Pick of the Week: The Black Keys “Crawling Kingsnake”

The Black Keys "Crawling Kingsnake"
Graphics by Kevin Shin

By Nora Onanian, Staff Writer

The Black Keys breathe new life into “Crawling Kingsnake,” a classic country-style blues song popularized by John Lee Hooker. The duo dropped the song on April 15th, along with the announcement of their tenth studio album, Delta Kream. In an interview, singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach said the album was inspired by the Mississippi hill country sound. It’s the same musical tradition that he and drummer Patrick Carney first bonded over. Delta Kream will feature covers of songs by blues legends like David Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside, and others.

The Black Keys’ spin on “Crawling Kingsnake” is strikingly different from Hooker’s original 1949 performance. A faster tempo and vocals add energy to the song. The band explains that their cover bears a close resemblance to Kimbrough’s 1994 take on the song. What stands out most on the Keys’ version is the interplay between the two guitars. That groovy combination is complemented perfectly by Auerbach’s fluctuating vocals and Carney’s steady drumming. To lend their cover authenticity, the band collaborated with Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton. Both musicians have extensive experience in the Mississippi blues tradition. Brown even plays the same slide guitar he used while recording some of Burnside’s records. While “Crawling Kingsnake” is certainly a lot more blues-infused than past works, the classic Keys garage-rock sound still shines through. 

Delta Kream is set to come out on May 14th. It’ll be exciting to hear how the band continues to explore the roots of their musical influences in the rest of the record. 

 

Every Monday, our music staff brings you a new Pick of The Week, detailing some of our favorite songs. Check out our previous Picks of the Week here, and make sure to tune in to WERS 88.9FM!

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