Bo Diddley: Say Man (1958)

 |   |  1 min read

Bo Diddley: Say Man (1958)

The late Bo Diddley was perhaps best known for that distinctive self-titled riff that he bequeathed to rock. He used it on a number of songs -- Hey Bo Diddley, Pretty Thing, Hush Your Mouth and others -- and it came into rock with Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, the Downliners Sect's Be A Sect Maniac and Sect Appeal and many others.

Bo referred to it as his "shave and a haircut, six bits" beat (say it repeatedly, leaving a pause at the comma) but he had many others sides to his music.

Not the least was when he worked with his longtime percussion player Jerome Green (as he does here) on songs grounded in a Southern tradition of children's games where insults were exchanged.

The style is known as "playing the dozens" (eg "Your mama's so fat, when she sits around the house, she sits around the house") but of course became increasing rough-edged when adults in a big city like Chicago used it. And were often the precursors to a physical scrap.

Say Man, delivered like a street corner conversation, is firmly in the tradition and one of the first examples of dozens in the blues, and by its style it has lead some to say to anticipated rap.

Maybe, maybe not. It's certainly kinda fun and rides a Haitian/Cuban rhythm for extra pleasure and impact.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Bernard Butler: Woman I Know (1998)

Bernard Butler: Woman I Know (1998)

Was it Bob Dylan who said something to the effect, "amateurs borrow, professionals steal"? Not to encourage plagiarism, but Bernard Butler certainly took a leaf or two -- if not a... > Read more

Elton Motello: Jet Boy Jet Girl (1978)

Elton Motello: Jet Boy Jet Girl (1978)

Most people have heard Belgian faux-punk Plastic Bertrand's one-off single Ca Plane pour moi of '77 (see clip). Fewer will have heard this bastard half-sister version by the UK rock'n'roll punk... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Katie Melua: The House (Dramatico)

Katie Melua: The House (Dramatico)

Those who have followed Melua's career might be a little surprised by this outing -- and if you haven't then this might be the album to tune in for: dramatic, dark, hypnotic, cabaret-noir, lovely... > Read more

CHARLES LLOYD; ARROWS INTO INFINITY, a doco by DOROTHY BARR and JEFFREY MORSE

CHARLES LLOYD; ARROWS INTO INFINITY, a doco by DOROTHY BARR and JEFFREY MORSE

A very odd thing happened a few years ago when I was offered an interview with the great jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd in advance of a New Zealand concert. I agreed immediately because after... > Read more