500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

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Wilson Pickett, 'In the Midnight Hour'

135. Wilson Pickett, 'In the Midnight Hour'

Writers: Pickett, Steve Cropper
Producers: Jerry Wexler, Jim Stewart
Released: July '65, Atlantic
12 weeks; No. 21

Pickett's first two singles for Atlantic were recorded in New York, and they flopped. "I told Jerry Wexler I didn't want to be recorded this way anymore," Pickett said. "I said I heard a song by Otis Redding out of Memphis, and that's the direction I wanted to take." Pickett soon headed south. He and Cropper wrote "In the Midnight Hour" in the Lorraine Hotel, (where Martin Luther King, Jr. would later be assassinated), and while they were cutting the song, an idea shot Wexler out of his seat.

"I was shaking my booty to a groove made popular by the Larks' 'The Jerk,' a mid-Sixties hit," wrote Wexler. "The idea was to push the second beat while holding back the fourth." And a soul classic was born.

Appears on: The Very Best of Wilson Pickett (Rhino)


The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Wilson Pickett

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