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Memphis, Tennessee and Music

Satisfactory Essays
Memphis, Tennessee is known for its music. It brought great artists such as Elvis
Presley, Isaac Hayes, and Otis Redman. However, one of that artist that does not get the attention that he deserves is Rufus Thomas. Many people say that he gave Memphis the
“Memphis Sound.” In 1953 Rufus Thomas wrote Sun Record’s first hit “Bear Cat,” a song that attracted attention because of its similarities to the prior version “Hound Dog” and its sexual content. Many people try to argue that the song has a deeper meaning than what it literally says. However, the song is clearly about a female. ‘Big’ Mama
Thornton’s “Hound Dog” lyrics, Thomas’s lyrics, and the way Thomas portrayed himself to the public help to support this statement.
‘Big’ Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” talks about a hound dog that will not leave her alone. It reads, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, quit snooping round my door.”
She is talking about a man that does not do anything for her, but always wants her to take care of him. ‘Big” Mama also implies that he has come back more than once before acting the same way. The song also talks about how the hound dog still comes around wagging his tail, but she is not letting him in. “ You can wag your tail, but I ain’t gonna love you know more,” are the exact words used. This means that this man can come back to her as much as he wants but she is not letting him back into her life. When Thomas heard this song he thought it would be a good idea to write a response to the song.
Rufus Thomas’s “Bear Cat” starts off stating, “ You know what you said about me, don’t you woman?” and continues on to talk about a cat that keeps scratching at his door. The song reads, “Well, you ain’t nothing but a bear cat, been scratchin’ at my door.” Thomas is clearly responding to the original song “Hound Dog.” Thomas basically says the same thing ‘Big’ Mama said about her ex-lover. However, “Bear Cat” has more sexual references. The song says, “ Whoa, rub you! Whoa, get with it now, Git it, git it, git it, git it! Listen to that old cat Meooowwww… scat!” This kind of language was very uncut for the censorship levels in music, in the 50’s.
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