"Why Don't You Do Right?" (originally recorded as "Weed Smoker's Dream") is an American blues- and jazz-influenced pop song written by Joseph "Kansas Joe" McCoy in 1936. A twelve-bar minor key blues with a few chord substitutions, it is considered a classic "woman's blues" song and has become a standard.
In 1936, the Harlem Hamfats recorded "The Weed Smoker's Dream". Band member McCoy later rewrote the song, refining the composition and lyrics. The new tune, titled "Why Don't You Do Right?", was recorded by Lil Green in 1941, with guitar by William "Big Bill" Broonzy. The recording was an early jazz and blues hit.
The song has its roots in blues music and originally dealt with a marijuana smoker reminiscing about lost financial opportunities. As it was rewritten, it takes on the perspective of the female partner, who chastises her man for his irresponsible ways:
Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money too.
Many musicians have recorded "Why Don't You Do Right?". These include renditions by Kay Kyser (vocals by Julie Conway), Ella Fitzgerald (Jazz at the Philharmonic, the Ella Fitzgerald Set) and Joe Pass, Julie London, Cal Tjader and Mary Stallings, Mark Murphy, Shirley Horn, Johnny Otis, Mel Torme, Rasputina, Imelda May, Kiri Te Kanawa, Ashlee Simpson, Sinéad O'Connor, Eden Brent on her album Mississippi Number One (2008), White Ghost Shivers on their album Everyone's Got 'Em (2006), and the Carolina Chocolate Drops on their album Genuine Negro Jig (2010). In 1960, the American jazz singer Della Reese recorded an uptempo version of the song for her album Della Della Cha-Cha-Cha. The song was then recorded in Italy in the early 1960s by Helen Merrill, while she was living there, for the album Parole e Musica: Words and Music.
The song was performed in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit by the animated character Jessica Rabbit. Although Kathleen Turner (who was uncredited for her role) provided the talking voice for the character, the vocal performance of the song is by actress Amy Irving, then the wife of executive producer Steven Spielberg. Hugh Laurie included the song, under the original title and with original lyrics (vocals by Gaby Moreno), on his second album in 2013. Gramophonedzie sampled and remixed Peggy Lee's 1947 version from The Best of Peggy Lee: The Capitol Years for his 2010 single "Why Don't You?" It reached number one in the UK Dance Chart.
Peggy Lee's 1947 Capitol recording is used throughout the game Mafia II.
The video game Fallout: New Vegas uses a 1950 Peggy Lee recording taken from the audio track of a Snader Telescription. Online compilations incorrectly cite the Columbia Benny Goodman or the Capitol Dave Barbour sessions.
The American singer, Lana Del Rey, covered the song during her Endless Summer Tour.
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