Be Thankful for What You Got
|"Be Thankful for What You Got"|
|Single by William DeVaughn|
|from the album Be Thankful for What You Got|
|B-side||"Be Thankful for What You Got, Part 2"|
|Producer(s)||Frank Fioravanti, John Davis|
DeVaughn wrote "A Cadillac Don't Come Easy", eventually re-written to become "Be Thankful for What You Got" in 1972, and spent $900 toward it under a development agreement, under which an artist will record a few initial demos or tracks where, if successfully approved, the company may reserve the right to extend the arrangement to Omega Sound, a Philadelphia production house, and release the song. Producers Frank Fioravanti and saxophonist, and MFSB session group member, John Davis decided to go for a strong groove with a smooth, almost jazzy arrangement, eventually booking time to record at Sigma Sound Studio in Philadelphia.
The session featured members of the MFSB group — guitarist Norman Harris, drummer Earl Young, bassist Ron Baker, and vibist Vince Montana — secured by Allan Felder, who also developed the separate ad lib back-up chorus with his sister's vocal choir. Frank Fioravanti then secured the song's release on the Roxbury Records record label, run by producer-songwriter Wes Farrell.
The record sold nearly two million copies on its release in spring of 1974, reaching #1 on the U.S. R&B charts and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With a sound and content influenced by Curtis Mayfield (and often erroneously attributed to him), its simple and encouraging lyrics hit home, to the extent that it became featured on gospel radio stations.
The edited version, which is the first part of the song, became a hit. The other half of the song is a longer instrumental with the repeated chords and rhythm before the final chorus comes in. The song is seven minutes long and radio stations preferred the sung portions over the instrumental portions.
The song is noted for its repeated line: "Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin' the scene, with a gangsta lean".
DeVaughn would later remake the song on his second album Figures Can't Calculate.
The song was also referenced in the late guitarist Gabor Szabo's 1976 song, "Keep Smiling," except the "diamond in the back" lyric was changed to "digging the scene with a Philly lean," possibly referring to the song's co-author and producer (and Vaughn's Philadelphia International Records label-mate) Bunny Sigler.
The B-Side of the single entitled "Diamond in the Back" was the same title adopted by Ludacris in 2004.
The song was covered in 1974 by Arthur Lee and Love on their Reel to Real album; Reggae versions were done by Donovan Carless in 1974, Bunny Clarke (produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry) in 1975, and by Winston Curtis in 1984 (on World International Records); in 1991 by the British trip hop band Massive Attack on their album Blue Lines, in 1993 by Portrait on the soundtrack album Addams Family Values: Music from the Motion Picture, by Peter Blakeley as the opening theme for the movie The Taking of Beverly Hills, by Yo La Tengo on its 1997 "Little Honda" EP and by Lawrence "Lipbone" Redding on his 2009 Science of Bootyism album.
The song has been covered by Rumer (musician) in her EP "Love is the Answer".
Also covered by vibes player Craig Peyton for Profile Records 1983, electro sequencer arrangement.
The song was also covered by Cleveland Watkiss on "Blessing in Disguise" (Polydor 1991).
Massive Attack version
Massive Attack's cover version, retitled "Be Thankful for What You've Got", was featured on their 1991 debut album Blue Lines. A music video was produced for the song; however, it was not released as a stand-alone commercial single. Instead, a remix by Paul Oakenfold was also included on their 1992 single release Massive Attack EP.
Massive Attack EP track listing:
- "Hymn of the Big Wheel" (Nellee Hooper Remix) – 4:47
- "Home of the Whale" – 4:02
- "Be Thankful for What You've Got" (Paul Oakenfold Remix) – 4:36
- "Any Love" (Larry Heard Remix) – 4:27
|"Be Thankful for What You've Got"|
|Single by Lipbone Redding|
|from the album Science of Bootyism EP|
|Released||April 21, 2009|
6:12 (long version)
|Producer(s)||Jeff Eyrich for Lipbone Redding|
Lipbone Redding version
Lawrence "Lipbone" Redding's cover version, "Be Thankful for What You Got", appeared on his 2009 EP Lipbone Redding and the LipBone Orchestra: Science of Bootyism, BePop Records. The EP contains two versions of the song.
- Nathan, David. Notes for William DeVaughn: Be Thankful for What You Got: A Golden Classics Edition. Collectables [sic] CD COL-5271. Collectables [sic] Record Corp., 1994.