Who Do You Love?
|"Who Do You Love?"|
|Single by Bo Diddley|
|from the album Bo Diddley|
|Format||10" 78 rpm & 7" 45 rpm record|
|Recorded||Chicago, March 24, 1956|
|Genre||Rock and roll, R&B|
|Writer(s)||Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley|
|Producer||Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Bo Diddley|
"Who Do You Love?" is a song by American rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley and one of his most popular and enduring works. It is an upbeat rocker with readily identifiable lyrics which he wrote and recorded in 1956. "Who Do You Love?" was part of Bo Diddley's repertoire throughout his career and has been interpreted and recorded by numerous musicians.
"Who Do You Love?" is one of Bo Diddley's strongest lyrical efforts. It has been called "an enduring lyric archetype on the order of [Chuck Berry's] "Johnny B. Goode" and [Willie Dixon's] "Hoochie Coochie Man". The lyrics relate a Louisiana/Mississippi hoodoo theme, but "transplanted to the [American] Southwest":
- I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, use a cobra snake for a neck tie
- Got a brand new house on the roadside, made from rattlesnake hide
- I got a brand new chimney made on top, made from a human skull
- Now come on baby let's take a little walk, and tell me "who do you love?..."
The hoodoo appears to work: "Arlene took me by my hand, she said 'oo-ee daddy I understand', who do you love?..."
Musically, "Who Do You Love?" is an uptempo song centered around one-chord with guitar flourishes complementing the vocals. It has a strong rhythm, but unlike later interpretations, it does not use the signature Bo Diddley beat. Instead the song uses a "modified cut shuffle beat" or 2/4 time, giving it an almost rockabilly feel, similar to Chuck Berry's "Maybellene".
"Who Do You Love?" was recorded in Chicago on March 12, 1956, one year after his debut recording, the self-titled "Bo Diddley". Joining Bo Diddley (vocal and guitar) was Jody Williams, who contributed the distinctive "stinging" guitar lines, along with his long-time percussionist Jerome Green (maracas) and Frank Kirkland or Clifton James (drums). The song was released as a single on Checker Records, a Chess Records subsidiary, and included on his first compilation album, Bo Diddley, released in 1958. "Who Do You Love?" appears on numerous later compilations, including His Best.
Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks
Rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins recorded a notable version of "Who Do You Love?" in 1963. His arrangement generally follows Bo Diddley's, with Hawkin's vocal "low and hard, achieveing all that rock 'n' roll could do". Hawkins was backed by his 1963 band the Hawks, who went on to tour with Bob Dylan and become the Band. "Who Do You Love?" was one of Hawkins' last singles for Roulette Records.
The Hawks' Robbie Robertson's guitar work on "Who Do You Love?" has been described as "a good few years ahead of its time in its manic distorted intensity". Music author Robert Palmer likened Robertson's solos to the explosive style of blues guitarist Willie Johnson, who was a key player in Howlin' Wolf's early sound. However, to author Charlie Gillett "Robertson's guitar style did not imitate any particular previous guitarist" and added "five years later, many guitarists were trying in vain for comparable effects".
In 1976, Hawkins performed it with the Band for The Last Waltz concert film and album, this time with a Bo Diddley-style beat, as the song had by this time been identified with that beat.
Quicksilver Messenger Service
|"Who Do You Love"|
Single sleeve of French Capitol release.
|Single by Quicksilver Messenger Service|
|from the album Happy Trails|
|B-side||"Which Do You Love"|
|Format||7" 45 rpm record|
|Recorded||Fillmore East, New York City and/or Fillmore West, San Francisco 1968|
|Length||3:35 single version|
Nineteen sixties San Francisco psychedelic rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service made "Who Do You Love" a feature of their live performances. During the group's early days in 1966 and 1967 with singer/harmonica player Jim Murray, the song was performed with a relatively concise blues-rock arrangement featuring a Bo Diddley-style beat and harmonica and guitar solos. At least one studio recording was attempted by Quicksilver in 1967 during the recording sessions that led to their first album, Quicksilver Messenger Service and was officially released on the album Unreleased Quicksilver Messenger Service – Lost Gold and Silver. At just less than six minutes, it is fairly representative of their early performances.
