It's All Right

Album: The Impressions (1963)
Charted: 4
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Songfacts®:

  • An early Impressions song, "It's All Right" was written by group leader Curtis Mayfield and was a big hit for the group, giving them their first of six #1 hits on the R&B chart and their highest-ever entry on the Hot 100 at #4. It's an uplifting song where Mayfield compels us to leave our troubles behind and have a good time. We can achieve this through music: just clap your hands and listen to the beat - he knows you've got soul.
  • With an arrangement by the Chicago jazz man Johnny Pate and the gospel-tinged voice of Curtis Mayfield, this song made a big impression in the world of R&B and set the table for the group's later success.

    The group had switched labels, moving from Vee-Jay to ABC Paramount, which made "It's All Right" the title track of their first album with the company. (They released one album with Vee-Jay, billed as "The Impressions with Jerry Butler"). Over the next few years, the group landed a number of hits, including "I'm So Proud," "Choice Of Colors" and "Woman's Got Soul." Many of these songs explored social issues of the day, particularly "People Get Ready."
  • A conversation between lead singer Curtis Mayfield, baritone Sam Gooden, and tenor Fred Cash in between performances in Nashville served as inspiration for the song. The trio had recently teamed up with producer Johnny Pate and were excitedly talking about future possibilities for The Impressions when Fred Cash exclaimed that "it's all right!" Mayfield picked up on the phrase and wrote this tune.
  • Huey Lewis & the News recorded this song for the 1993 album People Get Ready: A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield, a benefit to support Mayfield, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1990 stage accident (he died in 1999).

    In 1994, Steve Winwood covered the song for a different Mayfield tribute album, this one called A Tribute To Curtis Mayfield.

    The Huey Lewis & The News version is a cappella, which is how they performed it live - very impressive for a band that isn't a vocal group.

    Their version sometimes shows up as "It's Alright," and they made it really confusing when they covered a different song called "But It's Alright" - also a '60s soul song, this one originally recorded by J.J. Jackson - in 1994.

    Other artists to cover the song include Tommy James And The Shondells and Etta James. Bruce Springsteen performed it on the final eight shows of his 1992-1993 World Tour, typically as the closing number.
  • The Huey Lewis & The News cover wasn't released as a single but earned enough airplay to chart at #37 on Billboard's Airplay chart. It was the second song written by Curtis Mayfield to chart following his accident; En Vogue took his song "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" to #6 on the Hot 100 in 1992.

    The Huey Lewis version came at a time when a cappella had returned to the pop charts, thanks to Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" and Shai's "If I Ever Fall In Love."
  • Fred Cash told Mojo magazine how Mayfield habitually based songs on different things he heard people say. "Didn't matter how inconsequential the conversation, he always had ideas from it and that never stop," Cash explained. "We'd be on the road, in a hotel, it would be 2 to 3 in the morning, he'll knock on the door, get me over to his room to hear this song. He'd be on the bed in his robe and start strumming the guitar.

    That's when I heard 'It's Alright,' 'Keep On Pushing,' 'People Get Ready.' 'It's Alright,' that came from a saying of mine. I used to say that all the time, you know, 'Curtis, it's alright.'"
  • Two versions of this song are used in the 2020 movie Soul; one by Jon Batiste and another duet version between Batiste and Celeste. It also appears in these movies:

    Losin' It (1983)
    The Flamingo Kid (1984)
    Angels in the Outfield (1994)
    Phenomenon (1996)
    Simon Birch (1998)
    The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

    The song also plays in the 1990 TV miniseries Stephen King's It.

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