Land of a Thousand Dances

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"Land of a Thousand Dances"
Single by Cannibal and the Headhunters
from the album Land of 1000 Dances
B-side "I'll Show You How to Love Me"
Released 1965 (1965)
Format Vinyl
Genre Rock n Roll
Label Rampart
Writer(s) Chris Kenner

"Land of a Thousand Dances" (or "Land of 1000 Dances") is a song written and first recorded by Chris Kenner in 1963. The song is famous for its "na na na na na" hook, which Cannibal & the Headhunters added in their 1965 version, which reached number 30 on the Billboard chart.[1] The song was covered by Danny & The Memories. The song's best-known version was Wilson Pickett's 1966 recording on his album, which became an R&B #1 and his biggest ever pop hit. Some releases of the song credit Antoine "Fats" Domino as a co-author of the song with Kenner. Domino agreed to record the song in exchange for half of the song's royalties.[2] Other notable recordings include Roy Orbison, Little Richard, Ted Nugent, The Kingsmen, Patti Smith, Bill Haley & His Comets (which includes a spoken introduction by Big Joe Turner), and Electric Indian. An ensemble performance by members of the then-World Wrestling Federation was included on The Wrestling Album in 1985; although they do perform on the song, the music video for the track includes appearances by Cyndi Lauper, Meat Loaf and Rick Derringer. The song is also covered in the Australian film The Sapphires.

The "na na na na na" hook happened by accident when Frankie "Cannibal" Garcia, lead singer of Cannibal and the Headhunters, forgot the lyrics.[2] The melody to this section was also created spontaneously, as it is not in Chris Kenner's original track.

The original Chris Kenner recording mentions 16 dances: the Pony, the Chicken, the Mashed Potato, the Alligator, the Watusi, the Twist, the Fly, the Jerk, the Tango, the Yo-Yo, the Sweet Pea, the Hand jive, the Slop, the Bop, the Fish, and the Popeye.

The lyrics mention many dances, but don't contain the song's actual title. Kenner's original recording included a brief, gospel-influenced, a capella introduction with the words: "Children, go where I send you / (Where will you send me?) / I'm gon' send you to that land / the land of a thousand dances." This eighteen seconds was left off the single release to facilitate radio airplay, and the phrase "Land of 1000 Dances" never appeared in any subsequent recording.

Wilson Pickett version[edit]

"Land of 1000 Dances"
Single by Wilson Pickett
from the album The Exciting Wilson Pickett
B-side "You're So Fine"
Released 1966 (1966)
Format Vinyl
Recorded May 11, 1966, Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:28
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Chris Kenner
Wilson Pickett singles chronology
"Ninety Nine and a Half (Won't Do)"
(1966)
"Land of 1000 Dances"
(1966)
"Mustang Sally"
(1966)

Wilson Pickett recorded the song during his first set of sessions at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.[3] (He had previously recorded in Memphis.) His recording was released as a single and appeared on his album, The Exciting Wilson Pickett. The single became his third R&B #1 and his biggest ever pop hit, peaking at #6.[4] In 1988 a re-recorded version by Pickett was featured in the end credits for The Great Outdoors. In 1989, the earlier Pickett version was ranked number 152 on Dave Marsh's list of The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made.[5]

Personnel:

"Land of a Thousand Dances"
Single by Ted Nugent
from the album Intensities in 10 Cities
Released 1981
Genre Rock
Length 4:39
Label Epic
Writer(s) Fats Domino/Chris Kenner
Ted Nugent singles chronology
"Jailbait"
(1981)
"Land of a Thousand Dances"
(1981)
"The Flying Lip Lock"
(1981)
Intensities in 10 Cities track listing
"The Flying Lip Lock"
(7)
"Land of a Thousand Dances"
(8)
"The TNT Overture"
(9)

Charts[edit]

Cannibal and the Headhunters version

Chart (1965) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 30

Wilson Pickett version

Chart (1966)[6][7] Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 22
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles 1

Ted Nugent version

Chart (1981) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 47

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 101. 
  2. ^ a b Shannon, Bob; John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York: Warner Books. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-446-38171-3. 
  3. ^ a b White, Adam; Fred Bronson (1993). The Billboard Book Of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits. New York: Billboard Books. p. 22. ISBN 0-8230-8285-7. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 461. 
  5. ^ "Land of 1000 Dances". Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  6. ^ "The Exciting Wilson Pickett - Billboard singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  7. ^ "Wilson Pickett - Land of 1000 Dances". Retrieved 2008-08-06. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
September 17, 1966
Succeeded by
"Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" by The Temptations