Weeks after releasing a gritty cover of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin,'” Billy Gibbons issued a second tribute to the blues legend with his take on “Standing Around Crying.”
The ZZ Top guitarist offers a slow, simmering version of the cut, laced with his signature, screaming slide-guitar. “Baby, look how you got me standing ’round crying/ I know I done love you, little girl, but you always resting on my mind,” he howls over a 12-bar blues pattern.
Both of Gibbons’ Waters covers appear on his upcoming solo LP, The Big Bad Blues. The guitarist told Ultimate Classic Rock, who premiered the song, that he considered it “absolutely necessary” to honor the bluesman on the album.
“If he hadn’t left Stovall’s Plantation and moved to Chicago where he ‘discovered electricity,’ we’d be living in a very different world,” he told UCR. “[Waters] first recorded ‘Standing Around Crying’ in 1952 and Chess released it first on 78 RPM so that’s really going a ways back. The song is, on a certain level, a bridge between the rural blues of his early days in the Mississippi Delta and the electric blues of his Chicago reign. James Harmon, in tribute to the original, did a great job channeling Junior Wells’ harmonica tone as this was recorded just as Little Walter left Muddy’s band and Junior came in to replace him for a short time.”
Gibbons added that the song’s cadence called to mind “the rhythm of choppin’ that wood,” so he paired the track with a lyric video featuring vintage lumberjack footage. “Of course, we have our respective ‘axes’ in common so there’s that,” he said. “It’s the blues in a forest of green, rendered, of course, in black and white.”
The Big Bad Blues, out September 21st, also features covers of Gilly Stillwater, Jerome Green and Bo Diddley. Drummers Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) and Greg Morrow, guitarist Austin Hanks, harmonica player James Harman and keyboardist Mike Flanigin also appear on the LP. Gibbons will promote the record on a North American tour launching October 13th in Riverside, Iowa.