Inspired by Eric Weisbard's excellent new book, Hound Dog. [All quotes from Weisbard's book.]
"Thornton originated 'Hound Dog' at the beginning of an era that would insist that the best songs were not novelties or standards passed around between entertainers but the recorded work of a single artist in a single moment, putting something of who they were into the grooves."
"Presley found something in the Freddie Bell Las Vegas cover version he could work with, unlike Thornton’s, starting with making a song about a no-good woman-chasing man into a song about a no-good rabbit-chasing canine."
"With the gender battle and in-concert sex play deleted, the song becomes a class battle: 'They said you was high-classed / Well, that was just a'—line? Lie? On a record we can’t see the hips move ... We compensate, hear the swivel in how he just slightly pauses to signify on his own vocal rhythm about thirty-five seconds in, on what’s already his fourth sung 'You ain’t …' Nothing is comic here, à la the Freddie Bell version.
"R.E.M. covered the song alongside Patti Smith and her guitarist Lenny Kaye in the year they were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' the look-back-with-a-smile equivalent of what in earlier ceremonies might have been a Chuck Berry or Beatles song, a 'Summertime Blues.'"