Howlin' For You

Songfacts®:

  • This song is all about being besotted with a girl and "howlin'" for her: "I must admit, I can't explain any of these thoughts racing through my brain, it's true, baby I'm howlin' for you."

    Known for its infectious chorus of "Da da da da da, Da da da da da da," the song has a modern Blues sound. The Black Keys were heavily influenced by the Blues legend Howlin' Wolf, which explains the title.
  • This track gained popularity after The Black Keys unveiled its star-studded official video, directed by Chris Marrs Piliero. Presented in the style of a spaghetti-western movie trailer, the video stars Tricia Helfer (who played Number Six in sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica) as Alexa Wolff, a femme fatale who seduces then kills (or "bangs then hangs," to quote the video) the men who murdered her father when she was a little girl.

    The video also stars Sean Patrick Flanery, Diora Baird, snowboarder Shaun White, and Diff'rent Strokes actor Todd Bridges, who plays a rather lecherous priest!

    Also appearing in the clip is Frank, a puppet dinosaur who stars in the Black Keys video for "Next Girl."
  • "Howlin' For You" features on The Black Keys' sixth album, Brothers. Ten tracks on the album, including this one, were recorded in just 10 days at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, where the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Elton John have previously recorded. The studio's owner, Noel Webster, spoke to us about the recording process of Brothers: "We did roughs for them [The Black Keys]...They took some stuff and added some additional parts when they left here, percussion stuff and things like that."

    Webster said the sessions took a vintage approach: "Mark Neill did the production, and he and I discussed what pieces of equipment were going to be used, how they were going to be wired, mic placement, all that kind of stuff. And it's effortless to record in this building. We just used the same techniques that they used in the '50s and '60s and '70s. And that's what seems to work."

    According to Neill, who provided much of the equipment used at the sessions, the band tracked drums and bass first, with no guide vocal. This was a different approach for the band, and resulted in a more bass-heavy sound on this this track and also on "Next Girl," "Sinister Kid" and "Everlasting Light." Here's more about the Black Keys trip to Muscle Shoals.
  • Brothers was a critical and commercial success, debuting at #3 on the US chart. In 2011, it won the Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Recording Package, while the single "Tighten Up" won the award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
  • This song starts with a drum beat similar to the one popularized in the Gary Glitter song "Rock And Roll Part 2." The duo would often play the song as a faster tempo when they did it live, as Patrick Carney, juiced from adrenaline on stage, would play the drums a lot faster than what's heard in the studio version.
  • The Black Keys sued Pinnacle Entertainment in January 2013, claiming this song was used in in a couple of ad spots for their casinos without permission. Pinnacle's defense was that their commercial used music purchased from Manhattan Production Music, a company which makes tunes for commercial advertising, and it was a licensed musical interpretation rather than a copy of this tune. This was not the first time the US duo had been caught up in a legal wrangle over their songs - in November 2012 they sued both Pizza Hut and Home Depot over similar allegations.
  • In 2017, this was used in commercials for the Samsung Galaxy Note8.

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