Wang Dang Doodle

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"Wang Dang Dooodle"
Single by Howlin' Wolf
B-side "Back Door Man"
Released 1961 (1961)
Format 7" 45 rpm record
Recorded Chess Studios, Chicago, June 1960
Genre Blues
Length 2:20
Label Chess (cat. no. 1777)
Writer(s) Willie Dixon
Producer(s) Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Willie Dixon
Howlin' Wolf singles chronology
"Spoonful"
(1960)
"Wang Dang Doodle"
(1961)
"Down in the Bottom"

"Wang Dang Doodle" is a blues song written by Willie Dixon. Music critic Mike Rowe calls it a party song in an urban style with its massive, rolling, exciting beat.[1] It was first recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1960 and released by Chess Records in 1961. In 1965, Dixon and Leonard Chess persuaded Koko Taylor to record it for Checker Records, a Chess subsidiary. Taylor's rendition quickly became a hit, reaching number thirteen in the Billboard R&B chart as well as number 58 in the pop chart.[2] "Wang Dang Doodle" became a blues standard[3] with recordings by a variety of artists.[4]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Wang Dang Doodle" was composed by Willie Dixon during the second part of his songwriting career from 1959 to 1964.[5] During this period, he wrote many of his best-known songs, including "Back Door Man", "Spoonful", "The Red Rooster" (better-known as "Little Red Rooster"), "I Ain't Superstitious", "You Shook Me", "You Need Love" (adapted by Led Zeppelin for "Whole Lotta Love"), and "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover".[5] In his autobiography, Dixon explained that the phrase "wang dang doodle" "meant a good time, especially if the guy came in from the South. A wang dang meant having a ball and a lot of dancing, they called it a rocking style so that's what it meant to wang dang doodle".[5] Rowe writes that Dixon's song is based on "an old lesbian song" – "The Bull Daggers Ball" – with "its catalogue of low-life characters only marginally less colurful that the original".[6] Dixon claimed that he wrote it when he first heard Howlin' Wolf in 1951 or 1952, but that it was "too far in advance" for him and he saved it for later.[7] However, Wolf supposedly hated the song and commented, "Man, that's too old-timey, sound[s] like some old levee camp number":[8]

Tell Automatic slim, to tell razor totin' Jim
To tell butcher knife totin' Annie, to tell fast talkin' Fannie ...
We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long[9]

Howlin' Wolf recorded the song in June 1960 in Chicago during the same sessions that produced "Back Door Man" and "Spoonful".[10] Backing Howlin' Wolf on vocals are Otis Spann on piano, Hubert Sumlin on guitar, Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums.[11] Freddy King has also been identified as possibly a second guitarist.[12] In 1961, Chess issued the song as the B-side to "Back Door Man", however, neither song appeared in the record charts.[13] Both songs are included on Howlin' Wolf's popular 1962 compilation album Howlin' Wolf, also called The Rockin' Chair Album[14] and many subsequent compilations.

Later renditions and legacy[edit]

On June 30, 1964, Willie Dixon brought Koko Taylor to Chess Records, where she recorded "What Kind of Man Is That?". During her next session on December 7, 1965, she recorded "Wang Dang Doodle". Backing Koko Taylor on vocals are Gene Barge and Donald Hawkins on saxophones, Lafayette Leake on piano, Buddy Guy and Johnny "Twist" Williams on guitars, Jack Meyers on bass guitar, Fred Below on drums, and Willie Dixon singing with Koko.[15] Koko's version was released in early 1966 and peaked at number four on Billboard magazine's R&B Singles chart and number 58 on the Hot 100.[16] In 1995, her rendition was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the "Classics of Blues Recording – Singles or Album Tracks" category.[17] The Foundation noted that the song was the last blues single produced by Dixon to reach the record charts and "became Koko Taylor's signature crowdpleaser, inspiring singalongs to the 'all night long' refrain night after night."[17]

The Pointer Sisters' version of "Wang Dang Doodle" was released as the follow-up single to "Yes We Can Can" and was also released on their self-titled debut album. The single peaked at #24 on the R&B Singles chart and #61 on the Hot 100.[18] On February 13, 2011 "Wang Dang Doodle" was performed at the pre-broadcast ceremonies of the 53rd Grammy Awards by vocalists Cyndi Lauper, Maria Muldaur, Mavis Staples and Betty Wright; the number also featured guitarists Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The town of Forest, Mississippi (pronounced "Forced"), home to several poultry processing plants, hosts the annual "Wing Dang Doodle Festival". The festival features a variety of blues music performances and other events such as a Buffalo wing cook-off and the "Wing Dang Dash", a five-kilometer run/walk.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rowe 1973, pp. 170–173.
  2. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 404.
  3. ^ Herzhaft 1992, p. 477.
  4. ^ "Song Search Results for Wang Dang Doodle". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Dixon 1989, p. 143.
  6. ^ Rowe 1973, p. 172.
  7. ^ Dixon 1989, p. 149.
  8. ^ Dixon 1989, p. 88.
  9. ^ Dixon 1989, p. 120.
  10. ^ Shurman 1989, p. 29.
  11. ^ Surman 1991, p. 29.
  12. ^ Shurman 1991, p. 29.
  13. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 198.
  14. ^ Shurman 1991, p. 27.
  15. ^ Chess Blues 1947-1967 (CD notes). Various artists. United States: MCA Records/Chess Records. 1992. CHD4-9340. 
  16. ^ "Koko Taylor - Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b "Classics of Blues Recording – Singles and Album Tracks". Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Winners. The Blues Foundation. 1995. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Pointer Sisters - Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 

References[edit]