This 1954 recording (the second, after 1952's original) of blues standard "Hoochie Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters is one of the all-time classic blues records; a vital piece of Chicago-style electric blues that links the Delta to rock & roll, the session list is a who's who of bluesmen. Written by Chess Records everyman Willie Dixon, who also plays bass, the song also features Little Walter Jacobs (harmonica), Otis Spann (piano), Jimmy Rodgers (guitar), and Elgin Evens (drums). Above it all, we have the hearty and powerful Muddy Waters bellowing about his birthright as a "Hoochie Coochie Man." It was one of the earliest breaks from the Delta blues. Up until this song, most electric blues were just amplified versions of acoustic arrangements; this was something unique. Due to a dubious agreement, Dixon was never fully remunerated by Chess and its Arc Music publishing arm, and no amount of money could reflect the impact that this one man has had on popular music.
Waters employs his famous staggered, stop-and-start beat for the song, a dramatic stomp pattern that was recycled by him and Dixon for various other songs, including "Mannish Boy," and borrowed by Bo Diddley on his "I'm a Man." It epitomizes Waters, and by extension, the electric blues in general. The band is loose on the song's main lick and swings on the second section -- the chorus. The feel is undeniably sensuous. Jacobs's influential harmonica work is blistering, and Spann rolls his staccato piano figures in the trademark Chess style that can also be heard on Johnny Johnson's work on Chuck Berry's recordings. The recording are available on various compilations, the earliest LP versions were on Muddy Waters (1954) and The Best of Muddy Waters (1958).
Waters gives the self-mythologizing testament that would continue in urban American music, from blues, through rock & roll, right through the hip-hop of the late '90s. The braggadocio most likely came as a reaction to Dixon's past, escaping rural poverty by moving to Chicago, where he became an amateur prizefighter. Waters approach is appropriately swaggering as he brags (and/or warns): "Gypsy woman told my mother 'fore I was born/You got a boy-child coming, gonna be a son of a gun/Gonna make pretty womens jump and shout/And then the world gonna know what this all about/But you know I'm here/Everybody knows I'm here/Well, I'm the hoochie coochie man/Everybody knows I'm here." Dixon's lyrics roll off the tongue like the idiomatic poetry of Berry and Hank Williams. Like those writers, Dixon values the sounds of words and knows what combinations work as music in and of themselves. He lists off Hoodoo items (not to be confused with Voodoo): "I got the black cat bone and I got a mojo, too/I got the John the Conqueror Root, gonna mess with you." What a great line; when Waters sings, it sounds like "I got Johndaconkaroo"! The final verse rattles off a list, all items based on the number seven, which has biblical significance as the symbol of divine perfection -- coming from the Hebrew word "shevah," meaning full, or sated -- and the legend of the luck of the seventh son, which predated the Bible: "On the seventh hour, on the seventh day/On the seventh month, seven doctors say/'He was born for good luck, that you'll see'/I got seven hundred dollars; don't you mess with me!"