The Things That I Used to Do
|"The Things That I Used to Do"|
|Single by Guitar Slim|
|B-side||"Well, I Done Got Over It"|
|Recorded||October 16, 1953|
|Studio||Matassa's J&M Studio, New Orleans|
|Songwriter(s)||Eddie Jones a.k.a. Guitar Slim|
|Guitar Slim singles chronology|
"The Things That I Used to Do" is a 12-bar blues song written by Guitar Slim. His recording of it, made in New Orleans, was arranged and produced by the young Ray Charles. It was released by Specialty Records in 1953 and became a bestseller the following year. It was one of the biggest hits in the label's history and stayed on the rhythm and blues charts for 42 weeks. The song was at number one for six weeks and was the best-selling R&B record of the year, selling more than a million copies.
Since Guitar Slim was a blues artist, Art Rupe, of Specialty Records, figured that his appeal would be limited to the Southern rural audience. However, urban R&B stations in the North picked up the song, building it into a national hit. As a result, Guitar Slim became in great demand as a performer and played at the Apollo Theater.
Composition and recording
Charles's arrangement and piano accompaniment emphasize the religious tone of intense but philosophical regret in the singer's voice, giving the song a gospel-influenced feel. Like Fats Domino, Guitar Slim had a voice with a less adult sound than that of the typical blues shouters of the time, and his lyrics are less explicitly sexual.
The song required numerous takes to record. Jones often stopped playing in the middle of the song for some reason, and they had to start from the beginning again. (Even in the take which was issued, Jones resumed the vocal after the instrumental chorus half a bar early, singing and playing two beats ahead of the band for the first eight bars of the final chorus.) During the song's fadeout Charles shouted "yeah!" as he realized that they had finally managed to make it to the end.
The song was a huge success, greatly influencing rock and roll by demonstrating the commercial success of using content that appeals to white listeners and by the effectiveness of its gospel feel. It has become a standard as a result of Guitar Slim's distinctive guitar figuring and the rising and falling melody. It had a major impact on the "electric sound" of rock music and featured distorted overtones on the electric guitar a full decade before Jimi Hendrix. It has been listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll. It also contributed to the development of soul music.
The song has been covered by many artists:
|"The Things That I Used to Do"|
|Single by James Brown|
|from the album Showtime|
|B-side||"Out of the Blue"|
|Genre||Rhythm and blues|
|Songwriter(s)||Eddie (Guitar Slim) Jones|
|James Brown charting singles chronology|
- Albert Collins
- Ike & Tina Turner
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Junior Parker
- Muddy Waters
- Lightnin' Slim
- Jimi Hendrix
- Freddie King
- Chuck Berry
- Big Joe Turner, 1977
- Elvin Bishop and the Grateful Dead, in performance only, 1969
- G. Love and Special Sauce, 1994
- Buddy Guy
- Luther Allison
- John Mayer
- Dan Auerbach, with his pre–Black Keys band, the Barnburners
- Richie Havens
- James Brown, whose 1964 recording charted at number 99 on the Billboard pop chart
- Van Morrison (2018)
- Aswell, Tom (2010). Louisiana Rocks! The True Genesis of Rock & Roll. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing. pp. 61–65. ISBN 1589806778.
- Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll (2nd ed.). New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 139–140, 170. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
- Watrous, Peter (August 19, 1990). "A Young Blues Guitarist Intent on Modernization". New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
- "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1995. Archived from the original on 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
- Unterberger, Richie (1996). "Louisiana Blues". In Erlewine, Michael. All Music Guide to the Blues. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. pp. 360–361. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.
- "Sung by Elvin Bishop with the Grateful Dead on 8 June 1969". Deaddisc.com. Retrieved 2006-11-05.
- White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time CD booklet. pp. 54–59). New York: PolyGram Records.