Bo Diddley

Say Man

Composed by Bo Diddley / Ellas McDaniel

Song Review by

"Say Man" was Bo Diddley's one and only Top 40 pop hit, which seems pretty surprising when you consider the man's body of work -- while such obvious classics as "Bo Diddley," "I'm a Man," "Who Do You Love," "Mona," and "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover" never crossed over from the R&B charts, "Say Man," which sounds like a time-filling comedy routine by comparison, was the number that was embraced by pop radio and the single-buying masses. Go figure. But if "Say Man" is filler, it's sublime filler -- here Bo and Jerome Green (Bo's maracas player, and let's pause to mention no other artist would be so obsessed with rhythm and such a visionary that they would hire a guy just to play maracas) exchange comic insults for two and a half minutes in a cleaned-up version of a couple guys running the dozens. However, most guys ranking out on each other wouldn't have a backing track this good, an up-tempo shuffle that all but demands movement, and as it turns out Bo and Jerome were a great comedy team, with Jerome playing the clown with his wild laugh and exaggerated drawl ("You so ugly, the stork that brought you into the world oughta be arrested!"), while Bo stays cool as the unflappable tough guy, no matter how crazed his banter may be ("You that thing I throw peanuts at!"). In the grand tradition of Otis Redding and Carla Thomas's "Tramp," "Say Man" sounds like a bit of comic stage business that somehow made it into the recording studio, but like "Tramp" it happens to be pretty funny, and the music cooks -- though someone ought to tell Bo that Texas does not count as South America, even if I lack the courage to do it myself.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Go Bo Diddley 1959 Hallmark Music & Entertainment 3:28
No Image 1981 Chess
No Image 1983 Chess
The Chess Box 1990 Chess 3:10
Cruisin' 1959 1991
Various Artists
Increase Records 3:39
His Best 1997 Chess 3:16
Basic Blues, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 3:13
Basic Blues, Vol. 1-3 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 3:13
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bo Diddley 2000 MCA 3:16
Rock & Roll: 50th Anniversary Collection 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 3:16
Chess Pieces: The Very Best of Chess Records 2005
Various Artists
Universal International 3:13
The Story of Bo Diddley: The Very Best of Bo Diddley 2006 Universal International 3:12
The Definitive Collection 2007 Geffen / Chess 3:16
I'm a Man 2007 Hip-o Select 3:14
Rock N' Roll Legends 2008 Chess 3:15
Road Runner: The Chess Masters 1959-1960 2008 Geffen / Hip-O Select
The Legendary Bo Diddley 2013 Geffen 3:12
Greatest Hits 2017 10Ten Media / Zebralution