With all of the blues founding fathers I have covered during these first ~ 40 days, I couldn’t complete the cycle without including Willie Dixon. Dixon was actually one of the most productive songwriters of the blues emergence of the 1950s and 1960s, he just didn’t have quite the same vocal prowess or performance flair as his more prominent peers Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Howlin’ Wolf. That being said, his album “I Am The Blues”, is rated as the # 4 blues album of all time by digitaldreamdoors.com. This album was actually released as a collection in 1970, but for sequencing purposes, I felt it was important to place it within the time frame these songs were being played and performed, and equally important, ahead of when they were delivered to a wider audience with powerful covers by The Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin and The Doors, among others.
“Back Door Man”, “I Can’t Quit You, Baby”, “I Ain’t Superstitious”, “You Shook Me”, “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” and “The Little Red Rooster” lay the foundation for blues rock that still resonates on classic rock playlists to this day. Unlike many of his peers, Willie Dixon performed primarily on standup bass, leaving the guitar and piano leads to other bandmates. I find this synchs up well with the fact that while he was the creator of all of these songs, most of the most famous versions were performed by his blues contemporaries or the rock artists that followed in his footsteps.
Maybe because it is Saturday night, or maybe it is because I’m feeling particularly inspired by the magnitude of impact Willie Dixon had on my lifelong favorites, but I have extended this listen by alternating takes of his versions (and others of his day) with their remarkable remakes. These much more commercially successful versions may be the ones I grew up with, but more than ever, I appreciate where they came from, and where the real roots of rock and roll music come from. Artists like Willie Dixon will never receive the full credit they deserved, and they certainly had no idea at the time how long-lasting or impactful their songs would be, but I can only hope each listener who takes the time to look back on where it all started will emerge as fortunate and blessed as I have been to experience this American sound in its purest original form.