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Album: Best Of Eddie FloydReleased: 1966Charted:
This was Eddie Floyd's biggest hit. He wrote the song with Stax Records guitarist Steve Cropper in the Lorraine Motel, which is where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Working late at night, they came up with the famous line, "It's like thunder, lightning, the way you love me is frightening" when Floyd told Cropper a story about how he and his brother would ride out the storms in Alabama.
"In Alabama, man, there's like thunder and lightning," he told Cropper. "We'd hide under the bed because we'd be frightened of the thunder and lightning."
Cropper liked this phrase and came up with the famous line.
The saying "Knock On Wood" is used to express gratitude for good fortune while humbly acknowledging that it might not continue: "My back has been feeling better ever since I gave up spearfishing... knock on wood." This is often accompanied by the speaker actually tapping on any nearby (and preferably wooden) surface.
In the song, Eddie Floyd is knocking on wood because he's so lucky to have found the girl of his dreams.
This song has one of the most effective pauses in music history: After Floyd sings, "I better knock," there's some space before drummer Al Jackson comes in with with his drumbeats and Floyd completes the line with "on wood."
This section wasn't planned - Jackson came up with the idea of putting the pause in and simulating the sound of knocking on a door to break up the line. This little flourish made the song very memorable.
A disco version by Amii Stewart was a #1 hit in 1979. It was the only hit for Stewart, who was also a dancer and actress - she starred in the Broadway musical Bubbling Brown Sugar
. The innovative arrangement of her version inspired Jay Graydon's production of The Manhattan Transfer's "The Boy From New York City
Says Graydon: "There was a re-release of 'Knock On Wood' that was fantastic. And some guy played a triplet guitar part in it. I decided to borrow the idea because professionals borrow where amateurs steal. (laughs) So I was borrowing the concept… with different notes that I played, of course, And that was the secondary hook of the song." (read more in our interview with Jay Graydon
This song was written for another Stax artist: Otis Redding. Floyd recorded the song as a demo, and the company was so impressed with his version that they decided to use his version.
Redding did record record the song as a duet with Carla Thomas (credited to "Otis & Carla"). Their version went to #30 in 1967.
Ringo Starr said at the 2011 Mojo Awards this is his favorite song ever.
This song confused British listeners a bit, as the phrase "knock on wood" in not in their vernacular. In England, the expression is "touch wood."
According to Eddie Floyd, it was Isaac Hayes, a regular at Stax Records, who came up with the bridge, which ended up being played on a saxophone.
The soul singer Tyrone Davis released a slower version of this song in 1969 on his album Can I Change My Mind.