The first time I heard Howlin’ Wolf was on a compilation of Chess Records blues artists that I bought from Borders when I was either 14 or 15, which I bought mostly because it was super cheap and because it included a song by John Lee Hooker. It also had the Howlin’ Wolf song “Smokestack Lightnin,’” which at the time didn’t do much for me. Years later I picked up Howlin’ Wolf / Moanin’ in the Moonlight (his first two albums packaged together on one CD), and listening to it was like taking a shot to the gut. I don’t know what happened over the years, but suddenly the songs had a kind of dark energy and grit that was instantly magnetic. One track, “You’ll Be Mine,” stuck out especially. In the hands of any other artist, the song would sound like an optimistic, sweet guy imploring the woman of his dreams to give him a chance. But Howlin’ Wolf turns the lyrics sinister and threatening and suddenly you start thinking the song isn’t about love at all. It’s about assault. And not the fun kind. Enjoy!
Howlin’ Wolf – You’ll Be Mine
Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightning
posted by Adam