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.

Land-Of-1000-DancesWilson Pickett
00:00 / 02:27

March 2022 - Land of 1000 Dances

A word on Wilson's music from Shane Delancey

For me, any Wilson Pickett discussion begins and ends with this song. How do you prove your dominance in music? Take a song and do it better than anyone ever has, or ever will. And make it last in popular culture for over 50 years.

Wilson recorded and released this song in 1966, making it 56 years ago this coming July of 2022. And although many have covered this song that Chris Kenner wrote in 1962, there is no argument here, the Wilson Pickett version is the best in all regards. 

There are multiple movies, shows and commercials that have featured his version of the song in just the past five years alone! In addition, all the way through the ‘80s and 90s, this song was consistently featured in movies: Forrest Gump, The Full Monty, The Great Outdoors to name a few. Of course, my favorite use of the song during this time was The Wrestlers cover in 1985 with Roddy Piper, Vince McMahon, Jesse “The Body” Ventura and many of the other WWF Superstars popular during the Rock & Wrestling Connection era of the 1980s. There are even cameos from the late Meatloaf and also Cyndi Lauper (as Mona Flambe’) in a black wig and sunglasses, in the video. But this version, too, was based on the Wilson Pickett masterpiece.

My point is, people are always talking about timeless music, and If I put this record on today for a bunch of high school teens, even though they would have no idea what The Pony is or how to Boney Maroney, they would certainly be doing The Gritty and The Jerk to it on TikTok. (No, not The Jerk that would’ve been popular when this song was originally released.) 

So, over 50 years later, after many covers by huge names in the music business, Wilson Pickett’s version remains relevant and dominant, which keeps Wilson in the conversation as one of the greatest soul singers of any generation.

And, like I said, this is where it all begins and ends:

Land of 1000 Dances

Mustang-SallyWilson Pickett
00:00 / 03:05

January 2022 - MUSTANG SALLY

A word on Wilson's music 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. 

Mustang-SallyWilson Pickett
00:00 / 03:05

April 2022 - In the Midnight Hour

A word on Wilson's music from Shane Delancey

Sometimes you’re a fan and don’t even know it. 

 

I had heard of Wilson Pickett and I knew he was a big deal. I could also sing along to Land of 1000 Dances and Mustang Sally with the best of them. But, for some reason, I was well into my twenties before I put it all together.

 

Now, today, I recognize Wilson as the influential and legendary soul singer that he is but, when I was younger, in my mind, Wilson was a blues singer, like B.B. King or Buddy Guy. I don’t know why or how that impression made its mark in my brain but that’s what I thought. I also thought I didn’t know any of his songs.

 

In the mid-nineties, I went to see some friends of mine performing in a Halloween themed music show. A performer dressed up as a wolfman came onstage and I remember thinking how clever it was when he began singing In The Midnight Hour. Then, my friend sitting next to me said, “Man, I love this Wilson Pickett song!” What??? In that very moment, I realized that Wilson Pickett was not the artist I thought he was. That is also the only memory I have of that Halloween show. 

 

This was back in the days before the internet so I couldn’t jump on Google or ask Alexa to play me some Wilson Pickett songs. So, when I left the show, and I swear this is a true story, I drove to Media Play, a retail store that used to sell music and movies, and searched for a Wilson Pickett CD. Let me tell you, when I found Wilson Pickett’s Greatest Hits, flipped it over to the back cover and looked at the track list, I could’ve been the star of that ‘80s horror movie, Scanners, where people’s heads kept exploding because I couldn’t believe what I was reading! These were songs I loved! Before this moment, I don’t know who the hell I thought sang the songs on this CD, but I felt like I was holding solid gold in my hand.

 

Unfortunately, it might as well have been solid gold because I was broke and couldn’t afford the CD but I turned off the radio in my car and sang Pickett songs all the way home. 

Hey-JudeWilson Pickett
00:00 / 04:05

 FEBRUARY 2022 - HEY JUDE

A word on Wilson's music 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.”