“I Put a Spell on You” is a 1956 song written by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, whose recording was selected as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was also ranked #320 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Although Hawkins’ version did not make any charts, several later cover versions have done so. Nina Simone‘s version reached # 23 in the USBillboard R&B chart in 1965; it also reached # 49 in the UK singles chart that year, and # 28 when it was reissued in 1969. The version byThe Alan Price Set reached # 9 in the UK in 1966, and # 80 on the Billboard Hot 100. Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s version reached # 58 on the US Hot 100 in 1968. In the UK, Bryan Ferry‘s version reached # 18 in 1993, and the version by Sonique reached # 36 in 1998 and # 5 on reissue in 2000. The song has been recorded by numerous other artists. The song version by Jeff Beck featuring Joss Stone, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at 53rd Grammy Awards.
The original version
Hawkins had originally intended to record “I Put a Spell on You” as a refined love song, a blues ballad. He reported, however, that the producer “brought in ribs and chicken and got everybody drunk, and we came out with this weird version. I don’t even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death.”
Some sources claim that “I Put a Spell on You” had been released earlier than 1956 in a more sedate form, but this has not been verified. The date of 1949 for an original release on the Grand label would appear unlikely, since it predates both the formation of the record label and the beginning of Hawkins’ performing career.
“I Put a Spell on You” became a quick success, despite being banned by some stores and radio stations. A softer version, minus certain sounds deemed “cannibalistic“, did not chart but brought Hawkins together with Alan Freed and his “Rock and Roll Review”.
Up to this time, Hawkins had been a blues performer; emotional, but not wild. Freed suggested a gimmick to capitalize on the “demented” sound of “I Put a Spell on You”: Hawkins wore a long cape, and appeared onstage by rising out of a coffin in the midst of smoke and fog.
The act was a sensation, later bolstered by tusks worn in Hawkins’ nose, on-stage snakes and fireworks, and a cigarette-smoking skull named “Henry”. The theatrical act was one of the first shock rock performances, and a basis for much that came later in rock and roll, including Dr. John, Alice Cooper, Eric Burdon, Screaming Lord Sutch, Warren Zevon, Arthur Brown,Black Sabbath, Ted Nugent, George Clinton, The Butthole Surfers, The Cramps, and Marilyn Manson.
Shane MacGowan and Friends cover
|“I Put a Spell on You”|
|Single by Shane MacGowan and Friends|
|from the album Helping Haiti|
|Released||8 March 2010|
|Genre||Rock and roll|
|Writer(s)||Screamin’ Jay Hawkins|
Shane MacGowan, Nick Cave, Bobby Gillespie, Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones and a guitar-wielding Johnny Depp joined forces to release their take on “I Put A Spell On You” in aid of Concern Worldwide‘s work in Haiti. Moved by the plight of the people of Haiti following the devastating2010 earthquake, McGowan and his long term girlfriend Victoria Clarke quickly assembled a group of friends and set about recording a version of the song. “I Put A Spell On You” was released on March 8, 2010, via download only. Shane MacGowan and friends contained a line-up that included the following:
List of musicians who recorded on MacGowan’s recording
- Shane MacGowan
- Nick Cave
- Bobby Gillespie
- Glen Matlock
- Chrissie Hynde
- Paloma Faith
- Eliza Doolittle
- Laura White
- Hammond organ/piano:
- Rob Walbourne
- Fire Hydrant:
Covers and samples
|“I Put a Spell on You”|
|Single by Creedence Clearwater Revival|
|from the album Creedence Clearwater Revival|
|Genre||Roots rock, acid rock, blues rock|
|Writer(s)||Screamin’ Jay Hawkins|
|Creedence Clearwater Revival singles chronology|
|“I Put a Spell on You”|
|Single by Sonique|
|from the album Hear My Cry|
|Released||25 April 2001 (US)|
|Sonique singles chronology|
“I Put a Spell on You” has been covered very many times, perhaps most famously by Nina Simone in 1965, Alan Price in 1966, and Bette Midler in the 1993 movie Hocus Pocus. Other artists to record the song include:
- Casey Abrams
- Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist
- The Animals
- Natacha Atlas
- Audience (band)
- Jimmy Barnes
- Jeff Beck and Joss Stone
- Tab Benoit
- The Birthday Party
- Arthur Brown
- Eric Burdon performed it live at his show in Lugano in 2006.
- C.A. Quintet
- Caterina Caselli Italian singer (cover “Puoi farmi piangere”, 1966)
- Champion with guest vocalist Betty Bonifassi
- Ray Charles
- Joe Cocker
- Creedence Clearwater Revival (who also performed it at Woodstock)
- Tim Curry
- Julien Doré
- Bryan Ferry
- Jools Holland with Mica Paris and David Gilmour
- Diamanda Galás
- The Guards (1968)
- Buddy Guy (featuring Carlos Santana)
- The Heavy
- The Kills
- Logan Kendell (feat. Jessie Crystal)
- Queen Latifah
- Phil Lesh & Friends (live cover in 2007)
- Manfred Mann
- Marilyn Manson
- Katie Melua
- Bette Midler (from the film Hocus Pocus)
- Kim Nalley
- Iggy Pop / Catherine Ringer
- Alan Price
- Gabriel Ríos
- Roxy Music
- She and Him
- Nina Simone
- Them (featuring Van Morrison)
- Pete Townshend on his Deep End Live! album (with David Gilmour).
