Ray Charles – What I’d Say

This great song was written by Ray Charles. Charles said he got the idea for this song from “The sweet sounds of love.” The call-and-response style was inspired by church music Charles grew up with. When the preacher said something, the congregation shouted it back. “What’d I Say” stands as the epitome of call-and-response in secular music.

The intro will hook you right off the bat. The Beatles would cover this in Hamburg and The Cavern and make it last 15 or more minutes. The song peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 in 1959.

From Songfacts.

Charles improvised this onstage at a club in Brownsville, Pennsylvania in December 1958 after he played every song he knew and still had 12 minutes to fill. He simply asked his band to follow his lead… which they did. He told his backing singers (The Raeletts) to simply repeat whatever he said. The singer remembered: “I had sung everything I could think of. So I said to the guys, ‘Look, I’m going to start this thing off, I don’t know where I’m going, so y’all just follow me.’ And I said to the girls, ‘Whatever I say, just repeat after me.'”

The story goes that at the end, the club-goers gathered at Charles’ feet, begging for the tune’s title so they could buy the record. Predictably, the song was recorded with all due haste.

Although he first made his mark with “I Got a Woman,” this established Charles as a front-line star. Its success at the end of his contract with Atlantic Records enabled him to sign a lucrative one with ABC-Paramount. The hits came quickly and furiously soon afterwards.

Along with “Be-Bop-a-Lula” by Gene Vincent, this is mentioned in the first line of the Dire Straits song, “Walk Of Life.” The line is: “Here comes Johnny singing oldies goldies, Be-Bop-a-Lula baby What’d I Say.”

When Charles recorded this, it was a very long song until engineer Tom Dowd edited it down to 6 1/2 minutes. Dowd eventually became a very well-respected producer, working with The Allman Brothers, Derek and the Dominos, Aretha Franklin and many others.

In 1975, John Belushi did a skit on Saturday Night Live where he plays Beethoven at a piano, but ends up rocking out to this. He was a big fan of soul music, and performed as The Blues Brothers with with fellow cast member Dan Aykroyd.

Charles released a new version on his 2002 album Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again that incorporated hip-hop elements and synthesizers. This rendition met with resistance: the Chicago Tribune called it a “dead, depressing version” in their review of the album.

In the early ’60s, many acts incorporated this song into their live shows, including Gene Vincent, Adam Faith, John Leyton and Brenda Lee. In 1964, Elvis Presley performed it in the movie Viva Las Vegas (where is sings it to Ann Margret) – this version was released as a single. Here are the charting covers in the US for “What’d I Say”:

1961, #30 Jerry Lee Lewis
1962, #24 Bobby Darin
1963, #113 Kenny Burrell & Jimmy Smith
1964, #21 Elvis Presley
1972, #61 Rare Earth

Glen Campbell played guitar on the Elvis version. Before he became a successful country/pop recording artist, Campbell was much in demand as a session guitarist in the mid-1960s. He even briefly replaced Brian Wilson in The Beach Boys in 1965. Campbell first met Elvis in Albuquerque in 1957 when he was 21 and they stayed in touch. He recalled to UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph in a 2011 interview: “We both come up the same way, in the sticks. Elvis was a great singer, he really was. I wanted to play the guitar more so than I did singing. He was a great guy.”

What I’d Say

Hey mama, don’t you treat me wrong
Come and love your daddy all night long
All right now, hey hey, all right
See the girl with the diamond ring
She knows how to shake that thing
All right now now now, hey hey, hey hey
Tell your mama, tell your pa
I’m gonna send you back to Arkansas
Oh yes, ma’m, you don’t do right, don’t do right
Aw, play it boy
When you see me in misery
Come on baby, see about me
Now yeah, all right, all right, aw play it, boy
When you see me in misery
Come on baby, see about me
Now yeah, hey hey, all right
See the girl with the red dress on
She can do the Birdland all night long

Yeah yeah, what’d I say, all right
Well, tell me what’d I say, yeah
Tell me what’d I say right now
Tell me what’d I say
Tell me what’d I say right now
Tell me what’d I say
Tell me what’d I say yeah

And I wanna know
Baby I wanna know right now
And-a I wanna know
And I wanna know right now yeah
And-a I wanna know
Said I wanna know yeah

Hey, don’t quit now! (c’mon honey)
Naw, I got, I uh-uh-uh, I’m changing (stop! stop! we’ll do it again)
Wait a minute, wait a minute, oh hold it! Hold it! Hold it!
Hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey
Oh one more time (just one more time)
Say it one more time right now (just one more time)
Say it one more time now (just one more time)
Say it one more time yeah (just one more time)
Say it one more time (just one more time)
Say it one more time yeah (just one more time)

Hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey
Ah! Make me feel so good (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good now yeah (make me feel so good)
Whoa! Baby (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good yeah (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good yeah (make me feel so good)
Huh (huh) ho (ho) huh (huh) ho (ho) huh (huh) ho (ho) huh
Aw, it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right right now (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right yeah (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)

Whoa! Shake that thing now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing now now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing right now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Whoa! I feel all right now yeah (make me feel all right)
Said I feel all right now (make me feel all right)
Whoa! (make me feel all right)
Tell you I feel all right (make me feel all right)
Said I feel all right (make me feel all right)
Baby I feel all right (make me feel all right)

 

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

5 thoughts on “Ray Charles – What I’d Say”

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