47 miles of barbed wire

Bo Diddley, who died the other day, was quite possibly the first “underground” rock star. He never had a top-ten hit single, and he was far better known among musicians and critics than among the general public. Of course, he’s best known for the eponymous beat (which apparently derives from West African sources) which, along with his characteristic tremolo guitar tone and maracas-led percussion, shows up in hundreds of songs.

Here’s a slightly obscure Bo Diddley tune, “Pretty Thing,” followed by two of my favorite examples of the Bo Diddley beat: Bruce Springsteen’s “She’s the One” and “Cuban Slide” by the Pretenders.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “47 miles of barbed wire

  1. porkypine

    I remember reading a great Johnny Marr article many, many years ago where he described organizing arrangements around the accents of the Bo Diddley beat. He said that even if the pattern is not immediatly discernable, using the beat as a framework helps give a song a groovier rhythmic feel.

  2. jim

    Awesome. Current’s Daily Fix has a cool piece on Bo: http://current.com/items/89001937_bo_diddley_remembered

  3. 2fs

    Porkypine: that makes a lot of sense – and now that I think of it, I can hear it – definitely in “This Charming Man” (although that also makes use of a classic Motown beat, as in “Can’t Hurry Love”: kinda crossbreeds the two).

  4. yellojkt

    Didn’t know that Bo had his own beat. Thanks for the rock history lesson.

  5. Steve

    This post inspired me to do my own Diddley mix

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