Tell Me Something Good

Album: Rags To Rufus (1974)
Charted: 3
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Songfacts®:

  • 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 because he gave the song 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 one he had written, 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.
  • Scottish DJ/Producer Ewan McVicar recorded a dance version in 2020. His interpretation samples Chaka Khan's vocals with McVicar's added cool synths and rapturous bass kicks.

    Patrick Topping introduced the song in his Beatport DJ set in August 2020. Released on Trick Records and licensed to Ministry of Sound, it reached the UK Singles Chart in September 2021.

Comments: 13

  • Layla from Houston, TxI'm in love with this song. If this song was a person, I'd immediately marry it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1974 {July 20th} Rufus featuring Chaka Khan performed "Tell Me Something Good" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #15 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, five weeks later it would peak at #3 {for 1 week} and it spent nineteen weeks on the chart...
    And on August 18th, 1974 it also peaked at #3 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart and stayed on that chart for seventeen weeks......
    Between 1973 and 1984 the Chicago funk band had twenty five records on the Hot Soul Singles chart, twelve made the Top 10 with five reaching #1, "You Got The Love" for 1 week in 1974, "Sweet Thing" for 2 weeks in 1976, "At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)" for 2 weeks in 1977, "Do You Love What You Feel" for 3 weeks in 1979, and "Ain't Nobody" for 1 week in 1983...
    In addition to their five #1 records, they had three records peak at #3 on the Hot Soul Singles chart...
    Ms. Khan, born Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi Khan, celebrated her 66th birthday four months ago on March 23rd, 2019...
  • Wendy from TennesseeThis song blows away any troubles on your mind as soon as you hear the opening guitar riff! No facts, just an opinion!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 9th 1974, "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #79; and on August 18th it peaked at #3 (for 3 weeks) and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Was track 3 of side 2 on the group's second studio album, 'Rags To Rufus', and the album reached #4 on both Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and Billboard's Top R&B Albums chart...
    One other track from the album made the Top 100, "We Got The Love", it reached #11 but on December 8th, 1974 it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's R&B Singles chart.
  • Beth from N/a, VaThis is one of my favorite songs. It always puts me in a good mood when I am down.
  • Art from London, United KingdomDid 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.
  • Paul from Detroit, MiOne of my favorites from '74. It takes me back to a fantastic summer.
  • Bob from Hallanedale, FlChaka Khan is sooooo great--she has one of the best voices of all time.
  • Scott from Palm Desert, CaRufus 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)"
  • Nadine from Riverside, CaI'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..
  • Robb from Williamstown, Nj 08094, NjDime algo beuno is tell me something good in spanish
  • Brian from La Mesa, CaDuring the verse, the vocals and bass fall on the up beat while on the chorus the vocals and bass are on the downbeat.
  • Scott from Chicago, Ilone 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...
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