Track #1 from the album The Real Folk Blues
Main Author's Notes
RubyDangers pick for the SOG Community Pack 01
"Mannish Boy" is a blues standard by Muddy Waters. First recorded in 1955, the song is both an arrangement of and an "answer song" to Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man", which was in turn inspired by Waters' and Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man". "Mannish Boy" features a repeating stop-time figure on one chord throughout the song and is credited to Waters, Mel London, and Bo Diddley.
Although the song contains sexual boasting, its repetition of "I'm a man, I spell M, A child, N" was understood as political. Waters had recently left the South for Chicago. "Growing up in the South, African-Americans [would] never be referred to as a man – but as 'boy'. In this context, the song [is] an assertion of black manhood."
I have listened to this song at least once a week for the past 30 years. It is a staple in my mind as it should be. And there is a 90% chance that whatever you are listening to now, can be 7 degrees of Kevin Baconed back to Muddy Waters.