In the early 1990s — around the same time he was playing guitar and singing with Joe, Doc & I in Sedan Delivery — my friend Don was leading a band called Rapid Transit, who specialized in old soul covers.
Among many other things, this made him maybe the only person in music history who was in two bands at the same time that were named after Neil Young songs.
And quite naturally, I ended up going to quite a few Rapid Transit gigs, and out of all of the songs they played, my favorite was their version of Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood.”
At that point, I was still discovering soul music. I’d bought Motown compilations and was somewhat schooled in the repetories of the Temptations & Otis Redding, I hadn’t yet gone really deep on Stax-Volt.
But “Knock on Wood” was a good place to start. Co-written with Steve Cropper, it’s a primal slice of soul, driven by relentless horns, Cropper’s guitar and the insanely insinuating groove of Duck Dunn and and Al Jackson, Jr.
With the horns leading the way, “Knock on Wood” relentlessly builds towards its all-time classic chorus:
It’s like thunder
The way you love me is frightening.
I’d better knock (knock!!)
On wood, baby
On paper, it might feel like a cheap gimmick for Jackson to make a stop-time knocking noise with his snare drum after Floyd sings “I’d better knock,” but instead, it breaks the chorus in half and provides the biggest hook in the song.
“Knock on Wood”