"Mess Around", written by Atlantic Records president and founder Ahmet Ertegün under the pseudonym of A. Nugetre, or "Nuggy" was one of Ray Charles’ first hits. Ertegün claims his inspiration for writing "Mess Around" was Pete Johnson. Earlier versions of the tune, a New Orleans boogie piano riff, can be heard throughout the early 1930s and 1940s the earliest of all being "Cow Cow Blues" from Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport in 1928. Dr John has spoken about the origin of this tune on his "Dr John Teaches New Orleans Piano" series of DVDs.
|Single by Ray Charles|
|Released||June 19, 1953|
|Recorded||May 17, 1953|
|Genre||Rhythm and blues, rock and roll|
|Ray Charles singles chronology|
The lyrics urge listeners to dance ("mess around"), along with a few other key phrases, notably the "girl with the red dress on", harkening back to "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie", the early boogie woogie classic. "Mess Around" became a big R&B charted hit when released as a single in early 1953.
In popular culture
- It was covered by The Animals in 1965.
- The song was featured in the film Planes, Trains and Automobiles, during a scene in which Del Griffith (John Candy) dances to the song while driving a car at night on the freeway. This scene was spoofed in Ted 2 and the Family Guy parody of Return of the Jedi titled "It's a Trap!".
- It was featured in the 2004 biopic Ray.
- Dr. John included it in his collection of New Orleans classics Dr. John's Gumbo.
- Professor Longhair covered the song on several of his albums, including Rock'n'Roll Gumbo (1976).
- Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics