- What'd I Say (song)
Name = What'd I Say
from Album = What'd I Say
B-side = What'd I Say, Pt. 2
July 13, 1959
Format = 7" single
February 18, 1959
Genre = Soul
Length = 6:30
Label = Atlantic
Chart position =
#6 US Pop Singles
#1 US R&B Singles
Last single = "
Night Time Is the Right Time"
This single = "What'd I Say"
Next single = "I'm Moving On"
"What'd I Say" or "What I Say" is a two-part recording that was released in 1959 by
R&B/soul singer-songwriter Ray Charles. It was ranked at #10 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
According to Charles, while performing at a
Milwaukeenightclub, he had performed the last song of his set, " Night Time Is the Right Time", when he was informed that there was another twelve minutes left in the show. Charles decided to fill the time by performing an impromptu version of the song that would eventually be recorded as "What'd I Say". Charles told his backing band and female background singers, the Raelettes, to "just follow me". The song began on a Latin influenced drum beat and a Wurlitzer electric pianoriff before Charles improvised his own lyrics to it.
As the band became more comfortable with the piece, Charles and the Raelettes started an impromptu
call and responsevocalization. Charles later said that the call and response section was "all about the sounds of making love".
Although the song is usually listed as "What'd I Say", Charles always insisted that the name of the song is "What I Say" as heard on the track.
Executives at Charles'
record label, Atlantic Records, expressed concerns that the song was "too risqué" and "too long". Radio station WAOKin Atlanta had recorded the tune as part of the live album "Ray Charles in Person" and placed their hot exclusive in heavy rotation. It became a hit.
Atlantic was convinced. To remedy the problem of length, in-house studio engineer
Tom Dowdsplit the song into two parts. With Atlantic's backing, the new studio recording of "What'd I Say" was released as a single in the spring of 1959 and soon rose to the top of the charts. The song would peak at #1 on Billboard's R&B singles chart and #6 on the popular charts.
Artists that covered "What'd I Say" include:
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakerswith Eric Clapton on Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
Johnny Cashand June Carter
Jerry Lee Lewis
Elvis Presley(for the movie " Viva Las Vegas")
Tony Sheridanand The Beatles
Bill Haley & His Comets
Roy Orbisonand Medeski, Martin & Wood
Hound Dog Taylor
Sammy Davis, Jr.(for the the 1967 TV special: Movin' With Nancy)cite video
people = Nancy Sinatra
title = Movin' with Nancy
medium = Song listing
publisher = Image Intertainment
location = Chatsworth, CA
year2 = 2000 ] .
John Belushialso performed the song in character as Beethoven(but in the style of Ray Charles) in a season 1 episode of Saturday Night Live.
"What'd I Say" was ranked tenth on "Rolling Stone"'s List of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2000, it ranked #43 on "
VH1's 100 Greatest Song in Rock and Roll" and #96 on "VH1's 100 Greatest Dance Songs in Rock and Roll" with it being the oldest song in the latter ranking. The song has been featured as one of 500 songs that shaped rock & rollaccording to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fameand for its historical, artistic and cultural significance was added by the Library of Congressto the US National Recording Registry in 2002.
* [http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_ray_charles_whatd/index.html Article on the making of "What'd I Say"]
* [http://www.secondhandsongs.com/song/14238.html List of covers of "What'd I Say"]
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