Why the lyrics to Hound Dog were changed.
 

Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by Willa Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952. Other early versions illustrate the differences among blues, country, and rock and roll in the mid 1950s. The 1956 remake by Elvis Presley is the best known version. This is the version that is #19 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. "Hound Dog" was also recorded by 5 country singers in 1953 alone, and over 26 times through 1964.

Thornton gave this account of how the original was created to Ralph Gleason. �They were just a couple of kids, and they had this song written on the back of a paper bag.� She added a few interjections of her own, played around with the rhythm (some of the choruses have thirteen rather than twelve bars), and had the band bark and howl like hound dogs at the end of the song.

In fact, she interacts constantly in a call and response fashion during a one minute long guitar "solo" by Pete Lewis . Her vocals include lines such as: "Aw, listen to that ole hound dog howl.. OOOOoooow", "Now wag your tail", Aw, get it, get it, get it". Thornton's version is a slow, powerful, country blues.

Record producer Bernie Lowe suspected that "Hound Dog" could potentially have greater appeal, and asked Freddie Bell of Freddie Bell and the Bellboys to rewrite the lyrics to appeal to a broader radio audience. "Snoopin' round my door" was replaced with "cryin' all the time", and "You can wag your tail, but I ain't gonna feed you no more" was replaced by "You ain't never caught a rabbit, and you ain't no friend of mine."

This new version of "Hound Dog" was recorded on Lowe's Teen Records in 1955 ((TEEN 101 with "Move Me Baby" on the flip side, two of four songs the group did with Lowe that year). The regional popularity of this release, along with the group's showmanship, yielded both a tour, and an engagement in the Las Vegas Sands Hotel's Silver Queen Bar.

Posted:  1st. May 2008 

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