- Bonnie Tyler
Most of the covers treat the song seriously; few attempt to duplicate Hawkins’s bravura performance. Arthur Brown comes close.
Also, it has been sampled on tracks by The Notorious B.I.G. (“Kick In The Door”), The Beatnuts (“Se Acabo”), LL Cool J and The Heavy (“Sixteen”). Producers Cookin’ Soul reworked the sample used by The Notorious B.I.G, incorporating more elements of the original song and changing the tempo, and released a song featuring Styles P of The LOX.
The song has been used as the exit music for the annual Halloween fireworks show HalloWishes at Walt Disney World in Florida. It can also be heard at the end of Halloween Screamsat Disneyland and Disney’s Nightmare in the Sky at Hong Kong Disneyland.
The title of the song was borrowed to name one of the quests in the role-playing game Fallout New Vegas, as one of the numerous references and allusions to the music of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s in that game.
The song also functions as an important motif in the classic 1984 independent film by Jim Jarmusch Stranger than Paradise.
I PUT A SPELL ON YOU / HAITI CHARITY SINGLE
- TEXT BY JOHN-PAUL PRYOR for Dazed Digital
“There are a lot of unsung movers and shakers behind the scenes of rock’n’roll, and when rock’s glitterati need someone they can rely on to make things happen, the name Gerry O’Boyle tends to come top of the list. There are few better connected than the Irish legend behind the infamous haunts Filthy McNasty’s and The Boogaloo, so when Shane MacGowan decided he wanted to record a charity single to raise money for the people of Haiti, the first call he made was to his old friend O’Boyle. They set up camp in the bar, got on the phone and within a matter of days they had Nick Cave, Johnny Depp, Mick Jones and Bobby Gillespie on board, to name just a few. Now it looks as though what has to be the most bitchin’ charity single ever made might be a real contender for next week’s number one. Dazed Digital had a quick bleary-eyed after hours chat with O’Boyle on Saturday night about how it all started…”
Dazed Digital: How did this whole thing come together?
Gerry O Boyle: The project was Shane and his longtime girlfriend Victoria Clarke’s idea. They rang me on a Friday night asking me to help put it together, and one week to the day, we were in a studio in Battersea recording it… It was literally that quick; a truly mental week. Shane, Victoria and I just called everyone up and asked them to jump onboard. Nick, Bobby and Johnny were the first to jump in, and then we made a few more calls and put the bill together. We wanted to make money for Concern – a very old established Irish charity that has actually been in Haiti for 15 years. Victoria rang them up and naturally, they said yes. Everything about the project was blessed. We did it on no budget, and just put together a headquarters in the back of The Boogaloo.
DD: This is a snarling rock’n’roll monster with teeth sharper than Shane’s new gnashers, why this song in particular?
GB: It’s a very different take on the charity single; this is very ballsy. Shane loves Haiti and he loves Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, so he just thought it felt right. In his opinion, it’s a hymn of love and a primal prayer to the fallen people. He feels the lyrics to “I Put A Spell On You'” are those of enchantment, love and primal prayer.
DD: How did Johnny Depp become involved?
GB: Johnny is an old friend of Shane’s. He has appeared on one of Shane’s albums before and is in the video for “That Woman’s Got Me Drinking”. Everyone was in the studio on the day except Johnny who was working in LA, and he had to send his parts on to us. It was a pretty magical day, and it was a full moon with an eclipse. Shane was up early, and the first in the studio, which is really unheard of… Then, one by one, they all rolled up, some of the legends who have created the soundtrack for the last two generations: The Pogues, Pistols, Clash, Nick, Pretenders, Primal Scream, and, of course, the two young chanteuses Paloma Faith and Eliza Doolittle.
DD: And who plays that awesome sax solo?
GB: The sax player is Terry Edwards. He used to be in Gallon Drunk. We needed a sax and Glen Matlock just called him. He turned up, did his take and was gone within an hour, a true gent.
DD: It sounds like the whole thing was done really fast!
GB: Once we got the bill togther, we had to get a studio, then a producer, a date, a label to put it out, do clearances, you name it… it was manic. In the afternoon on the day before, while everyone was doing a rehearsal in The Boogaloo, I got a call from our initial label saying they couldn’t do it! With two hours notice we had to get a new label and thankfully, we did… David Jaymes and Tom Haxell at IRL jumped in to bail us out. It was very rough and tumble, and the back office of The Boogaloo never saw more manic discussions… There is a Facebook campaign that started yesterday to make it number one, and we’ve only been on YouTube for three days but then again, we’ve got Johnny Depp!
“I Put A Spell On You” will be available from IRL Records on download only via pre-ordering the single by clicking here. Or text SPELL (all in capitals) to 78789 (the text costs £1.50).
- ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc.. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
- ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- ^ a b Chris Morris (Feb 26, 2000), Legendary Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Dies At 70, Billboard
- ^ http://www.prefixmag.com/media/shane-macgowan-and-friends/i-put-a-spell-on-you-haiti-charity-song-video/37970/
- ^ http://www.mojo4music.com/blog/2010/03/watch_shane_macgowan_friends_i.html
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