Friday Song: "Mustang Sally"

A barroom staple, the song was almost lost, and Aretha Franklin helped name it properly

Friday Song: "Mustang Sally"

Note: This post is being published on “Mad About Music” as well today.

Wilson Pickett is usually associated with “Mustang Sally,” a funky blues number from the 1960s. But his involvement came after its initial release, and required all sorts of inside-music coincidences to transpire.

Originally written by Bonny Rice (Sir Mack Rice) when he was a member of the group the Falcons, the song was first called “Mustang Mama.” When Aretha Franklin heard it for the first time, and the chorus (“Ride, Sally, ride”), she suggested the better title would be “Mustang Sally.” She was right.

A few years later, Rice was performing on an evening when the headliner didn’t show, but Pickett was there, so he asked Pickett to pinch hit. Pickett heard Rice perform “Mustang Sally,” and decided he wanted to record it, too.

The production facility in Muscle Shoals, AL, was just coming into its heyday, so the session musicians involved in Pickett’s recording were superb. However, when the final version of the song was recorded, the tape flew off the reel at the end and split on the floor. The sound engineer asked everyone to leave, and taped it all back together, giving us the famous version we know now.

The song has been played a million times in a million bars, and has somewhat of a stigma because of it. Yet, it remains infectious and popular. Some songs can withstand anything.