I'm Ready (blues song)

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"I'm Ready"
Single by Muddy Waters
B-side "I Don't Know Why"
Released 1954 (1954)
Format 7-inch 45 rpm & 10-inch 78 rpm record
Recorded Chicago, September 1, 1954
Genre Blues
Length 3:03
Label Chess (no. 1579)
Songwriter(s) Willie Dixon
Producer(s) Leonard Chess, Phil Chess
Muddy Waters singles chronology
"Just Make Love To Me"
"I'm Ready"
"Natural Born Lover" / "Loving Man"

"I'm Ready" is a blues song written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954.[1] It was a hit, spending nine weeks on the Billboard R&B chart where it reached number four.[2] Since then, "I'm Ready" has been recorded by numerous blues and other artists.[3]

Composition and recording[edit]

"I'm Ready" was inspired by a comment by Muddy Waters prior to a gig, when harmonica player Willie Foster visited him at home. As Foster recalled,

I knocked on the door, and he was shaving. He said "You here? I told you to come tomorrow." I said, "Yeah, but I'm here today." While drinking, Waters ribbed Foster for bringing a suitcase for a weekend. He said, "I mean you ready!" And I said, "Ready as anybody can be!" He popped his finger and turned to Willie Dixon and said, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That's a record, man!"[4]

Dixon proceeded to write a song and "I'm Ready" was completed within about three days.[5] The lyrics continue the use of swagger and supernatural imagery found in Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man", which Waters recorded in January 1954:

I gotta ax handle pistol, on a graveyard frame
That shoots tombstone bullets, wearing balls and chain
I'm drinkin' TNT, smokin' dynamite
I hope some screwball, start a fight[4]

In addition to the lyrical theme, "I'm Ready" incorporates a stop-time sixteen-bar structure analogous to "Hoochie Coochie Man". The song was recorded September 1, 1954, by Waters on vocal and guitar, accompanied by Little Walter on chromatic harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Otis Spann on piano, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums.[6]


Chess Records issued the song as single in late 1954, with "I Don't Know Why" as the B-side". In 1958, it was included on Muddy Waters' first album, The Best of Muddy Waters (1958).[6]

Muddy Waters later re-recorded the song for his albums Fathers and Sons (1969) and The London Muddy Waters Sessions (1971).[6] In 1978, he re-recorded it for the title track to his album I'm Ready. The album, which was produced by Johnny Winter, earned Waters a Grammy in 1978.[7]


Over the years, "I'm Ready" has been recorded by a variety of blues and other artists, including:[3] Humble Pie from the Humble Pie album (1970), Long John Baldry on his album It Ain't Easy (1971), Buddy Guy from the album Hold That Plane (1972), Stars, from their album, Land of Fortune (1977), The Red Devils from King King (1992), Paul Rodgers with Brian May from Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters (1993), George Thorogood from Haircut (1993), Aerosmith from Honkin' on Bobo (2004), and Jeff Healey from Songs from the Road (2009). Freddie King's brother and bandmate, Benny Turner, also recorded this song and it appears on his 2017 release My Brother's Blues - a tribute to Freddie.[8]


  1. ^ Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "I'm Ready". Encyclopedia of the Blues. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press. p. 454. ISBN 1-55728-252-8. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 435. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  3. ^ a b "Song search results for I'm Ready". AllMusic. Retrieved October 13, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Janovitz, Bill. "Muddy Waters: I'm Ready – Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved July 17, 2017. 
  5. ^ Gordon, Robert (2002). Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters. New York City: Little, Brown. pp. 132–133. ISBN 0-316-32849-9. 
  6. ^ a b c Palmer, Robert (1989). Muddy Waters: Chess Box (Box set booklet). Muddy Waters. Universal City, California: Chess Records/MCA Records. pp. 26–28. OCLC 154264537. CHD3-80002. 
  7. ^ "GRAMMY Award Results for Muddy Waters". Grammy.org. 1978. Retrieved October 31, 2009. 
  8. ^ Benny Turner, My Brother's Blues, retrieved 2018-05-07