The Roots of Danny Kirwan’s ‘Like Crying’
Jigsaw Puzzle Blues –
On March 04, 2020, Ismael Flores added another piece to the puzzle when he posted this incredible find on the Danny Kirwan (Original Fleetwood Mac) Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/939494226089879/:
Buddy Boy Hawkins – Shaggy Dog Blues – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP355jAGyaY
Hawkins is something of a musical apparition; although we know what he looked like, thanks to the sharp photo that appeared in the ad for his debut Paramount 78, nothing is known about who he was or where he came from. Researchers have attempted to determine his origins based on his lyrics and his style of playing, but these are only educated guesses with Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi all having been put forth at one time or another. As to when he was born, and when he died, that will most likely never be known.
Hawkins recorded four tracks for Paramount Records in April of 1927, returning that September to record four more, resulting in four 78s being released.
He recorded another four songs for the label in June of 1929 which were released on an additional two 78s and his story seems to end there. Twelve songs released on six 78s.
It would seem to be his limited output that kept his work from being widely anthologized, as he was an articulate singer (undermined by the poor recording quality of the original 78s) and was a distinct guitarist, equally interesting on slow numbers or faster “rags”, what most likely caught Kirwan’s attention.
Kirwan obviously used this number as the template for ‘Like Crying’ –
Let’s be clear here though; unlike so many of his contemporaries, Kirwan did not simply take the arrangement, let alone the lyrics and play and sing the song the song as originally recorded and claim it as his own; he truly took his inspiration from the number and created something new.
Musicians have been borrowing and sometimes stealing the ideas, melodies, chord changes, etc. for as long as people have been singing and playing instruments.
A good example of the type of inspiration that Kirwan took from Hawkins’ number is the A-side of Hawkins final 78. Hawkins built his number on the foundation of his label-mate Blind Blake’s 1926 recording ‘Skeedle Loo Doo’.
Walter Hawkins – How Come Mama, Blues – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEGCgN_Ig9w
Robert Johnson set new words to a faster version of Hawkins’ arrangement for his 1936 rag ‘They’re Red Hot’*
Robert Johnson – They’re Red Hot – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7PdO_Li81M
There are currently five recordings that I am aware of in circulation of Kirwan and Peter Green performing ‘Like Crying’; this is the earliest, recorded sometime in mid to late 1968 and first released on the 1999 box set “Fleetwood Mac The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967 – 1969”
Fleetwood Mac – Like Crying – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jq0pP_bND40
Hawkins’ sophistication and skill on guitar, difficult to hear on the original recording, is evident in the fact that Kirwan divides the guitar between himself and Green; Hawkins played the number solo.
The number’s distinctive changes were something of a signature for Hawkins.
They can be heard, in a somewhat “simpler” version on the A-side of Hawkins first single, ‘Number Three Blues’, cited by James Walton Ingham in the comment section under Flores’ post as another possible influence on Kirwan’s song.
It can also be heard more clearly at the very end of Hawkin’s ‘Jailhouse Fire Blues’; ironically, the A-side of ‘Shaggy Dog Blues’.
As to where Kirwan may have heard the number, Christopher Hjort (again in the comments section) cites “Backwoods Blues” (London Records, U.K., 1954) as one possible source; the two sides of his second 78, ‘Jailhouse Fire Blues’ and ‘Shaggy Dog Blues’ appear on that LP.
Like the origins and life story of Walter Hawkins, how Kirwan first came to hear the number is most likely lost to us.
What we do have is the glorious music that each man made, and for this we should be grateful.
*Hawkins’ obscurity can be implied by the fact that to the best of my knowledge, this connection has not been made before (if anyone knows of references to the two songs, please write me and I will correct this)
**Discographic Information found at https://www.wirz.de/music/america.htm