Do You Want To Dance

Album: Do You Wanna Dance (1958)
Charted: 5

Songfacts®:

  • Bobby Freeman was 17 when he wrote and recorded "Do You Want To Dance," a high energy pop hit with a common topic early in the rock era: asking a girl to dance.

    Freeman had been performing with three other teenagers at dances and other functions when a San Francisco DJ brought him in to record the song. Released on the Josie label, it was a big hit in the summer of 1958.
  • Freeman struggled to follow up this song with another hit. His next single, "Betty Lou Got A New Pair Of Shoes," stalled at #37. He got no higher until 1964, when "C'mon And Swim," inspired by the dance he popularized, went to #5. That one was produced and co-written by Sly Stone, marking the first hit he worked on. Freeman never again cracked the Top 40, but he performed for years to come, with "Do You Want To Dance" his showstopper.
  • The album was called Do You Wanna Dance and the song listed with that spelling. The single was released as "Do You Want To Dance."
  • This song was recorded by a wide array of artists in a litany of styles, making it known to just about anyone who listens to popular music. These are the charting versions of the song:

    Del Shannon (#43, 1964)
    The Beach Boys (#12, 1965)
    The Mamas & the Papas (#76, 1968)
    Love Society (#108, 1968)
    Bette Midler (#17, 1973)
    Ramones (#86, 1978)

    The Beach Boys version is one of their few songs with drummer Dennis Wilson on lead vocals. Mike Love would become a dancer during live performances.

    The Mamas & the Papas did a mellow, lush arrangement, as did Love Society. Midler also slowed it down, but her rendition was more sultry, with the line "Tell me I'm your lover man" changed to "Tell me your my lover man." The Ramones, as always, did it fast and furious. Their version was used in their movie Rock 'N' Roll High School.

    A notable cover that didn't chart: John Lennon, who included it on his 1975 album Rock 'n' Roll.

    Despite all these successful covers, no version of the song ever charted in the UK.
  • Freeman's original was used in the 1973 movie American Graffiti, which was set in 1962. It also appeared in these films:

    You, Me and Him (2017 - Ramones version)
    Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
    One True Thing (1998 - Bette Midler version)
    Bio-Dome (1996 - performed by Wax)
    He Said, She Said (1991)
    Look Who's Talking Too (1990)
    Porky's Revenge (1985 - performed by Dave Edmunds)

Comments: 1

  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaIn my opinion, the Mamas & Papas' version of this song is easily the best one. Love the description of the mellow, lush arrangement, and their version is done in such a way as to sound like a romantic ballad for slow-dancing instead of Bobby Freeman's, which (no offense, Bobby) sounded like he had to get this dance over with and get the car back home before his dad missed it. Whatever else can be said about John Phillips (and there is plenty, and I don't disagree with any of it), he was an unbelievably gifted musician and arranger, whether it was with his own songs or the many covers the group did.
    I got to see two different iterations of the regrouped Mamas & Papas in concert (neither of which was the original, sadly), and hearing Denny Doherty sing this song was the ultimate groupie experience for me.
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