I Say a Little Prayer  

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"I Say a Little Prayer" (sometimes spelled longer as "I Say a Little Prayer for You") is a song written by songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick, originally peaking at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in December 1967.


The song was Warwick's second single from her Scepter Records album The Windows Of The World, following the LP's title track. The tune reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #8 on the Billboard R & B Chart in December 1967, and #4 on the Canadian Charts and was a certified US million seller by the RIAA. The single later appeared on the LP Dionne Warwick's Golden Hits, Part Two and is considered one of Warwick's signature songs. The flip or "B-side" of the single (Theme from) Valley of the Dolls was also a million seller and rode the #2 position for 4 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and CashBox singles chart and the # 1 position on the Record World Top 40 Chart in February 1968.

"I Say a Little Prayer" b/w "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls", became one of the most successful double-sided hits of the Rock era. Like several Bacharach compositions, both sides contains passages written in unusual time signatures. The verses of "Prayer" are constructed of 2 successive measures of 4/4, a measure of 10/4 (using 4/4 + 2/4 + 4/4), and 2 final measures of 4/4. The chorus is in 11/4 (using 4/4 + 3/4 + 4/4).

Other recordings

  • Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer" did not appear on the Billboard Easy Listening chart although two instrumental versions of the song were Easy Listening chart items in 1968: the first by Sérgio Mendes at #21 in the spring of 1968 while that fall Julius Wechter and the Baja Marimba Band took "I Say a Little Prayer" to #10 Easy Listening.
  • "I Say a Little Prayer" also returned to the Pop & R&B Top Ten in the fall of 1968 via a recording by Aretha Franklin taken from her 1968 Aretha Now album; Franklin and her backup singers the Sweet Inspirations were singing the song for fun while rehearsing the songs intended for the album and the viability of Franklin actually recording "I Say a Little Prayer" became apparent. Franklin's version was intended as the B-side of the July 1968 single release "The House that Jack Built" but began to accrue its own airplay that August. Even with "The House That Jack Built" ranking as high as #6 (#2 R&B) in September 1968, "I Say a Little Prayer" reached #10 (#3 R&B) that October, the same month the single was certified Gold by the RIAA. Franklin's version of "I Say a Little Prayer" has a special significance in her UK career, as with its September 1968 #4 peak it became Franklin's biggest UK hit; subsequently Franklin has surpassed that track's UK peak only with her #1 collaboration with George Michael: "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". In February 1987 UK music weekly New Musical Express published its critics' top 150 singles of all time, with Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer" ranked at #1, followed by Al Green's "Tired of Being Alone" and Warwick's "Walk On By". (Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer" did not appear in the magazine's in-house critics' top 100 singles poll conducted in November 2002.)
  • In Australia, "I Say a Little Prayer" and "The House That Jack Built" were assigned a joint chart ranking which saw the double-A-side hit reach #10 in November 1968. "I Say a Little Prayer" also gave Franklin a European hit with chartings in France (#12), Germany (#29) and the Netherlands (#4).
  • The 1971 album Anne Murray / Glen Campbell features a medley of "I Say a Little Prayer" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"; the songs are sung in counterpoint to each other, with Murray vocalizing on "I Say a Little Prayer" while Campbell reprises his "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" hit. The track was a minor C&W hit at #40 and reached #81 on the Billboard Hot 100. The concept had previously been used on a 1968 single release by Big Dee Irwin and Mamie Galore and was subsequently reworked when Dionne Warwick herself sang "I Say a Little Prayer" while Isaac Hayes sang "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on their joint live album A Man and a Woman (1977).
  • The song is also a popular soundtrack item: in the 1969 comedy The April Fools, for which Warwick sang the title song,"I Say a Little Prayer" is performed at a swanky house party in a live performance by singer Susan Barrett. "I Say a Little Prayer" is one of several Bacharach/David songs featured prominently in the comedy My Best Friend's Wedding in 1997, which featured both a reggae-style cover by Diana King and a version sung by the film's cast. King's version was released as a single and brought the song back to the Top 40 almost thirty years after Dionne Warwick's original, albeit with a #38 peak; King's single also reached #38 in France.

Other recorded versions

  • A version by Al Green appeared on "Truth n' Time" in 1978 (reissued on The Right Stuff Records label), as well as "The Very Best of Al Green" (Music Club label) in 2001.
  • Karine Costa had a #16 hit in France with her 2002 remake of "I Say a Little Prayer", which also reached the Swiss charts at #82. Costa's version was used in a television advertising campaign for the Crédit mutual.
  • In 2006, The BossHoss had a minor German hit with their version (#79). In 2012, they had recorded this song together with Ivy Quainoo, the first winner of The Voice of Germany.
  • In the jazz world, Rahsaan Roland Kirk covered the song on his 1969 release, "Volunteered Slavery".
  • In the UK, the song was covered in 1988 by UK dance act Bomb the Bass.
  • In Mexico, the song was covered by girl-group Pandora. The version is called "Rezo Una Oracion Por Ti", literally translated.
  • In Mexico, the song was covered by Enrique Guzmán. The version is called "Una pequeña oración", in 1978.
  • In Mexico, the song was covered by Julissa. The version is called "Mi pequeña oración". In 1963.
  • In 1972 Eija Merilä had a single release in Finland with the translated "Iät Ja Ajat"
  • In 1978, Spanish singer Paloma San Basilio performed this song in her live album "Paloma San Basilio en directo".

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "I Say a Little Prayer" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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