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(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man

Muddy Waters

The Hoochie Coochie – a belly dance or a lap dance suggestively performed by women, and popular in Chicago in the late 19th Century. Remember Cab Calloway’s Minnie the Moocher … she is a either a “red-hot” or a “low-down” hoochie-coocher – or both.

A man managing hoochie cooche dancers, or putting on a hoochie coochie show, or watching one, might be labelled a Hoochie Coochie Man … and so the title for this Willie Dixon composed song.

But in 1988, Dixon told Paul Zollo (Songwriters On Songwriting) that a hoochie coochie man comes from mystical/religious traditions – like the voodoo man. The song definitely carries that sense of voodoo:

I got a black cat bone
I got a mojo too
I got the John the Conqueror root

No wonder Zollo interviewed Willie Dixon for his book – Dixon was prolific. He is responsible for one of the best – and most poetic – descriptions of blues music:

The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits

His songs have been performed & recorded by many, many have become blues standards … and been very influential. Perhaps too influential – in 1987 Led Zeppelin settled out of court with Dixon. Dixon’s claim was for copyright infringement  for the songs Bring It On Home & Whole Lotta Love.

Dixon’s biography is well worth a read … one notable episode of trouble for him was his stance on being drafted into the US Army. He was a conscientious objector claiming that exploitation of blacks should mean they are exempted from drafted.

Back to (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man

willie dixon & muddy waters

The original 1954 recording had a stellar line-up: Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, Otis Spann, & Fred Below.

I first heard the song in about 1970, on the Muddy Waters album – Live at Newport 1960.

The song was first added to my collection when I bought the Allman Brothers Band second album, Idlewild South – it remains one of my favourite versions of the song and was the westerly option at Crossroad #5 – Voodoo Chile.

So what’s the link between (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man and Don’t Take Everybody To Be Your Friend?

Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharpe were both riding along in 1964 in The Blues & Gospel Caravan tour of England.

… and maybe the Hoochie Coochie Man is just why Sister Rosetta is advocating caution and care

It is very unfortunate that this first video ends abruptly but it is the only clip I could find of Muddy at Newport. The second has the complete song, this clip starts with about 2m 30s of Muddy Waters chatting about his roots.


Other Stuff You Might Enjoy.

* Willie Dixon’s songs – a wikipedia page that lists Dixon’s main songs and who they have been recorded by.

* Official Willie Dixon website.

* Hoochie Coochie Man playlist on YouTube7 recordings of the song by Willie Dixon; Buddy Guy; The Allman Brothers; Steppenwolf; Jimi Hendrix; Paul Rodgers; Buddy Guy & Eric Clapton.

* A (very) short Muddy Waters biography (3m 49s) – with comments from Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Charlie Musselwhite and others.

* The Chess Record Story: Part 1 (14m 42s); Part 2 (14m 56s); Part 3 (14m 53s); Part 4 (13m 11s)

* A Superstar Blues Jam 1966 – watch this. Nothing to do with Hoochie Coochie Man but it does feature Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann and a few other greats.

Destination next?

North:  Built For Comfort by Howlin’ Wolf
East:     You Shook Me by Jeff Beck
South:   Hoodoo Man Blues by Junior Wells
West:    Don’t Take Everybody To Be Your Friend 

Crossroad 22