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Hoochie Coochie Man -- Willie Dixon

From a modern-day minstrel...
(Poem #173) Hoochie Coochie Man
Gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born
She said "You got a boy-child coming,
Gonna be a son-of-a-gun
He gonna make pretty women
Jump and shout
And the world's gonna know
What's it all about

    Don't you know what I'm saying!
    Yeah, everybody knows I'm him
    I said I'm your hoochie coochie man
    You'd better believe I'm him!

I've got a black cat bone
I've got a mojo too
I've got a little bottle of Johnny confidence
I'm gonna mess with you
Hey! I'll pick you up
Lead you by the hand
And the world's gonna know
I'm your hoochie coochie man

    Don't you know what I'm saying!
    Yeah! Every body knows I'm him!
    Said I'm your hoochie coochie man
    You'd better believe I'm him!

On the seventh hour
Of the seventh day
Of the seventh month
Seven black girls say
He was born for good luck
And you will see
I got seven hundred dollars, baby,
Don't you mess with me!

    Don't you know what I'm saying!
    Yeah! Every body knows I'm him!
    Said I'm your hoochie coochie man
    You'd better believe I'm him!
-- Willie Dixon
Go to a music store and pick up virtually _any_ blues compilation;
chances are, you'll find that half the songs were written by Willie
Dixon. Classics such as today's, errm, 'poem' (Ok, so I'm stretching
definitions a little bit. I still think the blues is poetry, though),
"Little Red Rooster", "Spoonful", "Back-door Man", "Evil"... the list of
wonderful songs penned by the bass player from Chicago just goes on and
on. Only a handful of people (in the history of popular music) have been
as influential as Dixon; only a handful have been as _good_.


As usual, the All-Music Guide has the most comprehensive info on the
net, including this

[Biographical essay]

Willie Dixon's life and work was virtually an embodiment of the progress
of the blues, from an accidental creation of the descendants of freed
slaves to a recognized and vital part of America's musical heritage.
That Dixon was one of the first professional blues songwriters to
benefit in a serious, material way -- and that he had to fight to do it
-- from his work also made him an important symbol of the injustice that
still informs the music industry, even at the end of this century. A
producer, songwriter, bassist and singer, he helped Muddy Waters,
Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and others find their most commercially
successful voices...

... Dixon's real recognition as a songwriter began with Muddy Waters'
recording of "Hoochie Coochie Man." The success of that single, "Evil"
by Howlin' Wolf, and "My Babe" by Little Walter saw Dixon established as
Chess's most reliable tunesmith, and the Chess brothers continually
pushed Dixon's songs on their artists. In addition to writing songs,
Dixon continued as bassist and recording manager of many of the Chess
label's recording sessions, including those by Lowell Fulson, Bo Diddley
and Otis Rush...

... During the mid-'60s, [Dixon] began to see a growing interest in his
songwriting from the British rock bands that he saw while in London --
his music was getting covered regularly by artists like the Rolling
Stones and the Yardbirds, and when he visited England, he even found
himself cajoled into presenting his newest songs to their managements.
Back at Chess, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters continued to perform
Dixon's songs, as did newer artists such as Koko Taylor, who had her own
hit with "Wang Dang Doodle."...

... By [the 1980s]Dixon was regarded as something of an elder statesman,
composer, and spokesperson of American blues. Dixon had suffered from
increasingly poor health in recent years, and lost a leg to diabetes
several years earlier, which didn't slow him down very much. He died
peacefully in his sleep early in 1992.

    -- Bruce Eder, All-Music Guide

and this piece of

[Critical Acclaim]

Willie Dixon will go down in blues history as, if not its most famous
composer, certainly one of its most notable and most popular. While more
lip service is certainly paid to the song catalogs of Robert Johnson and
Muddy Waters (both great, but both only a drop in the bucket when
compared to Willie's voluminous output), Dixon holds another unique
place, that of a songwriter who was also a performer, but a songwriter
first and foremost. In this regard, Dixon had a lot closer kinship with
the Tin Pan Alley way of doing things, where singers were singers only
and songwriters furnished the commercial ammunition. That Willie not
only a) had the inclination to apply this same working system to the
blues and b) find a workplace in Chess Records that allowed him to pitch
the songs but arrange and produce these sessions to final fruition is
one of those blues as a commercial force equations that supposedly never
come to bear in a music so noble and raw in its emotions. But that was,
and still is, the beauty of Dixons work. He helped popularize and
mainstream the blues from a back porch, back alley, fairly disreputable
form of music to something acceptable and welcomed on concert stages
worldwide. It may have taken several liberal adaptions of his songs by
various White musicians for them to become the standards that we now
know them to be, but the musical fabric of the blues would be
unimaginable without songs like "Back Door Man," "Hoochie Coochie Man,"
"Spoonful," "Wang Dang Doodle," "I Just Want To Make Love To You," and
"Little Red Rooster." The structures and subject matter to his songs are
exactly what gives them their universality; they are both the blues and
about the blues. They draw on strong universal themes yet keep their
playlets in the African-American community with their colloquialisms and
slang terminology; certainly the party revelers in "Wang Dang Doodle"
are like few parties held in most Caucasian neighborhoods. Yet Dixons
description of the party in that song makes it one thats accessible to
everyone from all over the world; everybody can pitch a wang dang doodle
all night long. Willie Dixon's songs live inside the voices of a million
singers, of all colors and races, simply because his music speaks to
everybody who hears his basic, homespun message.

        -- Cub Koda, All-Music Guide


Dixon once won the Illinois State Golden Gloves Heavyweight
Championship. He might've been a successful boxer, but he turned to
music instead, thanks to Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston, a guitarist who had
seen Dixon at the gym where he worked out and occasionally sang with


Lots of them. Lots and lots and lots. Rather than wasting your time
surfing the net, I suggest you go out and buy some of the man's music.

71 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Mike Byrne said...

I never thought of Willie Dixon as a poet....until now.He was and is one
of my favorite blues musicians.
"built for comfort,not for speed"

Westcott Mal said...

Hoochie Coochie Man, the line 'I've got a little bottle of Johnny
confidence' isn't right. It should be something close to 'I got John the
Conquerer root', corrupted a number of ways, e.g. 'Johnny congaroo', 'John
the Conqueroot', etc..

John the Conquerer root refers to a certain kind of 'John root', taken from
plants in the yam family, used commonly as an ingredient in 'mojo bags, or
'mojo hands', which are voodoo talismans.

Muddy Waters uses this term as well in his song 'Mannish Boy', which is
essentially the same song as 'Hoochie Coochie Man', da-dum da-dump.

Mal Westcott

Cindy Chan said...

conckeroo is hair grease

Pollock Kim said...

The person who mentioned John the Conquerer Root is right. In fact on the
album Muddy Waters Folksinger, Muddy talks about his John the Conquerer
root, which is a piece of voodoo technology, just as is a Mojo Hand.



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