Wilson Pickett (In The Midnight Hour, Land of 1,000 Dances, Mustang Sally) died of a heart attack on January 20 at the age of 64. He was totally sweet. It's really sad that he died, but it's a good excuse to rave about one of my favorite songs of all time, his cover of Hey Jude.
He recorded Hey Jude at Muscle Shoals Studio, in Alabama, after playing for most of his career on Stax Records, with Booker T and the MGs. The first time I heard it I really wasn't so sure about it because he really, really souls up the vocals in that way that can tire you out (you know, like when people really over-soul the Star-Spangled Banner). But upon several listens, I got pretty addicted.
It starts out pretty tame, just going through the motions of Hey Jude. Then this AMAZING bass line comes in and makes it all funky. And when they hit the bridge, the horns come in and swing it a little, and the bass is really solid and does this great staggered rhythm. And we go through this a few times, and then Pickett just wails, and the outro hits really hard. And Pickett's just screaming, and Duane Allman kicks out these totally awesome guitar lines, and the bass and drums are driving really hard, but the horns keep swinging! And Pickett just keeps screaming, and if you're wearing headphones, you can faintly hear in the background a chorus of female singers really low in the mix doing the whole "na na na na" thing, and the fact that it's hard to hear just makes it that much more awesome. And it just fades out like that and you can hear Wilson saying "It's gonna be all right" but at this point you just don't care because you're just astounded at how much that song rocked you. And then if you're me, you hit repeat and turn it up some more.
Anyway, the world will miss you, Wilson Pickett, but thanks for totally wailing and recording it for us. Because that song is AWESOME. (this entry is from my son’s blog)
Pickett’s Hey Jude is on three CDs in the library collection: In the Midnight Hour: and Other Hits, A Man and a Half: the Best of Wilson Pickett, and The Very Best of Wilson Pickett.