I’m a Man Yardbirds

Greatly Appreciated

I’M A MAN (The Yardbirds)
“I’m a Man”  is a rhythm and blues song written and recorded by Bo Diddley in 1955.  A moderately slow number with a stop-time figure, it was inspired by an earlier blues song and became a number one U.S. R&B chart hit.  “I’m a Man” has been recorded by a variety of artists, including The Yardbirds who had a number seventeen pop hit in the U.S. in 1965.  (More from Wikipedia)
Many of Bo Diddleys songs were hits for others, notably “I’m a Man” by the Yardbirds; there was even a completely ridiculous rumor that Bo Diddley specifically wrote “I’m a Man” for the Yardbirds, even though “I’m a Man” was actually the “B” side of his very first single back in 1955
(December 2012)
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Rollin’ Stone by Muddy Waters is a bridge from the raw blues of Robert Johnson directly to rock and roll; while it is basically a straight blues song, there are startling changes in the beat and cadences over the course of Rollin’ Stone.  Within the blues world, it is a direct antecedent to Muddy Waters1954 recording of the Willie Dixon song “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” (Steppenwolf included “Hoochie Coochie Man” on their 1968 debut album Steppenwolf, among numerous other covers by various rock musicians), Bo Diddley’s I’m a Man (1955), and Waters’ answer “Mannish Boy” (also in 1955).  I suppose that Bo and Muddy had a pretty good rivalry going back then, but on several occasions, I saw a performance of “I’m a Man” by Muddy Waters in later life on a series of films on TV called Living Legends of the Blues – that rendition even leaves the cover of I’m a Man by the Yardbirds in the dust.

(March 2014/1)
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As with many of the British Invasion bands, the Yardbirds initially played American R&B and blues songs rather than their own compositions.  As reported in Wikipedia, during their days at the Crawdaddy Club:  “They drew their repertoire from the Chicago blues of Howlin’ WolfMuddy WatersBo DiddleySonny Boy Williamson II, and Elmore James, including ‘Smokestack Lightning’, ‘Good Morning Little School Girl’, ‘Boom Boom’, I Wish You Would’, ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’' and ‘I’m a Man’.”  In fact, Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds in March 1965 as a protest when the band finally got a hit single with a song that did not come from this milieu, “For Your Love” (written by Graham Gouldman, later a member of 10cc). 


The frequent hit songs by the Yardbirds – “I’m a Man”, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”, For Your Love, “Heart Full of Soul”, “Shapes of Things”, “Over Under Sideways Down”, etc. – hit my eardrums with at least as powerful an impact as the greatest Rolling Stones songs, like “Brown Sugar”, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, “Paint it Black”, Get off of My Cloud, Sympathy for the Devil, “Street Fighting Man”, etc.  To me though, these songs sound every bit as fresh to me today, probably because they haven’t been played to death on oldies’ radio as much as anything else.  


(May 2014)


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The Yardbirds included Train Kept A-Rollin’ on their second American album, Having a Rave up with the Yardbirds that is absolutely chock full of classic songs; in addition to their major hits “I’m a Man and Heart Full of SoulHaving a Rave Up includes “Evil Hearted You” and “Still I’m Sad”, plus a full side of the Yardbirds in concert featuring Eric Clapton on lead (taken from their British debut album, Five Live Yardbirds) that includes I’m a Man again plus their devastating cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning that I first heard on their 1967 collection The Yardbirds’ Greatest Hits.  Anyone who thinks that the British Invasion began and ended with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones needs to hear this music post haste. 
(June 2015)
Last edited: March 22, 2021