It's Your Thing

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"It's Your Thing"
Single by The Isley Brothers
from the album It's Our Thing
ReleasedFebruary 16, 1969
Format7" single
RecordedA&R Studios, New York City; January 1969
Songwriter(s)Ronald Isley
O'Kelly Isley, Jr.
Rudolph Isley
Producer(s)The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers singles chronology
"Put Yourself in My Place"
"It's Your Thing"
"I Turned You On"
Music video
"It's Your Thing" (audio only) on YouTube

"It's Your Thing" is a funk single by The Isley Brothers. Released in 1969, the funk anthem was an artistic response to Motown chief Berry Gordy's demanding hold on his artists after the Isleys left the label in late 1968.

The lyrics of the chorus, which also serve as first verse, run: "It's your thing/ Do what you wanna do/ I can't tell you/ Who to sock it to". The song is ranked #420 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.



After scoring one popular hit with the label with "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)", the Isleys felt typecast in the role as a second-tier act while well-established Detroit acts like The Temptations, The Miracles and the Four Tops got more promotion from the label Motown.

The brothers' decision to leave Motown came after a successful UK tour, where the brothers had a bigger fanbase than in America. A re-release of "This Old Heart" had reached number three on the UK pop singles chart. Similar success came with two more singles from their Motown catalog that were hits well after their Motown departure.

Berry Gordy allowed the brothers to leave the label, and the Isleys reactivated their own label, T-Neck Records, which they had originally started a few years prior to their Motown signing. For Buddah Records, the Isleys recorded "It's Your Thing" which Ronald wrote upon arriving home after taking his daughter Tawana to school. The lead singer said that he thought of the melody and some of the lyrics in his head. His older brothers O'Kelly and Rudolph helped compose more lyrics.

Release and reaction[edit]

Recorded in two takes and featuring the first appearance of 16-year-old Ernie on bass and Skip Pitts on guitar. The song was released as a single on February 16, 1969, and quickly rose to the top of both the Billboard pop and R&B singles charts, peaking at #2 on the former, (behind Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In by The 5th Dimension),[1] and marking their first #1 hit in the latter.[2] Upon the song's release and ascent to success, Gordy threatened to sue the group for releasing it in an attempt to bring them back to Motown, but he eventually cancelled his threat, and in February 1970 the brothers became the first former Motown act to win a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

Cover versions and legacy[edit]

Over 60 artists have recorded their own version of the song. A version was recorded by Memphis soul singer Ann Peebles for her 1969 debut album This Is Ann Peebles. Saxophonist Lou Donaldson recorded an instrumental version on his 1969 album Hot Dog. The same year, Atlantic recording artist Lotti Golden also recorded the song in a mash-up medley with "Sock It To Me Baby", to promote her Atlantic Records debut LP [3] The medley included the only two covers that Golden recorded as an artist. In 2000, the medley featuring "It's Your Thing," was reissued in an Atlantic compilation, with Golden as the sole female artist in the line up.[4]

The song has been credited for being one of the first fully-fledged funk songs at the time that such artists as James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone brought their own funk anthems to the scene. Brown interpolated the melody in his 1974 song "My Thang". Brown used the musical background from the song for the songs "It's My Thing (You Can't Tell Me Who To Sock It To)", an answer song by Marva Whitney, and Brown's own 1974 single, "My Thang".

Led Zeppelin would often perform an instrumental of the song in a medley format with "Communication Breakdown". Led Zeppelin included a four-bar snippet during the opening song sequence of their Playhouse Theater performance on June 27, 1969.[citation needed][when?]

In 1969 The Temptations recorded the song for on their Puzzle People album. The Jackson 5, who were not yet established artists, first performed the song at their television debut on the Miss Black America Pageant, later recording it during sessions for their ABC album. (It is not listed as a track on the album.)[vague] Aretha Franklin recorded the song for her 1982 album Jump to It. Former Motown label-mates The Supremes and the Four Tops recorded a duet version in 1971 that remained unreleased until 2009.

The song also has been heavily sampled by hip hop acts, most famously by rap group Salt-N-Pepa and DC go-go band E.U., who sampled it for "Shake Your Thang" (1988). Like many of their earlier singles, the song has been featured in commercials. Some Canadian commercials for the Ramada hotel chain have featured a cover version of "It's Your Thing", modified so the lyrics say "Do Your Thing" instead.

Lou Donaldson's cover has also been sampled for multiple tracks, mostly hip-hop, including Ghetto Red Hot by Super Cat, Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down by Brand Nubian, Bitties in the BK Lounge by De La Soul and Six Million Ways to Die by Funkmaster Flex.[5]

The 1989 album Girl You Know It's True by Milli Vanilli also contains a cover of this song.

The song was covered by H-Town on the 1993 soundtrack album Addams Family Values: Music from the Motion Picture.

The song "Power" by Kanye West uses a sample from "It's Your Thing" in his 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Adriano Celentano's "Prisencolinensinainciusol", which was released three years later, has a very similar feel and chord structure.[citation needed][6]

Walk the Moon covered the song on their 2015 Different Colors EP.[citation needed]

It appears in the 1999 movie Muppets from Space, the ending of the 2016 movie Sausage Party and the beginning of the 2017 movie Smurfs: The Lost Village, as well as in the teaser trailer for DreamWorks Animation's 2017 movie The Boss Baby.[citation needed]

It also appears in the English version of the adult animated film Bad Cat.



  1. ^
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 54.
  3. ^ "SpecialRelease". Record Store Day. April 16, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  4. ^ "SpecialRelease". Record Store Day. April 16, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  5. ^ "Samples of It's Your Thing by Lou Donaldson". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  6. ^ Prisencolinensinainciusol (with lyrics) on YouTube

External links[edit]