|Single by John Lee Hooker|
|Format||10" 78 rpm & 7" 45 rpm record|
|Recorded||Chicago, March 1956|
|Label||Vee-Jay (no. 205)|
|Songwriter(s)||John Lee Hooker, James Bracken|
|John Lee Hooker singles chronology|
"Dimples" is a song written and recorded by blues singer-songwriter John Lee Hooker in 1956. It is an ensemble piece, with Hooker accompanied by Jimmy Reed's backup band. Eight years after its first release, it became Hooker's first record to appear in the British record charts. Called a "genuine Hooker classic" by music critic Bill Dahl, it is one of his best-known songs, with interpretations by several artists.
Recording and composition
"Dimples" was one of the first songs recorded by John Lee Hooker for Vee-Jay Records. Unlike his previous record labels, Vee-Jay producers saw Hooker as a Jimmy Reed-style performer and in fact provided him with Reed's backup band for two recording sessions in 1955 and 1956. However, when the recording commenced, it became apparent that Hooker's sense of rhythm and timing was uniquely his. The backing musicians – guitarist Eddie Taylor, bassist George Washington, and drummer Tom Whitehead – adapted to his style and by the time "Dimples" was recorded they became "adept at anticipating his capricious moves".
According to music historian Ted Gioia, "Dimples" is a moderate-tempo blues that "sounds like a twelve-bar blues with a few beats amputated ... imparting a lopsided feeling ... [that] was precisely the 'hook' that gave the song its odd appeal". Hooker has given at least two different accounts about what inspired the lyrics: in one, he claimed to have written the song about a friend's wife and another where the subject is his own girlfriend. Music critic Charles Shaar Murray commented that although "Dimples" just "skimmed the lower reaches of the R&B charts and nudged its way into the pop listings ... it's about as close to pop perfection in two minutes and nine seconds as any '50s bluesman ever got".
Releases and charts
Eight years after its initial release, "Dimples" was issued in the UK in 1964, where it reached number 23 in the pop chart. In 1970, John Lee Hooker recorded "Dimples" with slightly different lyrics as "I Got My Eyes on You" with Canned Heat for the album Hooker 'n Heat (in 1966, Canned Heat recorded a demo of "Dimples" that was later released on Vintage). During the sessions for Hooker's Boom Boom and Chill Out albums in 1992 and 1995, two attempts at recording "Dimples" with guest performers were made, but were not released. However, a version with Los Lobos was recorded and released on Hooker's 1997 Grammy Award-winning album Don't Look Back.
Recording by other artists
"Dimples" was chosen by the Spencer Davis Group as their May 1964 debut single (Fontana UK TF 471), which was later released on I'm a Man (United Artists US UAL 3859); and their 1965 UK release Their First LP (Fontana TL 5242). The song was also recorded in 1964 by the Animals and different versions appeared on the albums The Animals (UK, length 3:20) and The Animals on Tour (US, length 3:15).
Among those who later recorded the song are Smokey Wilson (88th Street Blues 1983), Pianosaurus (self-titled album, 1987), the Allman Brothers Band (Dreams released 1989) & (Live at Ludlow Garage released 1991), James Blood Ulmer (Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions 2001), and Doyle Bramhall (Fitchburg Street 2003).
- Murray, Charles Shaar (2002). Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century. St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 191–192. ISBN 978-0-312-27006-3.
- Although the Vee-Jay single label lists the running time as 2:57, most album reissues list 2:11–2:15.
- Dahl, Bill (1996). Erlewine, Michael, ed. John Lee Hooker. All Music Guide to the Blues. Miller Freeman Books. p. 116. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.
- Gioia, Ted (2008). Delta Blues. W. W. Norton. pp. 253–254. ISBN 978-0-393-33750-1.
- "John Lee Hooker – Singles". Official Charts. Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 30, 2011.