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Tell Me Something Good

by

Rufus



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Stevie Wonder wrote this song and recorded it himself on December 13, 1973 - he copyrighted it on January 3, 1974. His version was never released, as he gave it to Rufus, since Stevie was a fan of their lead singer, Chaka Khan. Around this time, Wonder was turning many of his best songs over to female singers with otherworldly voices: Aretha Franklin recorded his "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" and Minnie Riperton did "Lovin' You."

The story Chaka Khan tells is that Wonder was going to bring them a song in the studio, and when he dropped by and played her the song, she stunned her bandmates by telling the mighty Stevie Wonder she didn't like it; Chaka says she was 19 and pregnant, so she was a little prickly at the time. Wonder asked her astrological sign, and when she told him Aries, he delivered "Tell Me Something Good." According to Chaka, she loved it and they worked out the song together in the studio, although Stevie is the only credited writer on the song.
Rufus evolved from a group called The American Breed, who had a hit with "Bend Me, Shape Me." They took their name from a column in Popular Mechanics magazine called "Ask Rufus," later shortened to Rufus when Chaka Khan joined the band in 1972.
Chaka says that Wonder coached her through the song: "I started singing the way I would have worked through it... and he said, 'No, no, no, sing it like THIS!"
A wah-wah pedal was used on the guitar, but that's not what created the distorted "tell me" vocal in the chorus. That was done with a talkbox, an electronic device that allows the guitarist to "talk" by modulating sounds made through a tube that goes from his mouth to the device and into the output of the guitar's amp. Peter Frampton made the talkbox famous on the live versions of his hits "Show Me The Way" and "Do You Feel Like I Do?"
This was the first and only hit credited to Rufus. Since her powerful vocals were clearly the focus of the group, they became known as Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan for their next album. In 1984, Chaka went solo.
Rufus
More Rufus songs
More songs written by Stevie Wonder
More songs featuring a talkbox

Comments (9):

This is one of my favorite songs. It always puts me in a good mood when I am down.
- Beth, N/A, VA
Did Rufus's drummer Andre Fisher actually play on this, cause the drums feel just like Stevie (who is my all time fav drummer)? Perhaps Andre knew what Stevie wanted and Stevie coached him to play like that. The way the have mic'd the drum kit sounds like Stevie's sound as well.
- Art, London, United Kingdom
One of my favorites from '74. It takes me back to a fantastic summer.
- PAUL, Detroit, MI
Chaka Khan is sooooo great--she has one of the best voices of all time.
- bob, hallanedale, FL
Rufus and Chaka Khan were a perfect match. This is a great a song but not even their best. They were just as good at smoldering ballads such as "Sweet Thing" and "Hollywood" as they were at funk numbers like "You Got the Love" and "At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)"
- Scott, Palm Desert, CA
I'd never heard of this song before until they played part of it on the radio during a "Will & Grace" episode. Karen mentions that her husband, Stanley, always plays it when they're making love. Just thought I'd mention that here..
- Nadine, Riverside, CA
Dime algo beuno is tell me something good in spanish
- RobB, Williamstown, NJ 08094, NJ
During the verse, the vocals and bass fall on the up beat while on the chorus the vocals and bass are on the downbeat.
- Brian, La Mesa, CA
one of the "coolest" top 40 hits of the 70's....
remember it playing in the 7th grade classroom
in '74, and the lyrical context being laughable
as the teacher walked in as the chorus was being sung.........probably the worst lyric you can get caught playing on the radio as the teacher walked back in the room...
- Scott, chicago, IL
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