What'd I Say (song)

What'd I Say (song)

Infobox Single
Name = What'd I Say

Artist = Ray Charles
from Album = What'd I Say
B-side = What'd I Say, Pt. 2
Released = July 13, 1959
Format = 7" single
Recorded = February 18, 1959
Genre = Soul
Length = 6:30
Label = Atlantic
Writer = Ray Charles
Producer = Jerry Wexler
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 Milwaukee nightclub, 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 piano riff 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 response vocalization. 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 WAOK in 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 Dowd split 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:
*Bobby Darin
*Jimmy Smith
*Clifton Chenier
*John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton on Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
*Johnny Cash and June Carter
*Etta James
*Jerry Lee Lewis
*Graham Bond
*Lyle Lovett
*Freddie King
*Elvis Presley (for the movie "Viva Las Vegas")
*Tony Sheridan and The Beatles
*Bill Haley & His Comets
*Rare Earth
*Cliff Richard
*Rigo Tovar
*Roy Orbison and Medeski, Martin & Wood
*Jimi Hendrix
*Hound Dog Taylor
*Vince 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 Belushi also 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 & roll according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and for its historical, artistic and cultural significance was added by the Library of Congress to the US National Recording Registry in 2002.

External links

* [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"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • What Time Is It? (song) — What Time Is It? Single by High School Musical Cast from the album High School Musical 2 …   Wikipedia

  • What's Going On (song) — Infobox Single Name = What s Going On Artist = Marvin Gaye from Album = What s Going On B side = God Is Love Released = January 20, 1971 Recorded = June 10, 1970, Hitsville USA (Studio A) Format= Vinyl record (7 45 RPM) Genre = Soul Length = 3:40 …   Wikipedia

  • What’d I Say — ist ein von Ray Charles im Jahre 1959 komponierter und selbst gesungener Musiktitel, der zu den Standards des Rhythm and Blues und der Popmusik gehört. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Entstehungsgeschichte 2 Aufnahme 3 Veröffentlichung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • What’d I Say — «What’d I Say» Сингл Рэя Чарльза из альбома What’d I Say …   Википедия

  • What'd I Say — «What d I Say» Sencillo de Ray Charles del álbum What d I Say Lado B What d I Say (parte 2) Formato 7 a 45 RPM Grabación 18 de febrero de 1959 …   Wikipedia Español

  • What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry? — is a popular song by Walter Donaldson and Abe Lyman, published in 1926.The song has become a popular and jazz standard, recorded by many artists …   Wikipedia

  • What Made You Say That — Single infobox Name = What Made You Say That Artist = Shania Twain from Album = Shania Twain Released = March 9 1993 Genre = Country Length = 2:59 Label = Mercury Nashville Writer = Tony Haselden, Stan Munsey, Jr. Producer = Harold Shedd, Norro… …   Wikipedia

  • What Would You Say — Infobox Single Name = What Would You Say Artist = Dave Matthews Band from Album = Under the Table and Dreaming B side = Recently Released = 1994 Format = CD single Recorded = Genre = Rock Length = 3:42 Label = RCA Producer = Last single = This… …   Wikipedia

  • Say (song) — Infobox Single Name = Say (What You Need to Say) Artist = John Mayer Album = The Bucket List soundtrack and Continuum Special Edition Released = November 20, 2007 Format = Digital download Genre = adult contemporary Length = 3:49 Label = Aware… …   Wikipedia

  • Say It Right — Infobox Single Name = Say It Right Artist = Nelly Furtado from Album = Loose Lower caption = Australian cover B side = What I Wanted Released = October 31, 2006 (U.S. radio) December 2, 2006 (Australia) March 2, 2007 (Germany) March 5, 2007 (UK… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”