Hound Dog

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time.
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
And you ain’t no friend of mine.

The date was August 4, 1956 when Elvis Presley recorded this song. On the flip side of the recording was his “Don’t Be Cruel.” Both sides would share the top spot for 11 weeks. Hound Dog would be the song that started Elvis’s career in a new form of music to be known as Rock and Roll. With his commanding voice and charismatic stage presence Elvis Presley soon became the King of Rock and Roll and thrilled his audiences until his death in August of 1977. It was reported that Presley died of a heart attack at Graceland, his Memphis mansion. He was only 42 years old.
The term “Rock-and-Roll” was first used in 1951 by Alan Freed, a Cleveland disc jockey. He took the term from the song "My Baby Rocks Me with a Steady Roll". This new music evolved in the 1950's from rhythm and blues (R&B) and was characterized by the use of electric guitars, a strong rhythm with an accent on the offbeat, and youth-oriented lyrics.
In 1952 Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were still teenagers from Baltimore when they wrote “Hound Dog” for Big Mama Thornton. Her recording of this song topped the R&B charts for seven weeks in 1953. Three years later Elvis Presley added Thornton’s hit to his stage act and transformed the song’s blues and put-down rhyme into what is now considered the 19
th Greatest Songs of All Time.
Leiber, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, was born in 1933 and grew up on the edge of Baltimore’s black ghetto. Stoller, also born in 1933, learned the basics of blues and boogie-woogie from the black kids in his neighborhood. These two musicians teamed-up and went on to write, arrange and produce countless recordings. Leiber and Stoller were particularly influential during the first decade of rock and roll and advanced it to new heights of wit and musical sophistication.
In May 2005 the Youngstown Playhouse put on the Broadway musical called “Smokey Joe’s Café.” This production included 41 songs by Leiber and Stoller and included such well known numbers as “On Broadway”, “Stand by Me”, “Yakety Yak” and “Hound Dog.”
Both Leiber and Stoller were inducted into the Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1988 their early composition, Hound Dog, earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Jerry and Mike are still around and occasionally appear in the mainstream media. If you would like to learn more about these two song writers click on
http://www.tsimon.com/leiberst.htm or go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum web site and click on “inductees.” If you don’t do this, then you ain’t no friend of mine.

It’s a Dog’s Life

This cliché implies a bleak, miserable existence. From the human standpoint a dog’s life might leave a lot to be desired, however, the vast majority of dogs in the USA live rather comfortably. They are pampered by their owners, are fed on a regular schedule, and hurried to the veterinarian when they become sick. In fact, when you stop and think about it, a dog can enjoy life without the worry of paying income tax and health care premiums. Perhaps, we humans should all take a page from a dog’s life and find a sunny spot and curl up and take a long nap. We might all live longer and enjoy life more.