I Put a Spell on You
"I Put a Spell on You" is a 1956 song written and composed by Jalacy "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins, whose own recording of it was selected as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was also included in Robert Christgau's "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings—published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981)—and ranked No. 313 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The selection became a classic cult song covered by a variety of artists and was his greatest commercial success, reportedly surpassing a million copies in sales, even though it failed to make the Billboard pop or R&B charts.
|"I Put a Spell on You"|
A-side label of the 1956 U.S. 7-inch vinyl single
|Single by Screamin' Jay Hawkins|
|from the album At Home with Screamin' Jay Hawkins|
|Recorded||12 September 1956|
|Screamin' Jay Hawkins singles chronology|
The original compositionEdit
Hawkins had originally intended to record "I Put a Spell on You" as "a refined love song, a blues ballad". However, the producer (Arnold Maxin) "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."
Hawkins first recorded "I Put a Spell on You" as a ballad during his stint with Grand Records in late 1955. However, that version was not released at the time (it has since been reissued on Hawkins' UK Rev-Ola CD The Whamee 1953–55). The following year, Hawkins re-recorded the song for Columbia's Okeh Records – the notorious screaming version, which was released in October 1956. However, this version was banned from most radio programming for its outrageous 'cannibalistic' style. A truncated version was later released omitting the grunts and moans from the ending of the song, but the ban generally remained. Despite the restriction, the record still sold over a million copies.
The hit brought Hawkins together with Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed who promptly added him to his "Rock and Roll Revue". 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, a cigarette-smoking skull named "Henry" and, ultimately, Hawkins transforming himself into "the black Vincent Price". This theatrical act was one of the first shock rock performances.
The original version recurs in the film Stranger than Paradise.
Covers and samplesEdit
"I Put a Spell on You" has been covered by other artists extensively; there are several hundred versions available on online stores like iTunes. Most of the covers treat the song seriously; few attempt to duplicate Hawkins' bravura performance. Although Hawkins' own version never charted, several later cover versions have.
- Nina Simone's version from her album of the same name reached No. 120 Pop and No. 23 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart in 1965; it also reached No. 49 on the UK singles chart that year, and No. 28 when it was reissued in 1969.
- The version by The Alan Price Set reached No. 9 in the UK in 1966 and No. 80 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival's version reached No. 58 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 1968. The band later performed it at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
- A disco version by Dutch singer Dee Dee (Anna Dekkers) reached No. 16 on the Dutch charts in 1978 and was also released in Belgium (where it peaked on No. 12), France, Germany, Spain, and Australia.
- In the UK, Bryan Ferry's version reached No. 18 in 1993.
- The version by Sonique reached No. 36 in 1998 and No. 8 on reissue in 2000.
Other versions of note:
- American band Marilyn Manson covered the song on their 1995 EP Smells Like Children.
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown on their 1968 self-titled album, reaching No. 111 in the US.
- The 2010 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 the 53rd Grammy Awards.
- Bette Midler in the film Hocus Pocus, in an elaborate song and dance sequence. Midler performed the song again during her 2015 Divine Intervention Tour, wearing a costume similar to the one she wore in Hocus Pocus.
- Them, featuring Van Morrison, on the 1966 album Them Again, where it peaked at No. 138 on the US Billboard charts.
- Angelina Jordan performs the song in a music video directed by Norwegian photographer Per Heimly. The black & white video, made to look as though you are watching an old film, includes film projector sound effects. It has been viewed more than 7.5 million times on YouTube and other video-sharing sites as of September, 2020. A tribute to the songwriter, Hawkins, appears briefly at the beginning of the video, when his picture appears on a candle. The video was uploaded to YouTube on September 27, 2016, when Angelina was 10 years old.
- Annie Lennox performed a cover of the song for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack
- A cover of the Annie Lennox version, performed by Brigitte Wickens, was used in an episode of the television series Big Mouth (S2E3 "The Shame Wizard").
- Chaka Khan recorded a cover version in 2019. That version would later be featured in a Toyota Corolla commercial.
- The Jaded Hearts Club covered the song on their debut album "You've Always Been Here".
- "Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You The Singles 1954 - 1957". Discogs.
- Bush, John. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
- Pareles, John (February 14, 2000). "Screamin' Jay Hawkins, 70, Rock's Wild Man". The New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
- Mike McPadden (1 May 2012). If You Like Metallica ... : Here Are Over 200 Bands, CDs, Movies, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Backbeat Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-4768-1357-8. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "A Basic Record Library: The Fifties and Sixties". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251. Retrieved March 16, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- Edward M. Komara (2006). Encyclopedia of the Blues: A-J. Routledge. p. 415. ISBN 9780415926997. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- Ed Sikov (1996). Laughing Hysterically: American Screen Comedy of the 1950s. Columbia University Press. p. 17. ISBN 9780231079839. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- 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.
- Julia Rubiner, Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music, Volume 8, Gale, 1992, p.117
- Dimery, Robert, ed. (2013). 1001 songs you must hear before you die (Rev. and updated ed.). London. p. 81. ISBN 9781844037360. OCLC 855705641.
- Colin Larkin (2011), The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Omnibus Press, p. 2680, ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8
- Chris Morris (Feb 26, 2000), "Legendary Screamin' Jay Hawkins Dies At 70", Billboard
- Burnside, John (2015-05-07). I Put a Spell on You. ISBN 9780099554943.
- Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Boston: Allyn, 2000. Print.
- Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004
- Brown, Tony, Jon Kutner & Neil Warwick, The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums, Omnibus Press, London, 2002 p. 911
- Brown, Tony, Jon Kutner & Neil Warwick, The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums, Omnibus Press, London, 2002 p. 795
- "Creedence Clearwater Revival Setlist at Woodstock". setlist.fm.
- Brown, Tony, Jon Kutner & Neil Warwick, The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums, Omnibus Press, London, 2002 p. 371
- Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952–2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- "Smells Like Children - Marilyn Manson". All music. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
- Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004
- "Nominees And Winners – GRAMMY.com". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
- "Angelina Jordan - I Put A Spell On You". YouTube. September 27, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
- "I Put a Spell on You - Single by Chaka Khan". Apple Music. Retrieved 2020-09-21.