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“Hound Dog was written by 2 Jewish composers, Leiber and Stoller. Big Mama Thorton was an American R&B singer and songwriter. In 1952 she was the first to record Leiber and Stoller’s “Hound Dog”, which became her biggest hit. Elvis Presley is a more well-known name and therefore when he covered “Hound Dog” in 1956, it became a worldwide hit. Elvis Presley was an American singer and was even said to be the “King of Rock and Roll”. “Hound Dog” originally was not “rock & roll”, it was “blues”. It’s originally meant to show female rage at a man who played her. 

However, Elvis’ cover diluted the meaning of the song. Big Mama Thorton was singing to a man, while Elvis was singing to a dog. He didn’t use the original lyrics, he chose to use the “Freddie and The Bell Boys” version of the lyrics.

In Big Mama Thorton’s version, she sang it with a screaming blues intensity. She sings it slower like in 0:23-0:27 when she sings “You told me you was high class”. 

Elvis however sang it at a faster tempo and added different instruments like the drums. Like in 0:16-0:20 you hear the powerful drums and Elvis saying “Well they said you were high class” really fast. With Elvis’ version, you can dance more and faster to it. It doesn’t have the anger that the original Big Mama’s version has. They are similar because they have similar lyrics and they both use guitar in their versions. They are different because the tempo is different, Elvis’ version has more instruments, and the meanings of the versions are different.

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July 2024

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