Back Door Man

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"Back Door Man"
Single by Howlin' Wolf
A-side "Wang Dang Doodle"
Released 1961 (1961)
Format 7" 45 rpm record
Recorded Chess Studios, Chicago
June 1960
Genre Blues
Length 2:47
Label Chess (cat. no. 1777)
Writer(s) Willie Dixon
Producer(s) Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Willie Dixon
Howlin' Wolf singles chronology
"Spoonful"
(1960)
"Back Door Man"
(1961)
"Down in the Bottom"
(1961)

"Back Door Man" is a blues song written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1961. It was released by Chess Records as the B-side to Wolf's "Wang Dang Doodle" (catalog no. 1777). The song is considered a classic of Chicago blues.

Lyrics[edit]

In southern culture, the phrase "back-door man" refers to a man having an affair with a married woman, using the back door as an exit before the husband comes home.[1] "When everybody trying to sleep, I'm somewhere making my midnight creep / Every morning the rooster crow, something tell me I got to go / I am a back door man," Wolf sings. The promiscuous "back-door man" is a standard theme found in many blues, including those by Charley Patton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Willie McTell and Sara Martin: "every sensible woman got a back-door man," Martin wrote in "Strange Loving Blues" (1925).[2] Robert Plant references the Dixon song in Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" (1969): "Shake for me girl, I want to be your back-door man." and also in "Since I've Been Loving You" (1971): "You must have one of them new fangled back door men!"[3]

Music[edit]

The song was recorded in Chicago in June 1960 by Howlin' Wolf (vocals), Otis Spann (piano), Hubert Sumlin and Freddy Robinson (guitars), Willie Dixon (double bass), and Fred Below (drums).[4] The chord progression in the refrain of the song, similar to that found in Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" (1955), John Lee Hooker's "I'm Mad (Again)" (1957), and Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man" (1954), dates back to work songs sung during the construction of train tracks.[5] "Back Door Man" was included on the 1962 Wolf compilation album Howlin' Wolf. He re-recorded the song in November 1968 and it appeared on The Howlin' Wolf Album.

The Doors version[edit]

"Back Door Man"
Song by The Doors from the album The Doors
Released January 4, 1967
Recorded August 1966
Genre Psychedelic rock, blues rock[6]
Length 3:32
Label Elektra
Composer Willie Dixon, Chester Burnett
Producer Paul A. Rothchild
The Doors track listing
"Light My Fire"
(6)
"Back Door Man"
(7)
"I Looked at You"
(8)

The Doors recorded a rock version of the "Back Door Man" for their eponymous debut album. The Doors' drummer John Densmore described it as a song that is "deeply sexual and got everyone moving."[7] The song also appears on the Doors' live album Absolutely Live (1970).

Other versions[edit]

The song has also been recorded by Guy Mitchell, Chicken Shack, Blues Project, Shadows of Knight, Bob Weir, Sam Gopal, T-Model Ford, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Soul Asylum fronted by Iggy Pop at the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frank Marino, of the band Mahogany Rush, recorded it on Mahogany Rush Live. The song's author Willie Dixon recorded it for his 1970 album I Am the Blues. In 1984, "Back Door Man" was also covered by Viktor Lazlo. Eric Burdon performed it during his tour with ex-Doors-guitarist Robby Krieger in 1990/91.

The nickname "Back Door Man" was also attached to Dick Cheney while serving as White House Chief of Staff for Gerald Ford. The moniker is alleged to be in reference to Cheney's handling of Congressional negotiations and his aptitude for achieving his aims through often opaque means.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Segrest, James; & Hoffman, Mark (2005). Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 174. ISBN 1-56025-683-4.
  2. ^ Oliver, Paul (1990). Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues. Cambridge University Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-521-37793-5.
  3. ^ "Whole Lotta Love". Rolling Stone. December 9, 2004. Retrieved on February 16, 2008.[dead link]
  4. ^ Allmusic song review
  5. ^ Scott, Richard J. (2003). Chord Progressions for Songwriters. iUniverse. p. 110. ISBN 0-595-26384-4.
  6. ^ Davis, Stephen (2004). Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. Gotham Books. ISBN 1-59240-064-7.
  7. ^ Densmore, John (1991). Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. Dell Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 0-385-30447-1.
  8. ^ Mann, James (2004). Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet. New York, NY: Viking Adult. ISBN 0-670-03299-9. 

External links[edit]