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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Animal Music Monday: “Little Red Rooster”

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 30, 2016

Sometimes I suspect that songs about animals are really songs about people, only slightly disguised.

But you will be shocked, shocked, as I am I, that some callow writer would interpret a gentle barnyard ditty like “Little Red Rooster,” made famous in 1961 by the Chicago blues singer Howlin’ Wolf, as the “most overtly phallic song since Blind Lemon Jefferson’s ‘Black Snake Moan'” in 1927.

And, wait, wait, wasn’t Blind Lemon really singing about his ophidophobic nightmare of a snake loose in the bedroom? And when he finishes with “Black snake mama done run my darlin’ home,” that’s about a strong woman coming to the rescue, right? I mean, with a broom or something?

Some British Invasion rock group later picked up “Little Red Rooster” and had a hit.  But let’s go with an upbeat version from 1963 by Sam Cooke, which includes some interesting musical imitations of dogs barking and howling.  (P.S.  That part is really about dogs.) :

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