Pass it Around
Bob Dylan Plays Tampa...RED! Love Her With A Feeling and It Hurts Me Too
When popular musicians cover traditional blues songs, it sounds like they are playing something way before their time, but in the case of Love Her with a Feeling, Dylan performed the song a mere eighteen years after the creator, Tampa Red, last recorded it. We forget Bob Dylan has virtually lived through the entire history of rock and roll, and that includes a fair portion of the blues too…
Freddie King probably had the best version of the song, and he released it on a single as the other side of one of Clapton's favorite songs, Have You Ever Loved a Woman. Now that is a powerful blues single…Freddie's version came out in 1960. If I am not mistaken, Dylan had his first commercial recording session the very next year….so Freddie King and Bob Dylan are contemporaries.
Love Her With A Feeling is a staple. Tampa Red wrote a winner. No less than a dozen bluesmen have recorded it, as has at least one woman, "The Yas Yas Girl" Merline Johnson. The incredibly rough and gruff Tommy McClennan did it with the most fervor AND the most out-of-tune guitar. It is a hard song to screw up…but Tommy was likely a bit tipsy when he did it and he sure tried to. Muddy Waters did it when he was working with his extra- white son Johnny Winter with considerable vigor.
The blues couplet has also become a staple…an old story about a woman shaking her ass for the judge and then being set free.
Now the coppers brought her in, she didn't need no bail
She shook it for the judge, and he put the cops in jail
'Cause she shook it with a feeling, yes she shook it with a feeling
Yes she loves with a feeling, or she don't love at all
Dylan performed the song in 1978. There was a spate of double LP vinyl bootlegs of that tour…it seemed like every week there was a new performance from the tour at my local retailer.
Dylan has covered Tampa Red several times. It Hurts Me Too was by Tampa (though his version was titled "She's 'Bout Comin' My Way" and Bob has performed She's Love Crazy too…he alternated it with Love Her With A Feeling on the tour I believe. Tampa was one of the earliest performers to record Corrine Corrina and also Sugar Mama Blues…Bob wrote his OWN of that one, but used the title.
A further indication of how close in time Dylan is to the blues? Tampa Red died in 1981, three years after Dylan was opening his shows with his song. Like many African-Americans in the South, Tampa had several names. Tampa Red of course, which came from Tampa, Florida and his red hair…and Hudson Woodbridge or Hudson Whittaker. He also had more than one birthday! (Records for the oppressed minority were not a priority.) He would be more popular, but some of his greatest recordings have a Kazoo on them. Just like Bob Wills and his persistent squawks (Ah HAW!) on many tracks, it is a musical technique which takes getting used to. Hokum lasted a few years, but it was a seminal few years. Get used to it.
Tampa was also, somehow, the first African-American musician to play (or be able to afford?) a beautiful National Steel Guitar.
Here you get Tampa's 1937 version, Freddie's version…AND thirty seconds of Bob's! I might be mistaken, but I believe the solo preceding Mr. Dylan's lovely version is by God.
Thirty Seconds of Love Her with a Feeling and more.