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You may not know the man, but you know the songs.
September 13, 2007 6:19 AM   Subscribe

There's a whole lotta Mefiers interested in the upcoming Led Zeppelin reunion, and it got me to thinking, let's pay a little visit to the Poet Laureate of the blues, Mr. Willie Dixon. After all, without him, there wouldn't have been a Whole Lotta Love, or a Bring It On Home, or... hell, there might not have been any Zep at all... His music has been interpreted and reinterpreted by an astonishing number of musicians. The man wrote a whole lotta songs. Oh, and, he played a little bit of bass, too. He was a whole lotta great.
posted by flapjax at midnite (28 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Deadheads note: On the off-chance that you didn't already know, Dixon also made some appearances with Garcia and company. See here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:20 AM on September 13, 2007


Let's hope it's better than their Live Aid performance,/a>
posted by quarsan at 6:37 AM on September 13, 2007


Let's hope it's better than their Live Aid performance

Hmm, yeah, that was pretty awful. And I couldn't find Willie Dixon anywhere in that clip, quarsan ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:45 AM on September 13, 2007


He really set the standard for both bass playing and song-writing, as far as the Chicago Blues goes. It's hard to overestimate his contribution.

As far as the Zep reunion -- I've heard reports that Jason Bonham's drumming is pretty meh compared to his dad. I saw a Page/Plant tour about 10 years ago, and it was interspersed with moments of sublime genius and moments of utter buffoonery.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:50 AM on September 13, 2007


Dixon's I Am The Blues is an amazing record.
posted by chillmost at 6:55 AM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was fortunate enough to see Willie perform back in 1990 at a John Lee Hooker tribute concert in New York (god, it seems like a lifetime ago). He was an old man by then, but still put on a good show. Definitely one of the highlights of the night.
posted by rocket88 at 7:15 AM on September 13, 2007


It is astonishing to find out that, rather than Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon wrote Diddy Wah Diddy.
posted by y2karl at 7:41 AM on September 13, 2007


The problem with Led Zeppelin, as quarsan's link demonstrates perfectly, is that Robert Plant just can't sing anywhere near as high as he did thirty, forty years ago.

As for the early blues roots of Led Zeppelin...
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:46 AM on September 13, 2007


G-g-g-g-GREAT post. Thank you!
posted by googly at 7:59 AM on September 13, 2007


It is astonishing to find out that, rather than Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon wrote Diddy Wah Diddy.

Yeah. And I assumed for years that Hoochie Coochie Man was a Muddy Waters-penned tune.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:02 AM on September 13, 2007


... oooh, thanks for the post, Willie Dixon is the song man, indeed. I will have to defer link exploration until post-work, but just wanted to say thanks.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:03 AM on September 13, 2007


Don't forget Perry Foster... an early influence/comrade of Plant's and all-round great guy.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:12 AM on September 13, 2007


Yeah. And I assumed for years that Hoochie Coochie Man was a Muddy Waters-penned tune.

Other than that it is a lyrical shout out to a phrase from a far older song, it shares little with Dixon's wholly authored work, and, for a fact, as far as the credits are concerned, Ellas McDaniel [aka Bo Diddley] is the first name on the song, as in Ellas McDaniel/Willie Dixon and, musically and lyrically, Diddy--not to be confused with Blind Blake's 1929 Diddie Wah Diddie--seems far more Diddley than Dixon.
posted by y2karl at 8:39 AM on September 13, 2007


Hear heard, flapjax. Led who?
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:52 AM on September 13, 2007


Here's an excellent read concerning Jimmy Page's musical theft and plagiarism. THE THIEVING MAGPIES: Jimmy Page's Dubious Recording Legacy
posted by wsg at 9:01 AM on September 13, 2007


Every fucking rap artist steals and no one says a word! And it's not even an interpretation- they literally STEAL someone else's music!

(I'm no Led Zep fan, by the way)
posted by wfc123 at 9:10 AM on September 13, 2007


Every fucking rap artist steals and no one says a word! And it's not even an interpretation- they literally STEAL someone else's music!

Um, no, actually. On both counts.

(1) They don't steal (though they used to). They pay. Its called sample clearance, and its often quite expensive these days.

(2) People have said a word about it. Many words.
posted by googly at 9:21 AM on September 13, 2007




Here's an excellent read concerning Jimmy Page's musical theft and plagiarism. THE THIEVING MAGPIES: Jimmy Page's Dubious Recording Legacy


and for that matter...
posted by anazgnos at 10:16 AM on September 13, 2007


Willie Dixon getting back together?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:29 PM on September 13, 2007


I had read "the thieving magpies" and came out of it with a somewhat negative impression of Page because the lack credit to the original authors and because he didn't author a lot of those songs.

After listening to the originals in Reggie's link my opinion has totally changed, I still think credit should have been given to the authors, but Page & others are freaking geniuses for turning those song into the Led Zep songs I know. These are total transformations, not just covers that rock a bit more.
posted by coust at 6:48 PM on September 13, 2007


But can he sing harmony?
posted by vronsky at 8:47 PM on September 13, 2007


How odd, vronsky, that you should link to this Roches song: so utterly un-blues. Connected to Willie Dixon only inasmuch as they're both, well, music.

But, anyway, what the hell, right? And it just so happens that I haven't heard this song in years and years and years, and I must say it's brought up a wellspring of memories for me, personally. I was never actually that crazy about the Roches, but I did sort of admire, I think, their utter uniqueness. But when they emerged on the scene with that first record, in 1979, they became an instant hit with a lot of people in Boston, the city I was living in at the time. I'd just moved to Boston from Birmingham Alabama a couple of years prior. I was very young, really just starting to feel my way around in the world, and the world of music. My girlfriend at that time, well, she had friends and relatives that were crazy about the Roches, they kind of exploded in Boston, and I heard that record a lot.

Of course most of the memories are either too personal or too mundane to share here, but I just wanted to say thanks, vronsky, for so unexpectedly posting that little slice of the life I've left so far behind.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:18 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


regarding the "Deadheads note" above...

Been a correction by bobbyt65 to the effect this was James Cotton instead of Willie Dixon(Who passed away on January 29, 1992) Besides Willie played bass. Died of heart failure in Burbank, California in 1992 and was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

(from the youtube comment section)
posted by milnak at 12:39 AM on September 14, 2007


Hey, thanks for that, milnak. To be honest, I didn't pay much attention at all to the Dead stuff: just threw that in as an afterthought for, well, the Deadheads! (I used to be one myself, back in my teenie years...)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:57 AM on September 14, 2007


Been a big fan of Willie Dixon since I was a teenager and I appreciate that he's getting positive attention here. In fact I'm so pleased, I finally registered so that I could make this comment.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:25 PM on September 14, 2007


Cool, Rarebit! Now, if you'll just email your above comment to mathowie, so he can send me my 15% of your membership fee, I'd be much obliged.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:42 PM on September 14, 2007


You want $0.75 minus postage?
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:14 PM on September 14, 2007


Postage? What's that?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2007


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