Music Friday: Elvis Presley Covers Ray Charles’ ‘Unintended’ Hit, ‘What’d I Say,’ in ‘Viva Las Vegas’

Welcome to Music Friday when we feature toe-tapping tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we bring you Elvis Presley’s cover of Ray Charles’ classic 1959  song, “What’d I Say.” Presley famously performed the song in a sizzling dance number with co-star Ann-Margret for the 1964 hit movie, Viva Las Vegas.

elviswhatdisay

Fans of the film will remember the show-stopping scene where Presley and Ann-Margret — both wearing yellow — kick up their heels and shimmy their hips while Presley sings, “See the girl with the diamond ring, she knows how to shake that thing. All right, hey, hey.”

Although “What’d I Say” is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential songs in rock and roll history, Charles never intended to write it. He and his orchestra improvised it in 1958 when they had completed their play list and still had time remaining in their show. “What’d I Say” would include elements of rhythm and blues and boogie-woogie in a fun call-and-response repartee with his audience and the band.

The improvised song was so well received that Charles decided to record it in 1959. “What’d I Say” would become Charles’ first gold record, and for the rest of his career, the talented singer/songwriter/musician would close every concert with the song.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked “What’d I Say” #10 on the list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Check out Presley and Ann-Margret in the memorable dance scene from Viva Las Vegas. The choreography is vintage 1964, and awesome. The lyrics to “What’d I Say” are below if you’d like to sing along.

“What’d I Say”
Written by Ray Charles. Performed by Elvis Presley.

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

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

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