What’d I Say (Part 1) – Ray Charles

August 5, 2022

“What’d I Say (Part 1)” by Ray Charles is an example of the ethereal soul and gospel music that would come to define black American culture in the 1950s and 60s. It is a song of devotion with a Latin feel, heavily influenced by jazz and blues. Ray Charles’ choir-like vocalizations are accompanied by Latin rhythms, not too different from what we heard from Frank Sinatra. This song was released by Ray Charles in 1959 and is one of his most famous numbers.

Interesting Facts about What’d I Say (Part 1) by: Ray Charles

  • “What’d I Say (Part 1)” is an early example of a song that samples itself. Classical music has a complicated history of this practice dating back to Bach, who was known to borrow motifs from his works. This song’s introduction is from a later part of the same piece.
  • What’d I Say (Part 1)” samples “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” a song by Ray Charles himself, who wrote the song in 1954.
  • 2:28 into the song, in the background, there is a drum playing the same melody as “Hallelujah, I Love Her So.”
  • This is a peculiar song. There are two versions of this song. The first, released in 1959, was covered by several artists such as The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte, and many more. The second version is a live performance from the same year at the Apollo Theater (4:33).
  • What’d I Say (Part 1)”  was named the second most influential soul song of all time by VH1.
  • What’d I Say (Part 1)” was included in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • According to Rolling Stone, this song is ranked as the 5th greatest single of all time.

Lyrics

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

Hey hey

Hey hey

Tell your mama, tell your pa

I’m gonna send you back to Arkansas, oh yes m’am

You don’t do right

Don’t do right

Oh, 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

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

And I wanna know

Baby, I wanna know right now

And I wanna know

Baby, I wanna know right now, yeah

And I wanna know

Baby I wanna know, yeah

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