However, by mid-1968 "Who Do You Love" became a "template upon which to hang long instrumental guitar improvisations, [with] the tempo and the melody of the original tune all but disappearing". A twenty-five minute adaptation was included on Quicksilver's second album, Happy Trails that was edited from 1968 recordings at the Fillmore East and/or Fillmore West. Their song has been described as an "epic ... split into ensemble introduction and coda [with] four distinct sections" for instrumental exploration by each of the band members. For some, it represents the excesses of psychedelic rock and others see it as an improvisational tour de force. Rock music critic Greil Marcus described "Who Do You Love" as "one of the best rock'n'roll recordings to emerge from San Francisco [and] some of the finest hard rock ever recorded".
"Who Do You Love" is composed of sections to create a six-part suite that "weave[s] into and back out of the main theme". The first and last sections, titled "Who Do You Love Parts 1 and 2", are the most Bo Diddley-anchored sections of the song with vocals and a Bo Diddley-beat backing arrangement. The second section features a jazz-influenced guitar solo by Gary Duncan and interplay with guitarist John Cipollina, while the third deconstructs into guitar effects and ambient audience sounds. The fourth section returns to the Bo Diddley theme with a guitar solo by Cipollina, described as "distinctive, quivering, vibrato-heavy playing" with the band delivering a solid backing. The fifth section highlights David Freiberg's bass lines and the sixth section is the coda with vocal and harmonies.
At over twenty-five minutes, "Who Do You Love" was too long for commercial radio airplay. An edited 3:35 single version was released which reached #91 in the pop Hot 100 record chart in 1969. The Happy Trails record album, with the song taking up the entire first side, became a best seller at #27 in the album chart, also in 1969.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers
In 1978, American blues-rock singer/guitarist George Thorogood and the Destroyers recorded "Who Do You Love?" for their second album, Move It on Over. In contrast to Quicksilver Messenger Service, Thorogood's punchy 4:21 rendition is more suited to a sweaty tavern than a psychedelic ballroom. The song is propelled by a "pounding" Bo Diddley-beat, with Thorogood's "nasty slide [guitar] playing and barstool blues vocals". In addition to Bo Diddley's lyrics, he included: "Snakeskin shoes baby put 'em on your feet, got the good time music with a Bo Diddley beat".
The song became an FM rock radio staple and one of Thorogood's most identifiable songs and biggest hits. "Who Do You Love?" continues to be a part of his repertoire, with several live recordings, including for his 30th Anniversary Tour: Live album and video.
Recognition and influence
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bo Diddley's original song at #133 on their list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time", noting that "who do" is a homonym of "hoodoo". A Grammy Hall of Fame Award followed in 2010.
"Who Do You Love?" has been interpreted and recorded by numerous musicians. A proto-psychedelic version by the Misunderstood was recorded in 1966 and released as the B-side to "I Can Take You to the Sun" on Fontana Records; guitarist Glenn Ross Campbell later reworked "Who Do You Love" in his later band Juicy Lucy, which reached #14 in the UK record chart. A short list of other recordings include those by The Preachers, the Woolies, Tom Rush, Brownsville Station, the Doors, Carlos Santana, Blues Project, Blues Magoos, Roy Head, and John Hammond Jr.
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- Koda, Cub. "Who Do You Love? — Song Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- The Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. 1995. pp. 239–241. ISBN 0–79355–259–1.
- Schnieders 1986, p. 2.
- Gillett 1972, p. 121.
- Unterberger, Richie. "The Best of Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks — Album Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- Palmer 1981, p. 236.
- Unterberger 1999, p. 4
- Planer, Linsay. "Happy Trails — Album Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- Irvin 2007, p. 157.
- Sendra, Tim. "Who Do You Love? — George Thorogood & the Destroyers Album Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- "What's now almost a cliche then sounded fresh and vital". Wynn, Ron. "Move It on Over — Album Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock — Album Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
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- Gillett, Charlie (1972). The Sound of the City. Dell Publishing Co.
- Irvin, Jim (2007). The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion (4th. ed.). Canongate Books. ISBN 978–184195–973–3.
- Palmer, Robert (1981). Deep Blues. Penguin Books. ISBN 0–14006–223–8.
- Schnieders, Bob (1986). Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley — Two on One (Media notes). Bo Diddley. MCA/Chess Records. CHD–5904.
- Unterberger, Richie (1999). Unreleased Quicksilver Messenger Service – Lost Gold and Silver (Media notes). EMI/Capitol Records. CCM–109–2.