I grew up listening to Green Manalishi, the Priest version of course.
To say that I loved that song is hardly the half of it. I recall waiting by the stereo with a cassette recorder, hoping it would play soon, and hoping the damned DJ would announce it in time for me to his record. That and “You Got Another Thing Comin'” led me to Judas Priest. Combined with a few other things, it led me to Heavy Metal. To say that I took an interest in the genre is putting it mildly. For an adolescent male back in the 80s, Heavy Metal was more like a religion than a musical genre. I didn’t just embrace metal on account of this song and others like it, I instinctively renounced others. To love music from another genre just felt wrong; metal was my music. I made exceptions, but they were few and far in between for a few years there. My interest in metal back then was an oath of allegiance. Remembering now what it was like to sit in front of my dad’s old stereo with a tape-recorder waiting for a Green Manalishi to make an appearance, I can’t help but chuckle at he foolishness to come even as I wish I could have (just for one moment even) the magic and the intensity of my initial interest in this song.
I don’t know when I first learned that one of my favorite Priest songs was actually a cover. I imagine, I must have responded with something like; ‘cool’, but I don’t think I sought out the original. As with Diamonds and Rust, I was happy to know that there was a history to this song, but I didn’t make too much of an effort to learn what it was.
I think I listened to the full version of this song only recently. It was a Fleetwood Mack song, made long before Stevie Nicks brought her own haunting vocals to the band. This was one of Peter Green’s final contributions to the band.
What is a Green Manalishi?
To Green, it was a green dog, if you can imagine that, a green dog and a dead one at that, dead but still barking. The dog, according to Green represented money.
Yes, drugs were involved.
In its own way, the Green version of this tune is just as hard hitting as the Priest cover. It’s slower, more minimalist, and yet so much more haunting. Anger always came through loud and clear in the Priest version; in the original it’s dread. I always imagined Rob Halford angry at some old flame who wouldn’t go away. I would never have imagined the Green version was an old lover; every note suggests something more sinister, more arcane. I wouldn’t have guessed it was a dog or a money, but listening to the tune now, death and worse seems quite likely the point of the song.
I have two versions of this song in my favorites list now.
Love them both!