We're Celebrating!
60 Years of Wilson's Music!

In recognition of 2022 being a milestone year for Wilson's contributions to Rock n' Roll and Rhythm and Blues music, we're highlighting the soulful sounds and storytelling in Wilson's performances. We will feature one of Wilson's songs each month.

Mustang-SallyWilson Pickett
00:00 / 03:05

January 2022 - MUSTANG SALLY

A word on Wilson's "Mustang Sally" from Clark King.

I first heard “Mustang Sally” when I was seventeen years old. I was attending a blues jam session at a small club outside of Atlanta, and towards the end of the night a vocalist named Melissa stepped up and stamped her mark on the song in a truly memorable way! That night sent me on a journey to delve more into the rocking, soul, blues sound of Wilson Pickett. For me it really was all about that verse, “I bought you a brand-new Mustang, a nineteen sixty-five.”  The funkiness of Pickett’s phrasing was all I needed to become a fan. 

Other elements of “Mustang Sally” that have always appealed to me are the very prevalent gospel influence that comes through in the screaming organ, and most certainly the legendary Sweet Inspirations' iconic “ride Sally ride” moment in the chorus! The Sweet Inspirations (founded by Cissy Houston) were one of the hardest working background groups in the 60s. Their sound can also be heard on records from the likes of Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley. 


Pickett’s version of “Mustang Sally” was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama at Fame Studios. The sound coming from that studio at the time was revolutionary. It was all about grit, rhythm, and soul. This record certainly doesn’t come up short.  It’s church, it’s blues, it’s the Muscle Shoals grease, it’s Wilson Pickett! An interesting fact is that the song was originally called “Mustang Mama” until Aretha Franklin encouraged Sir Mack Rice (the writer) to change the title to “Mustang Sally” since the background part was “ride Sally ride” from the beginning of its inception. 

Hey-JudeWilson Pickett
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A word on Wilson's "Hey Jude" from Clark King.

When Paul McCartney first penned “Hey Jude”, it was written to encourage John Lennon’s son who had just seen his parents through divorce.  The song was an international hit, and spent nine weeks at number one in the United States.  The lyrics are rather vague, but the uplifting message couldn’t have been made more clearly than when Wilson Pickett chose to let his formidable vocals loose on the song.  

Pickett certainly must have been confident that he could add something substantial to the song, being that he chose to cover it only months after its initial release by The Beatles.  After listening, one will surely understand that his confidence was justified.  To me, Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude” stands alone thanks to his undeniable vocal take.  Instead of sitting back into the song in the way of the iconic original, he steps forward, holding the message in his heart, and he lets go.  It’s a true, honest vocal.  The full scope of Pickett’s voice is completely on display; from the almost intimate intro verse, to the wailing squalls of the “nah nah nah nah” vamp at the end. 


He took a song, and he “made it better.”