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No. 76: Nazareth, ‘Hair of the Dog’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

Nazareth Hair of the Dog
A&M Records

If the band had their way, the title of Nazareth‘s entry on our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list might not be quite as subtle as it is now.

If you’ve ever wondered why the group just didn’t name their smash hit 1975 album and its cowbell-and-talk box happy title track ‘Son of a Bitch,’ after that famously threatening “Now you’re messing with a…” chorus, well, so is lead singer Dan McCafferty, as he explains to Classic Rock Revisited:

“We wanted to call the album ‘Son of a Bitch’ but the record company went ape s—. They said, ‘You can’t say that.’ We said, ‘F— off, John Wayne says that in his movies and he is the neatest thing that you’ve got going.’” (By “you’ve” we assume the Scottish singer was referring to America.)

But the label won, and an effort by the band to be more clear with the title “Heir of the Dog” was also rejected, leaving us with the vague innuendo we have today.

Whatever you call it, the song rides a positively sinister groove as McCafferty warns a gold-digging temptress — a real “Heart breaker / Soul shaker,” in his words — that her charms aren’t going to work on him. (The whole album’s pretty great; if you’ve never explored past ‘Hair’ and their cover of ‘Love Hurts,’ we highly suggest you do so.)

Guns N’ Roses loved the song enough to record it for their 1993 covers album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?,’ and Britney Fox and Warrant also turned in their own versions, but with the rare (and highly contested) exception of Motley Crue perfecting ‘Helter Skelter,’ as always, the original remains the king.

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Watch Nazareth Perform ‘Hair of the Dog’

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