In the great rivalry between Muddy Waters & Howlin’ Wolf, I’m with Muddy. But, damn, sometimes the Wolf’s growl just knocks you out. After one such punch yesterday, I thought I’d look up what others have said about the Wolf’s voice.
The most famous description, which everyone quotes but (insofar I could find) no one attributes, is that it is like “the sound of heavy machinery operating on a gravel road.”
My favorite line comes from Ronnie Hawkins, who said that the Wolf’s voice was “stronger than 40 acres of crushed garlic.”
In a long riff, Tom Waits once claimed that Howlin’ Wolf’s sound was inimitable. “You can scream into a pillow for a year and never get there.”
And, finally, the great bluesman himself reflected: “I couldn’t yodel but I could howl. And I been doing just fine.”