THEY'RE known as standards, or seminal blues songs. Like in jazz and rock, the blues has its own list of popular numbers that have been become generic to the genre. They've been played by scores of musicians, and are featured at most concerts. The list of seminal blues songs is long, and it's definitely not easy to name just five. But going by their sheer popularity over the years, we choose this lot.
Hoochie Coochie Man: Also referred to as '(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man', the song is primarily associated with Muddy Waters, who first recorded it in 1954 but went on to do a memorable version at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival. The actual writer is Willie Dixon, one of the most prolific and admired verse-smiths in blues history. Muddy's version became a major hit and numerous musicians 'covered' it. The term 'Hoochie Coochie' is derived from the name of a provocative dance popular in the US. And the song is sung in a typical blues form, has a trademark guitar style, and also uses the harmonica. Some of the popular versions have been done by Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy and the great rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
Dust My Broom: The song was first recorded as 'I Believe I'll Dust My Broom' by the legendary blues player Robert Johnson in 1936. However, it was popularised in the early 1950s by Elmore James, known for his mastery over the electric slide guitar. The song was further adapted by blues greats Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Later versions include those by John Mayall, the Yardbirds, Canned Heat, guitarist Gary Moore, singer Etta James, ZZ Top, bluesmen Luther Allison, Freddie King and Albert King, and more recently by Johnny Winter. Elmore James' version remains the most admired, and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
Call It Stormy Monday: This was first recorded by T Bone Walker in 1947, and is often confused with the jazz song 'Stormy Monday Blues'. The full title of the song is 'They Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday's Just As Bad)'. Though most blues fans relate the song to the T Bone Walker version, it was covered by blues giants BB King and Albert King, blues-rock artistes Eric Clapton and Gary Moore, and even rock bands Jethro Tull and Allman Brothers.
Little Red Rooster: First called 'The Red Rooster', it was renamed after few years. Another classic written by Willie Dixon, it was first recorded by Howlin' Wolf with his own band. Later, he called on rock musicians like guitarist Eric Clapton, keyboardist Steve Winwood, bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, on what is a more popular recording. The song was recorded in a rock style by the Doors and the Rolling Stones.
The Thrill Is Gone: This became a major hit for the legendary BB King in 1970. However, it was written much earlier in 1951 by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell. King’s version earned him a Grammy, popular music’s most prestigious award. Besides the blues, it was also sung in other styles by soul singer Aretha Franklin and country singer Willie Nelson. But it's a song that most blues musicians play at live concerts.
5 GREAT SONGS, DOZENS OF VERSIONS. NEXT TIME YOU HEAR THEM, YOU'RE SURE TO TRIP ONCE MORE.