The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Honky Covers: Hound Dog

A lot of people don’t like when musicians do covers of others’ songs, but I do.   Sometimes it’s done tongue-in-cheek, but most often they do it because they love the song or are inspired by the artist in some way.  It’s interesting when they cover something from a different genre and put their own spin on it.  It’s even MORE interesting when some of the whitest, non-funky people around cover R&B and Hip Hop.

The last Honky Cover saw the first victory for the white folks, with Talkin Heads’ Take Me to the River besting Al Green’s original.  Let’s see if they can get a streak going.


Honky Covers have been around for a very long time.   Let’s face it, black people had a long history of getting the shaft in the entertainment industry.  (Obviously, their getting the shaft extends way past the entertainment industry…)  Up until the 1950s, unless they were Nat King Cole or Louis Armstrong, black people weren’t going to be nationally famous.   A bigger indignity was that a lot of the famous black people in entertainment weren’t actually… you know… black.


While there was a market for black music, it needed someone with a “broader appeal” (translated = white) to expand it.   That’s where Elvis Presley came in to shatter the barrier with his version of “That’s Alright” that put him in the spotlight.   People hearing it on the radio just assumed he was black, but when he turned out to white he became even more popular in suburbia.

Even though the music was still great, it’s a pretty sad commentary on race relations.  But what’s even sadder is that the same thing’s happening today with Sam Smith.


Yes, he’s white.


On one side…

Not only did Elvis help bring down the race barrier, he also was the first huge rock star as sex symbol.   He sent shockwaves through the good moral communities of America this performance of “Hound Dog” on the the Milton Berle Show:


The bouncing around and gyrating was bad enough, but it was when he slowed down in the middle of the song and started hip-thrusting that scared authorities.


On the other side…

But did you know “Hound Dog” was a cover?  Big Mama Thornton recorded it a few years earlier –



The winner…

Damn.  I can’t chose.   Musically, I’d have to go with Big Mama Thornton belting it out.  But c’mon, Elvis’ stage show was revolutionary.   I have to give it to The King…


Who do you think won?



About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

7 comments on “Honky Covers: Hound Dog

  1. Michelle Williams
    November 7, 2014

    Fun post. I think Sam Smith is lovely; he has a wonderful voice. Have you ever seen the movie “The Commitments?” If not, you MUST! You think the Talkin Heads do a good cover of Take Me to the River – you MUST see the movie. The soundtrack is simply fantastic.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      November 7, 2014

      Yeah, i rememver the movie. I was working at an irish oub in Chicago around that time and he soundtrack was constantly playing!

      • Michelle Williams
        November 7, 2014

        It fits perfectly with your article. A group of young Irish boys and girls singing American R&B. Interestingly enough in the Irish culture the eco/social demographic of the kids in the movie was equivalent to African Americans in our culture. So when the young man says “I’m black and I’m proud” he was not meaning what how most American interpret that line. He was not saying he has “soul” (musically speaking);; he was making a cultural statement. Great article! Have a great weekend.

  2. jjbiener
    November 10, 2014

    Personally, I much prefer the Big Mama Thornton version. Actually, the Elvis version is more than a little embarrassing. I appreciate what Elvis did in getting recognition for Black music, but his versions fail to live up to the originals. (Yes, I know there was a pun there, but I resisted.)

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2014 by in Music and tagged , , , , , .
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