Nazareth – “Hair of the Dog” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

The song explores the experience of being wronged, having had enough, and asserting oneself. The strong language used, like “son of a bitch,” underlines the determination to stand up against deceit. As for who it’s about? The song doesn’t name anyone in particular but is rather a universal outcry against any betrayer. It’s a musical stand against anyone who ever tried to pull one over you.

Want more depth on this hard-rock classic? Let’s rock and roll into it!

“Hair of the Dog” Lyrics Meaning

The song starts strong with terms like “Heartbreaker” and “soul shaker.” Right off the bat, the songwriter establishes a relationship gone sour. There’s a sense of having been warned about a deceiving individual – “I’ve been told about you”. Following this, descriptors such as “Steamroller” and “midnight shoulder” amplify this sense of betrayal. It’s as if this individual bulldozes through emotions and only offers solace in the anonymity of midnight.

“Red hot mama, velvet charmer” brings in seductive imagery. This person might look good on the surface and can charm their way into anyone’s heart, but there’s a price. The “Time’s come to pay your dues” line is a declaration that the free ride is over.

Further into the song, “Red hot mama, velvet charmer” delivers a dual message. On the surface, this person is enticing and magnetic. Yet, there’s an undercurrent of deceit. The urgency in “Time’s come to pay your dues” signifies the end of leniency, suggesting that accountability is looming.

When we reach the chorus, “Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch” is more than just a catchy line. It’s a proclamation of self-respect and inner strength. It stands as both an acknowledgment of one’s worth and a cautionary message to the betrayer about underestimating their opponent.

The lyrics delve deeper into intricate symbolism with “Talkin’ jivin’ poison ivy.” This analogy equates enticing yet deceptive words to the deceptive nature of poison ivy – appealing to look at, but painful upon contact. Similarly, “Man taker, bone faker” paints a picture of a master manipulator, one who is adept at hiding their true motives to the very core.

 The Story Behind “Hair of the Dog”

When Nazareth released “Hair of the Dog” in 1975, it was a tumultuous time for rock ‘n’ roll. The genre was undergoing significant transformation, and there was a palpable shift from the free-loving vibes of the ’60s to a more assertive, sometimes aggressive tone that the ’70s brought. The band’s choice to infuse the song with a blend of resentment and self-assertion likely resonated with many listeners of that era. It became an anthem for those who felt slighted or betrayed and sought an outlet for their frustrations.

The song’s title, which interestingly doesn’t appear in the lyrics, is a play on the phrase “hair of the dog that bit you,” an old belief that the best cure for a hangover is to have more of what caused it. In this context, the song can be seen as a remedy for betrayal – face it head-on and assert your worth.

In the midst of their own ups and downs as a band, Nazareth managed to capture the zeitgeist of the time, making “Hair of the Dog” a timeless rock anthem that still resonates today.