who, “Rudie Can’t Fail” by The Clash, “Get Me to the World on Time” by The Electric Prunes, and “Party at the Leper Colony” by “Weird Al” Yankovic.[51] Some of the more subtle uses of the Biddley beat include “Hateful” (1979) by The Clash and “How Soon Is Now?” (1985) by The Smiths.”

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