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|"In the Midnight Hour"|
|Single by Wilson Pickett|
|from the album In the Midnight Hour|
|B-side||"I'm Not Tired"|
|Recorded||May 12, 1965|
|Studio||Stax, Memphis, Tennessee|
"In the Midnight Hour" is a song originally performed by Wilson Pickett in 1965 and released on his 1965 album of the same name, also appearing on the 1966 album The Exciting Wilson Pickett . The song was composed by Pickett and Steve Cropper at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis, later (April 1968) the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.. Pickett's first hit on Atlantic Records,it reached number one on the R&B charts and peaked at number 21 on the pop charts.
Wilson Pickett recorded "In the Midnight Hour" at Stax Studios, Memphis, May 12, 1965. The song's co-writer Steve Cropper recalls: "[Atlantic Records president] Jerry Wexler said he was going to bring down this great singer Wilson Pickett" to record at Stax Studio where Cropper was a session guitarist "and I didn’t know what groups he'd been in or whatever. But I used to work in [a] record shop, and I found some gospel songs that Wilson Pickett had sung on. On a couple [at] the end, he goes: 'I'll see my Jesus in the midnight hour! Oh, in the midnight hour. I'll see my Jesus in the midnight hour.'" and Cropper got the idea of using the phrase "in the midnight hour" as the basis for an R&B song.More likely, Cropper was remembering The Falcons' 1962 song "I Found a Love," on which Pickett sings lead and says "And sometimes I call in the midnight hour!" The only gospel record Pickett had appeared on before this was the Violinaires' "Sign of the Judgement," which includes no such phrase.
Besides Cropper, the band on "In the Midnight Hour" featured Stax session regulars Al Jackson (drums) and Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass). According to Cropper, "Wexler was responsible for the track's innovative delayed backbeat", as Cropper revamped his planned groove for "In the Midnight Hour" based on a dance step called the Jerk, which Wexler demonstrated in the studio. According to Cropper, "this was the way the kids were dancing; they were putting the accent on two. Basically, we'd been one-beat-accenters with an afterbeat; it was like 'boom dah,' but here was a thing that went 'um-chaw,' just the reverse as far as the accent goes."
Pickett re-recorded the song for his 1987 album American Soul Man.
"In the Midnight Hour" reached number one on the R&B chart in Billboard magazine dated August 7, 1965 and crossed over to the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 reaching number 21: however according to Stax owner Jim Stewart the domestic sales total of the single in its original release was a moderate 300,000 units. One of the reasons, why the song failed to crack the top 20, was the fact that the song's title was too suggestive of sexuality in the after hours. 's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, Wilson Pickett's first of two entries on the list (the other being "Mustang Sally" at number 434). It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Pickett's only such entry. The song is currently ranked as the 175th greatest song of all time, as well as the eleventh best song of 1965, by Acclaimed Music. In 2017, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."However "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett has become an iconic R&B track, placing at number 134 on Rolling Stone
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