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Famous Blues Covers/Renditions: Howlin' Wolf, "Fourty-Four"







Howlin’ Wolf, Little Johnny Jones (on the piano), Andrew McMahon at Silvio’s, 1964.
Photo by Ray Flerlage


Famous Blues Covers/Renditions

"Forty-Four" or "44 Blues" is a blues song whose origins have been traced back to early 1920s Louisiana. However, it was Roosevelt Sykes, who provided the lyrics and first recorded it in 1929, that helped popularize the song. "Forty-Four", through numerous adaptations and recordings, remains in the blues lexicon eighty years later.

In October 1954, the great Howlin 'Wolf recorded his version, titled "Forty-Four", as an electric Chicago blues ensemble piece. Unlike the early versions of the song, Wolf's recording featured prominent guitar lines and an insistent "martial shuffle on the snare drum plus a bass drum that slammed down like an industrial punch-press", according to biographers.Wolf retained Sykes' handgun reference and added "Well I'm so mad this morning, I don't know where in the world to go".

Backing Wolf, who sang and played harmonica, there were wonderful and historical musicians: Hubert Sumlin and Jody Williams on electric guitars, Otis Spann on piano, Willie Dixon on bass, and Earl Phillips on drums.




 
Here below Roosevelt Sykes rendition.

                                         


"I wore my forty-four so long

They made my shoulder sore
I wore my forty-four so long
They made my shoulder sore
While I'm goin' down the valley
We might leave these stones

Well, I'm so mad this mornin'
I don't know where in the world to go
But I'm so mad this mornin'
I don't know where in the world to go
What I wanna get is some money
I just got to have to go

I wore my forty-four so long
They made my shoulder sore
I wore my forty-four so long
They done made my shoulder sore
While I'm goin' down the valley
We might leave these stones."

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