Land of a Thousand Dances

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"Land of 1000 Dances"
Single by Chris Kenner
B-side "That's My Girl"
ReleasedOctober 1962 (October 1962)
Genre Rhythm and blues
Label Instant
Songwriter(s) Chris Kenner
Chris Kenner singles chronology
"Let Me Show You How (To Twist)"
"Land of 1000 Dances"
"Come Back and See"
"Land of 1000 Dances"
Single by Cannibal & the Headhunters
from the album Land of 1000 Dances
B-side "I'll Show You How to Love Me"
ReleasedFebruary 1965 (February 1965)
Genre Rock and roll
Label Rampart
Songwriter(s) Chris Kenner
Cannibal & the Headhunters singles chronology
"Land of 1000 Dances"
"Nau Ninny Nau"

"Land of a Thousand Dances" (or "Land of 1000 Dances") is a song written and first recorded by Chris Kenner in 1962. It later became a bigger hit in versions by Cannibal & the Headhunters and Wilson Pickett.



The original Chris Kenner recording, which peaked at No. 77 on the Billboard chart in 1963, mentions 16 dances: the Pony, the Chicken, the Mashed Potato, the Alligator, the Watusi, the Twist, the Fly, the Jerk, the Tango, the Yo-Yo, the Sweet Pea, the Hand jive, the Slop, the Bop, the Fish, and the Popeye. Kenner's original recording included a brief, gospel-influenced, a capella introduction with the words: "Children, go where I send you / (Where will you send me?) / I'm gon' send you to that land / the land of a thousand dances." This 18 seconds was left off the single release to facilitate radio airplay, and the phrase "Land of 1000 Dances" never appeared in any subsequent recording.

Cannibal and the Headhunters version

The song is famous for its "na na na na na" hook, which Cannibal & the Headhunters added in their 1965 version, which reached number 30 on the Billboard chart. [1] The hook gave the song further notoriety. The "na na na na na" hook happened by accident when Frankie "Cannibal" Garcia, lead singer of Cannibal and the Headhunters, forgot the lyrics. [2] The melody to this section was also created spontaneously, as it is not in Chris Kenner's original track. The "na na na na na" hook was later borrowed in the 1994 song "Here Comes the Hotstepper" by Jamaican artist Ini Kamoze. [3]

Wilson Pickett version

"Land of 1000 Dances"
Single by Wilson Pickett
from the album The Exciting Wilson Pickett
B-side "You're So Fine"
ReleasedJuly 1966 (July 1966)
RecordedMay 11, 1966, FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Genre Rhythm and blues
Label Atlantic
Songwriter(s) Chris Kenner
Wilson Pickett singles chronology
"Ninety Nine and a Half (Won't Do)"
"Land of 1000 Dances"
"Mustang Sally"

The song's best-known version was by Wilson Pickett, who recorded the song during his first set of sessions at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, [4] backed by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and the Memphis Horns. (He had previously recorded in Memphis.) His recording was released as a single and appeared on his album, The Exciting Wilson Pickett . The single became his third Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 1 hit and his biggest ever pop hit, peaking at No. 6. [5] In 1988 a re-recorded version by Pickett was featured in the end credits for The Great Outdoors . In 1989, the earlier Pickett version was ranked number 152 on Dave Marsh's list of The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. [6] Pickett's version appears in a 2017 TV commercial for Hulu.


Other recordings


Chris Kenner version

Chart (1963)Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 77

Cannibal and the Headhunters version

Chart (1965)Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 30

Wilson Pickett version

Chart (1966) [8] [9] Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles 1
UK Singles Chart 22

Ted Nugent version

Chart (1981)Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 47


Several artists have sampled the Wilson Pickett version of "Land of 1000 Dances", especially Pickett's grunts and vocal outbursts during the drum break. Some of them appear on this list, but it is not exhaustive.

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  2. 1 2 Shannon, Bob; John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York: Warner Books. pp. 94–95. ISBN   0-446-38171-3.
  3. "Daddy Yankee's Nicky Jam Collaboration "Muévelo" Is His Latest Flip Of A '90s Hit". Genius. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  4. 1 2 White, Adam; Fred Bronson (1993). The Billboard Book Of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits. New York: Billboard Books. p. 22. ISBN   0-8230-8285-7.
  5. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 461.
  6. "Land of 1000 Dances". Archived from the original on 2013-07-12. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
  7. Pickett, Wilson, The Exciting Wilson Pickett, Atlantic #8129, released 1966. Notes from Atlantic CD released 1993
  8. "The Exciting Wilson Pickett - Billboard singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
  9. "Wilson Pickett - Land of 1000 Dances" . Retrieved 2008-08-06.