About the song

Absolutely, let’s delve into the electrifying world of Elvis Presley and his iconic single, What’d I Say (1959). This song, though short in stature, holds a giant footprint in the history of Rock and Roll.

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Elvis Presley, by 1959, was already a certified superstar. His charisma and undeniable stage presence had captivated audiences across the US. However, What’d I Say marked a turning point. It showcased a rawer, more uninhibited side of the King, pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable popular music at the time.

The song’s origins are steeped in the rich tapestry of rhythm and blues. It was originally written and performed by the legendary Ray Charles in 1959 under the title “What’d I Say”. Charles’ version, a gospel-infused stomper, became a hit in its own right. However, when it landed in the hands of Elvis Presley, it underwent a transformation.

Elvis’ version stripped away some of the gospel elements, injecting a heavier dose of rock and roll. The iconic piano intro, pounding drums, and Presley’s signature suggestive vocals created an undeniably infectious energy. The lyrics themselves, though seemingly simple on the surface (“You make me wanna shout”), were considered suggestive at the time. Elvis’ onstage gyrations during performances of the song further fueled the controversy, with some radio stations even refusing to play it.

What’d I Say transcended these controversies to become a cultural phenomenon. It topped the Billboard R&B chart and reached number six on the Pop chart, showcasing its crossover appeal. The song’s influence stretches far and wide. It’s considered a cornerstone of Rock and Roll, inspiring countless musicians across genres. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and The Who all cite What’d I Say as a major influence on their own sounds.

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Beyond its musical impact, the song played a significant role in breaking down racial barriers. Elvis, a white artist performing a song heavily influenced by Black music, helped introduce a wider audience to the power and soul of R&B. This cultural exchange was a pivotal moment in the early days of Rock and Roll.

So, when you hit play on What’d I Say (1959), you’re not just listening to a catchy tune. You’re experiencing a piece of music history, a song that defied boundaries, ignited controversy, and paved the way for a new era of music. It’s a testament to the raw power of Rock and Roll and the enduring legacy of the King himself, Elvis Presley.

Video

Lyrics

“What’d I Say”

Hey mama, don’t you treat me wrong
Come and love your daddy all night long
All right, hey, hey, all right now

See the girl with the diamond ring
She knows how to shake that thing
All right, hey, hey, Mmm, all right now

Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ohh

Make me feel so good, make me feel so good right now
Make me feel so good, make me feel so good right now
Make me feel so good, make me feel so good

Mmm, see the girl with the red dress on
She can do the dog all night long
All right, hmm what’d I say, tell me what’d I say

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

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Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ahhh, Ohh, Ohh
It’s all right, It’s all right right now
Baby, it’s all right, Baby, it’s all right right now
Baby, it’s all right, Oh yeah!

Baby shake that thing, baby shake that thing right now
Baby shake that thing, baby shake that thing right now
Baby shake that thing, well I feel all right