Land of 1000 Dances

Album: Land of 1000 Dances (1962)
Charted: 77
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • The lyrics are mostly a list of dances that were popular at the time. The title does not appear in the lyrics. Kenner was inspired by an old Spiritual song that was sung in the American South named "Children Go Where I Send Thee." It is a song where the narrator enumerates all the places where he can "send thee:" "Children go where I send thee, how shall I send thee," except of course, Chris names all the different dances people were doing at the time.
  • Fats Domino got a composer credit even though he had nothing to do with writing it. Kenner offered him the credit and half the royalties if he would record it. He did, but Domino's version flopped and Kenner's version ended up being a bigger hit. Domino had previously charted with Kenner's song "Sick and Tired," and Kenner had a big hit in 1961 with his song "I Like It Like That," which went to #2 in the US.
  • In 1964, two years after Kenner and Domino recorded the song, it was covered by the Mexican-American Los Angeles rock band Cannibal And The Headhunters, who took it to #30 in the US. This was the first version of the song to include the primal "na na na na na na" chant, which the group came up with when the lead singer forgot the lyrics.

    The song quickly became very popular among bar bands, who would often sing the "na na"s instead of actual words. The original version has lyrics all the way through, but that's not how most people know the song.
  • Kenner was a New Orleans songwriter and performer who died in 1976. His version of the song was arranged by Allen Toussaint, who also played piano on the track.
  • Kenner's original version contained a spoken intro that explains the title: "I'm gonna take you, baby, I'm gonna take you to a place. The name of the place is the Land of a Thousand Dances." The intro was left off most cover versions.
  • Wilson Pickett's version of this song was the biggest hit, going to #6 US and #22 UK in 1966. It was the first song Pickett recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama; he recorded it at FAME studios using many of the top session players from the area: Jimmy Johnson on guitar, Spooner Oldham on keyboards, Tommy Cogbill on bass and Roger Hawkins on drums. Pickett later recorded "Mustang Sally" at FAME, and these sessions were so successful that Pickett's label, Atlantic Records, started sending more of their artists to record there, including Aretha Franklin. Muscle Shoals quickly became a very popular recording destination, with Bob Seger, The Staple Singers, Paul Simon, Cat Stevens and many others recording there in the '70s.
  • Ini Kamoze sampled the "na-na-na-na-na" chant from the Cannibal And The Headhunters version in the chorus of his 1994 hit "Here Comes The Hotstepper" in 1994.
  • Dances mentioned in Kenner's version are: The Pony, Mashed Potato, Alligator, Twist, Watusi, The Yo-Yo, Sweet Pea, Fly, Hand Jive, Slop, Chicken, Bop, Fish, Slow Twist, Tango, and the Popeye. Pickett's version mentions The Pony, Mashed Potato, Alligator, Twist, Watusi, and Jerk. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This has been covered by The J. Geils Band, Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Rufus Thomas, and many others. Wilson Pickett recorded a new version of the song in 1988 that was featured in the movie The Great Outdoors. This version was produced by Steve Cropper, famous for his work as a guitarist/producer at Stax Records.
  • Pickett's version was used in the films Soul To Soul (1971), Forrest Gump (1994) and The Full Monty (1997). The cast of the 1988 comedy The Great Outdoors, including Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, dances to this during the movie's end credits.
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Comments: 15

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyBesides Wilson Pickett and Cannibal & the Headhunters, two other covered versions of the song have made the Top 100, Thee* Midniters {#67 in 1965} and the Electric Indian {#95 in 1969}...
    * Not a typo, the group's name was Thee Midniters not The Midniters.
  • Don from Sevierville, TnThis song is mentioned in the category of "songs with titles that are not part of the lyrics", but that's only true of all the cover versions. Chris Kenner's original did mention the title in the intro, but only his version includes that intro.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 27th 1965, Cannibal & the Headhunters performed "Land of 1,000 Dances" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    One week earlier on February 21st it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #100; and on April 18th it peaked at #30 (for 2 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    Chris Kenner's original version reached #77 on the Top 100 in 1963...
    And on September 11th, 1966 Wilson Pickett's covered version peaked at #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    As stated above Chris Kenner's biggest hit was "I Like It Like That, Part One"; it peaked at #2 for 3 weeks on July 31st, 1961 (the three weeks it was at #2 on the Top 100, "Tossin’ and Turnin’" by Bobby Lewis was at #1 for those three weeks)...
    R.I.P. Mr. Kenner (1929 - 1976).
  • Bubblesk from Memphis, TnIn 1962, I don't recall ever hearing Chris Kenner's "Land of 1,000 Dances" on radio even once. But seeing that it only got to #77 on the charts, it's no wonder. I DO recall the versions by Cannibal & The Headhunters and Wilson Pickett. I bought both 45 singles. The single by Cannibal & The Headhunters had very poor recording production quality! Just too fuzzy-sounding. But I loved Pickett's version that became a big Top Ten hit for him. I think it was the "gut bucket soul" music that got to me. Yeah.....twistin' with Lucy!!
  • Astrid from Guaynabo, Puerto RicoThe song was also used in the 1988 film "The Great Outdoors" (with John Candy & Dan Aykoryd) in the final scene with everyone dancing at the bar.
  • Richard Benjamin from Dania Beach, FlAnyone remember a version of this by a group called Thee Midnighters (yes - Thee)? I had a 45 of this around the same time as the Cannibal & The Headhunters version came out.
  • Wayne from Salem, VaWilson Pickett goes full charge on this song! If you want to hear something really funny. Then listen to the version by Nino Tempo and April Stevens.They sing it in such a laid back manner. It is hilarious.
  • Matthew from Milford, MaThe double brackets were an attempt to make an internal link... hey, it works on Wikipedia!
  • Matthew from Milford, MaIs it just me, or is this song commonly confused with "[[Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye]]" by Steam?
  • Brandon from Morristown, TnThis is a popular marching band song.Its played in the stands and is very simply for trumpet players.
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnIn 1985 this song was also covered by a group of pro wrestlers and other personalities from what was then still known as the World Wrestling Federation, as part of the WWF's "Wrestling Album". Yes, it sounds as bad as it, well, sounds.
  • Bruce from Nashville, VaI remember being told that Ewell Rouselle, a former Nashville music exec (who lived on his boat on Old Hickory Lake) was also a co-writer of this song. I saw it on an old "45" that listed the writers below the name of the song. Anyone know the whereabouts of Ewell these days?
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiai'm a bit upset i only counted 845 dances...ripped off
  • Matthew from Tampa, FlPatti Smith did a cover of this on Horses that was just called Land.
  • Eddie from Lachine, MiJimi Hendrix wanted to record this or "Twist and Shout" by the Isley Bros. as the B-side to "Hey Joe" but Chas Chandler, his manager, insisted that he write something original. He wrote "Stone Free" instead.
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