4. Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy
What is it a response to? Bo Diddley - I'm a Man
Blues titans Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley had an interesting relationship - one of moderately friendly competition - that played out in their music. A long and prosperous chain of iconic songs kicked off when Diddley recorded a ditty called I'm a Man that was heavily influenced by Waters' Hoochie Coochie Man.
Both songs were about their respective crooner's mojo. (Diddley, quite literally, spells out the fact that he is a M-A-N.) The song became a hit and is listed as one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Later that same year, Waters recorded a mocking response called Mannish Boy, which is so similar to the song it's calling out, you'd be forgiven for assuming they were both written by the same person. (In fact, Diddley even gets a writing credit on the tune, perhaps because so much of it seems "borrowed", or maybe it was just a sly wink from Waters that said "Yes, Bo, I'm mocking you and your sexual prowess on record.")
A handful of lyrics are intentionally pulled nearly verbatim from I'm a Man, with Waters also spelling out his man-ness. He also takes an opportunity to one-up Diddley's sexual stamina, clocking himself in at two hours in the bedroom versus Diddley's one. To make things more confounding, the musical structure of Mannish Boy centers on the classic call-and-response blues riff you've heard in songs like Bad to the Bone, a riff that was popularised in a little song called Hoochie Coochie Man, the song that kicked off this whole damn chain.