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I Say a Little Prayer

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"I Say a Little Prayer" (sometimes erroneously rendered as "I Say a Little Prayer for You") is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick, originally peaking at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in December 1967.[1]


 [hide*1 Background


The song was Dionne Warwick's second single from her Scepter Records album The Windows of the World, following the LP's title track. The tune reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 on the Billboard R & B Chart in December 1967, and No. 4 on the Canadian Charts and was a certified US million seller by the RIAA. The single later appeared on the LP Dionne Warwick's Golden Hits, Part Two and is considered one of Warwick's signature songs. The flip or "B-side" of the single (Theme from) Valley of the Dolls was also a million seller and rode the No. 2 position for 4 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and CashBox singles chart and the # 1 position on the Record World Top 40 Chart in February 1968.

"I Say a Little Prayer" b/w "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls", became one of the most successful double-sided hits of the Rock era. Like several Bacharach compositions, both sides contains passages written in unusual time signatures. The verses of "Prayer" are constructed of 2 successive measures of 4/4, a measure of 10/4 (using 4/4 + 2/4 + 4/4), and 2 final measures of 4/4. The chorus is in 11/4 (using 4/4 + 3/4 + 4/4).

Other recordings[edit]Edit

  • Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer" did not appear on the Billboard Easy Listening chart although two instrumental versions of the song were Easy Listening chart items in 1968: the first bySérgio Mendes at No. 21 in the spring of 1968 while that fall Julius Wechter and the Baja Marimba Band took "I Say a Little Prayer" to No. 10 Easy Listening.
  • "I Say a Little Prayer" also returned to the Pop & R&B Top Ten in the fall of 1968 via a recording by Aretha Franklin taken from her 1968 Aretha Now album: Franklin and background vocalists the Sweet Inspirations were singing the song for fun while rehearsing the songs intended for the album and the viability of Franklin actually recording "I Say a Little Prayer" became apparent.[2] Significantly re-invented the from the format of the Dionne Warwick original via the prominence of Clayton Ivey's piano work and the choral vocals of the Sweet Inspirations, the Aretha Franklin version was intended as the B-side of the July 1968 single release "The House that Jack Built" but began to accrue its own airplay that August. Even with "The House That Jack Built" ranking as high as No. 6 (#2 R&B) in September 1968, "I Say a Little Prayer" reached No. 10 (#3 R&B) that October, the same month the single was certified Gold by the RIAA. Franklin's version of "I Say a Little Prayer" has a special significance in her UK career, as with its September 1968 No. 4 peak it became Franklin's biggest UK hit; subsequently Franklin has surpassed that track's UK peak only with her No. 1 collaboration with George Michael: "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". In February 1987 UK music weeklyNew Musical Express published its critics' top 150 singles of all time, with Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer" ranked at No. 1, followed by Al Green's "Tired of Being Alone" and Warwick's "Walk on By". (Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer" did not appear in the magazine's in-house critics' top 100 singles poll conducted in November 2002.)
  • In 2009 the song was covered by Dianna Agron in the episode Showmance on Glee
  • In Australia, "I Say a Little Prayer" and "The House That Jack Built" were assigned a joint chart ranking which saw the double-A-side hit reach No. 10 in November 1968. "I Say a Little Prayer" also gave Franklin a European hit with chartings in France (#12), Germany (#29) and the Netherlands (#4).
  • The 1971 album Anne Murray / Glen Campbell features a medley of "I Say a Little Prayer" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"; the songs are sung in counterpoint to each other, with Murray vocalizing on "I Say a Little Prayer" while Campbell reprises his "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" hit. The track was a minor C&W hit at No. 40 and reached No. 81 on the BillboardHot 100. The concept had previously been used on a 1968 single release by Big Dee Irwin and Mamie Galore and was subsequently reworked when Dionne Warwick herself sang "I Say a Little Prayer" while Isaac Hayes sang "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on their joint live album A Man and a Woman (1977).
  • The song is also a popular soundtrack item: in the 1969 comedy The April Fools, for which Warwick sang the title song,"I Say a Little Prayer" is performed at a swanky house party in a live performance by singer Susan Barrett. "I Say a Little Prayer" is one of several Bacharach/David songs featured prominently in the comedy My Best Friend's Wedding in 1997, which featured both a reggae-style cover by Diana King and a version sung by the film's cast. King's version was released as a single and brought the song back to the Top 40 almost thirty years after Dionne Warwick's original, albeit with a No. 38 peak; King's single also reached No. 38 in France.

Cassie Henderson, 14, sung this song for Soul Week on The X-Factor NZ Season 1 Episode 16.

Other recorded versions[edit]Edit

  • Martha and the Vandellas on their 1968 album Ridin' High.
  • Rahsaan Roland Kirk on his 1969 album Volunteered Slavery.
  • Eija Merilä in Finnish as "Iät Ja Ajat" in 1972.
  • Al Green on his 1978 album Truth n' Time (reissued on The Right Stuff Records label), as well as "The Very Best of Al Green" (Music Club label) in 2001.
  • UK dance act Bomb the Bass in 1988.
  • Mary Black on her 1989 album No Frontiers.
  • Karine Costa in 2002: a No. 16 hit in France which also charted Swiss charts at #82: this version was used in a television advertising campaign for the Crédit mutuel.
  • The BossHoss in 2006: a minor German hit (#79). In 2012, the group re-recorded this song as a collaboration with Ivy Quainoo, the first winner of The Voice of Germany.
  • Trijntje Oosterhuis on her 2006 album The Look of Love.
  • In Mexico, the song was covered by girl-group Pandora. The version is called "Rezo Una Oracion Por Ti", literally translated.
  • In Mexico, the song was covered by Enrique Guzmán. The version is called "Una pequeña oración", in 1978.
  • In Mexico, the song was covered by Julissa. The version is called "Mi pequeña oración". In 1963.
  • In 1978, Spanish singer Paloma San Basilio performed this song in her live album "Paloma San Basilio en directo".
  • This song was covered and used in the television show Glee. It was sung by Dianna Agron in her character as Quinn Fabray as her audition song to join New Directions.
  • Zeds Dead, a Canadian electronic music duo sampled this song for their track titled "Coffee Break" in or around 2011.

See also[edit]Edit

Preceded by

"Where Do We Go from Here" by Hank Smith

RPM Country Tracks

number-one single (Anne Murray and Glen Campbell version) 4 December 1971[3]

Succeeded by

"Lead Me On" by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

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