Thursday, August 28, 2008

He Ain't Nuthing But A Hound Dog!

"When I die, they'll say 'he couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good!' " -Hound Dog Taylor

I don't know what got me into a Hound Dog mood, so, well, here I am. Hound Dog didn't get as big as the other Chicago Bluesmen, as far as I can tell , he preferred rocking house parties and playing in the nastiest, dirtiest, realist, blues clubs in Chicago. He was accompanied by a drummer- Ted Harvey and a guitarist- Brewer Phillips. HD and Phillips traded the rhythm and bass line so that the other could play lead. They were a throwback band so to speak, back in the day, before the electric bass, folks played the bass/rhythm lines on a second guitar. I had the opportunity to listen first hand, from David Myers (of Little Walter fame), about how this was accomplished. But that's a story for another time.

There was nothing beautiful about Hound Dog, he played on cheap equipment, had an unpolished voice, and lived a hard life. He was tall, slim, and had a big goofy smile. He also told nearly incomprehensible jokes that only he found funny and didn't mind laughing hysterically and putting his hands up to cover his face. His music was so raw and unpretentious. This wasn't music to be dissected and studied, it was to be enjoyed. It was fun, he was having fun, the people were having fun. And that's what makes him most beautiful to me, what you see, what you hear, it's honest. There's nothing more beautiful than the truth.

I guess what I'm getting at is that the blues is about doing. You do sex, you don't perform it. You do love, you don't perform it. You do life, you don't perform it. Hound Dog did the blues and it was genuine.

HD cut about 4 records before he died, towards the end he and his band started to pick up a following. His was the first album released on Alligator records because other labels didn't want to record him, so his manager started up a label just for him. Alligator is still around by the way.
oh yeah, Hound Dog didn't just cut records, he also cut an extra digit off of one of his hands. You see, Hound Dog had six digits on each hand, and as the story goes, he got drunk one night and amputated one of them himself with a broken bottle.

This is a guy I really would have liked to see play, he died in the 70's though, but not before he was recorded on film or tape. Thanks to Youtube, some of his live performances live on.

So I've got some Dog for you, sit back, turn it way up, and let those PC speakers distort and if you feel it, yell out "Sho nuff" one time loud enough for the Dog to hear you.

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