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This song, written and performed by Ohio bluesman Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, is given a rock redo by Creedance Clearwater Revival. Does John Fogerty’s thick and gravely voice hold up to Hawkins’ oh so creepy, guttural and passionate bellowing? Do you think CCR’s cover compares to the offhanded and disarming brilliance of the original (Hawkins admits to feasting on fried chicken, lots of beer, and obviously some whatchamacallit, during the recording session)? If the last ten seconds of Hawkins’ macabre classic doesn’t make you squirm, nothing will.

Other artists who have recorded this song include: the glorious-can-do-no-wrong-in-my-book Nina Simone, The Animals, Bette Midler, Estelle, The Kills, Queen Latifah, and Ray Charles.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, was quite a complex character. One of the forefathers of shock rock,  Hawkins spawned 75 children (it’s speculated), stole a couple of songs from experimental artist Tom Waits, performed his infamous “Constipation Blues“on a toilet at the Taste of Chicago festival, earned a  middleweight boxing champion title from Alaska, and moved to Paris later in his life where he died at age 70. Where else is there to go after such a vagabond approach to a music career?

Here’s the intro for “Constipation Blues

“Ladies and Gentlemen most people record songs about love, heartbreak, loneliness, being broke, nobody’s actually went out and recorded a song about being in real pain. The band and I have just returned from the general hospital where we caught a man in the right position. We named this song constipation blues.”

The two lone horns at the song’s beginning mimic the sound of someone passing gas. Is it off-putting? Yes. Well, it depends on your sensitivity level.  Is it soused in crudeness? Yes. But it’s, at least, hilarious and thought-provoking material. This type of music abandons convention with no remorse. It’s not for the faint of heart. When was the last time a music made you think?  Can you imagine a major label signing an artist like this today?

This is art. Sometimes it’s not pretty.

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