Toggle navigation Welcome Guest. Tell Mama by Etta James. Album: Tell Mama The phrase "tell mama" is used to show compassion and comfort to someone who is upset. In this song, a guy has gone through a rough breakup, and Etta James is there for support, asking him to "tell mama all about it.
This was originally recorded by the blind soul singer Clarence Carter earlier in as "Tell Daddy. She changed the gender, and the song got a powerful Muscle Shoals arrangement to help make it a hit. By , Fame Studios and their stable of musicians had a great reputation, with hits by Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to their credit. They wanted her to record where there was a chance of getting a hit, but also where she would be isolated from a lot of the temptations and distractions that go on in Chicago or New York or somewhere.
So they brought her down to Fame with Rick Hall. I believe Rick is the producer listed on those sessions. I think Phil and Leonard Chess both came at different times, because there were several sessions.
We didn't know it at the time, but Etta was pregnant. I just thought she was fat. When Leonard Chess heard the song for the first time, he left the room in tears. In her autobiography, Rage To Survive , James recalled how she had helped her friend Ellington Jordan complete the song.
For a time in the 70s she returned to Chess Records to do desk work, though drugs and drink remained a lifelong blight. Happily, however, she had a career revival in the 90s.
Listen to the sister and you are stroked and ravaged at the same time. A voice, a spirit, a soul, that is immortal. Discover the best Chess Records singles of all time. Oxford University Press. ISBN All Time Top Albums 3rd ed. Virgin Books. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter link.
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