Wynonna – “I Hear You Knocking”

Juli Thanki | March 19th, 2009

Wynonna - I Hear You KnockingSongwriters: Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King (1955).

Hey, remember the mid 90s, way back when the current members of country music’s blondtourage were in elementary school and fat girls could still get radio airplay? Those were also the last years Wynonna Judd recorded anything worth listening to, including #1s “I Saw the Light,” “Tell Me Why,” and other fantastic contemporary country singles. The past decade-and-a-half has seen her wasting her incredible voice covering Foreigner, hosting Nashville Star with Cowboy Troy, and suffering from multiple personal issues including divorce and a stint in rehab for food addiction–not to mention appearing on NBC sitcom Kath & Kim in a horribly unfunny cameo/publicity stunt. Nevertheless, her seven studio albums have still sold extremely well, all of them hitting #5 or higher on the Billboard country charts.

The first single from her newest venture, Sing: Chapter One is “I Hear You Knocking”, an early Rock’n’Roll song made famous by New Orleans R&B musician Smiley Lewis in 1955. Due to racial attitudes at the time of its recording, however, it was seldom played on “white” radio until Brit rocker Dave Edmunds covered it (with massive success on both sides of the Atlantic) some twenty years later.

Wynonna stays faithful to Edmunds’ version of the song, which is more 70s rock anthem than juke-joint staple. But it’s such a good song that both arrangements are a lot of fun to hear—and Judd’s has the added benefit of having sassy, throaty vocals that are made for singing along. More importantly, it sounds like Wynonna is having fun herself, almost as though the past 15 years of personal and professional difficulties never happened. She sounds like she’s back in her comfort zone.

Fans of equally rockin’ and sassy “No One Else on Earth” will more likely than not be drawn to “I Hear You Knocking,” (which, considering its subject matter, might be considered something of a sequel song once the protagonist of “Earth” comes to her senses), and Judd might just get her foot back in the door of country radio.

Though the rest of the album is a tired collection of over-covered songs (save Judd’s one-woman version of Boswell Sisters’ “That’s How Rhythm Was Born”) with “I Hear You Knocking,” she done good.

Thumbs Up

  1. J.R. Journey
    March 19, 2009 at 9:43 am

    This is not the song I expected to go to radio. Actually, I didn’t expect any of the tunes on this album to go to radio except maybe the Rodney Crowell-penned title track.

    Good song though – and spot-on review.

  2. Karlie Justus
    March 19, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Wow, that’s Wynonna? She sounds very different from her earlier songs. Or maybe it’s just been too long.

  3. Kim
    March 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Sorry, the Dave Edmunds version is the best.

  4. Steve Harvey
    March 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Keith Urban used to do a killer live acoustic version – don’t know if he still plays it though…

  5. PaulaW
    March 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve always loved this song. And I still do. Just not this version of it. :-(

  6. Jon
    March 19, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Regrettably, I thought this was pretty pedestrian – not so much Wynonna’s vocal as the arrangement and playing. I thought her reading of “‘Til I Get It Right” was stronger.

  7. Joseph
    March 19, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I am a fan of Dave Edmund’s version, but I still enjoy Wynonna’s. I’ve always liked the “rock” side of her, for the most part, and of all the songs on her current album, I think this is the one that has the best chance of making a dent in the airwaves.

    And good review overall. I guess I am in the minority when I say that I like a lot of Wynonna’s more recent work. I happen to enjoy her recording of “I Want to Know What Love Is” and some of the other tracks on her What the World Needs album.

  8. PaulaW
    March 19, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I really like Fats Domino’s version too.

  9. Nicolas
    March 20, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Wouldn’t it have been better to have released this before the album? 0.o

  10. Rick
    March 23, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I got to see Dave Edmunds perform this song with his band Rockpile and Nick Lowe at the Roxy club on the Sunset Strip back in the 1970’s and he kicked arse live. Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick was in the audience and was giving out Cheap Trick logo guitar picks to fans like me who asked nicely. It was one of the best concerts I attended during the 70’s.

    This is such an inherently cool song that like “Locomotion” any well performed cover should sound decent. I think Wynonna’s version is okay and it would be nice if it got her back on Top 40 country radio. Since AirHead country radio ignored a killer single like “Flies In The Butter” (horrible title!) I really don’t know if they’ll give this a spin.

    PS – The original Australian version of “Kath & Kim” (aired here on The Sundance Channel for awhile) was a fantastic show and the NBC Americanized version sucks in comparison.

  11. Patrick
    April 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Love Wynonna’s “I Hear You Knockin” and hope it tops the country charts!

  12. mickey michael
    March 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    A lengthy comment is necessary to make a small but important correction regarding the 1950’s version of the song.

    Top 40 radio of the late 1950s and early 1960s mixed styles of music. Up until that time, most radio stations had block programming; a hour of this style, followed by two hours of another style, along with radio dramas and comedies during the infancy of television. Naturally, the more popular styles of music received the most hours of airplay.

    Smiley Lewis, an unknown, was played on white radio and was in the national charts. He was topped by a white female (Gale Storm) who was widely known due to her highly successful TV show (top ten, if not number one) and having been a movie actress. There would be little difference today: imagine the publicity the successful white female would receive on the entertainment and talk shows versus the unknown black male.

    In the 1950s, the white female sang in the popular style of the time. Back then, as today, several styles of music were popular at the same time and these styles changed gradually over years. Smiley Lewis was not the kind of sound that was popular with the masses.

    There were people who would not listen to “race” music (R&B) some of which was suggestive for the time, but at the same time listened to many black artists who were in style: Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, The Mills Brothers, and the list goes on and on and on.

    Hope this gives you an understanding of music radio prior to the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps you will not perpetuate the bias of the poor, black artists who could not get their song played because of the nasty racists.

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