Hey mama, don’t you treat me wrong

While still developing their sound in those Hamburg clubs, The Beatles played this song at every show, getting the audience to join them in the call and response. Paul McCartney credited it with being one of the reasons why he wanted to become a musician, while John Lennon said that the original recording featured the first electric piano riffs he’d ever heard, which hugely influenced his guitar playing.  George Harrison first remembered hearing it at an all-night party where it was played non-stop for eight hours. “‘What’d I Say’ was one of the best records I ever heard,” he added.

The Beatles weren’t alone in their assessment.  When Mick Jagger originally sang with the still-forming Stones “What’d I Say” was part of the set, as it was with countless other Rock & Roll (and Rock) acts such as The Beach Boys, The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Cliff Richard, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Bobby Darin, Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash. Yet as a melding of Gospel and Blues, “What’d I Say” is broadly credited as “the” song that gave birth to the genre called Soul.

It all came about by happy accident in December of 1958. With a string of R&B hits under his belt, 27 year-old Ray Charles and his orchestra were near the end of a “meal dance” performance in Brownsville, Pennsylvania.  Typically such an engagement would entail four hours of playing with a half-hour break.  Although they had completed their set-list 12 minutes of playing time remained.

Charles toured with his own Wurlitzer electric piano because he was rarely happy with the quality of the pianos provided by the local venues.  When he realized that he needed to come up with something he turned to his backup singers, the Raelettes and told them that he was going to fool around on the electric piano and play what felt right.

However, halfway through the number he directed them to repeat what he was doing and, with the horn section joining in, the song became a call and response. Charles later said that the crowd’s dancing made the room shake. After adding it to his set list and receiving the same response every time, he called his producer (Jerry Wexler) to say that he had something new to record.

There was a major hurdle to be overcome in the recording studio, however.  While the usual length of radio broadcasted songs was about two and a half minutes, “What’d I Say” was more than seven and a half minutes long. As a result, the somewhat whittled single release was split into two three-and-a-half minute sides (Parts I and II) that were divided by a false ending on Side One…where the music stops and the Raelettes and members of the orchestra beg Charles to continue.

Released in the summer of ’59, the single became Ray Charles’ first mainstream hit (reaching Number 1 on the R&B Chart and Number 6 on the Billboard Charts) earning him his first gold record.  For the remainder of his career he would close every show with the song once stating, “When I do ‘What’d I Say’, you don’t have to worry about it—that’s the end of me; there ain’t no encore, no nothin’. I’m finished!”

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 9 November

What’d I 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)

Woah! 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

Awh 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)

 Woah! 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)

Woah! I feel all right now yeah (make me feel all right)

Said I feel all right now (make me feel all right)

Woooah! (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)

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