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This is a traditional song that Folk singer Leadbelly popularized before his death in 1949. He recorded a lot of songs that otherwise might have been lost, including "Goodnight Irene
" and "Midnight Special
." Leadbelly's version is a cappella and commonly sung by laborers to pass the time while working.
Ram Jam were a short-lived band from New York City, and this was their only hit. While the lyrical content is pretty standard Folk/Blues material - about a black woman from Alabama who has a "wild" child, Ram Jam took some heat because some civil rights groups felt the lyrics were disrespectful to black women. While the lyrics can be deconstructed, Ram Jam's version is driven by the powerful beat and aggressive tempo, making it one of those songs that gets your heart beating faster. The song is commonly played at sporting events to pump up the crowd.
This was produced by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, who were architects of the Bubblegum Sound, producing groups like The Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company.
The Australian band Spiderbait recorded this in 2004. It was their first single to reach #1 on the Australian charts. (thanks, Lynne - Sydney, Australia)
A remixed version of this song is used in the 2002 movie Kung Pow: Enter The Fist when the main character fights the villain. (thanks, Frankie - Sarch, IN)
Shaun Morgan of Seether
Shaun breaks down the Seether songs, including the one about his brother, the one about Ozzy, and the one that may or may not be about his ex-girlfriend Amy Lee.
Reverend Horton Heat
The Reverend rants on psychobilly and the egghead academics he bashes in one of his more popular songs.
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Switchfoot's frontman and main songwriter on what inspires the songs and how he got the freedom to say exactly
what he means.