If there’s ever a song that will automatically put me in a good mood, it’s Wilson Pickett’s version of “Land of 1,000 Dances”. The song is bursting with energy that practically blows from the speakers. Paul McCartney might have the most famous count-off in rock history at the beginning of “I Saw Her Standing There”, but Pickett’s count-off comes in at a close second in my book. The sexual urgency in his voice as he calls out, “One two, three” not once, but twice is only hints at things to come.
Pickett’s band takes off in full flight. There’s a slight hint of chaos, but they’re so tight. The refrain of Charlie Chalmers and Andrew Love’s tenor saxophone playing can barely keep up with Pickett as he shouts out the differences dances. Then of course there’s the famous “na na na na na” refrain (which wasn’t in the original version by Chris Kenner). If there was ever a song that demanded audience participation, it’s Pickett’s version.
I first came across the song in The Great Outdoors (that ludicrous movie starring John Candy and Dan Aykroyd). Come to think of it, Dan Aykroyd is probably responsible for exposing me to soul music in general with the Blues Brothers. For years I always referred to it as “that song from The Great Doors‘. Luckily, I don’t have that problem now.
As if the song couldn’t be any cooler, Patti Smith also includes several lines from the song in her song “Land” of her debut Horses.