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The CHIRP Blog

Eddie writesTake Two: “I Put a Spell on You” (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Vs. Nina Simone)

by Eddie Sayago

The Original:
Screamin' Jay Hawkins (original artist and recording)
From At Home with Screamin' Jay Hawkins (Okeh, 1956)

One of the most popular songs for the Halloween season is the signature song from Screamin' Jay Hawkins, who literally screamed, grunted, and moaned on what was originally going to be a traditional love pop ballad while in a recording session back in 1956. Most radio stations banned the track due to its "cannibalistic nature" yet it sold over a million copies in the U.S., thanks to his macabre live performances and eccentric lifestyle. (Which should been a limited series at the very least, which can include how he fathered somewhere between 57 to 75 children over the course of his lifetime.)

The Cover:
Nina Simone
From I Put A Spell On You (Phillips, 1965)

When one thinks of Nina Simone, it's often her more politically-charged music and confrontational persona that come to mind, especially since both have resonated with fans of all ages and backgrounds many years after her death in 2003. This cover (and album of the same name), which appeared on the music charts in the U.S. and U.K., is the closest she got to entering the world of 'pop' music (in this case, popular). When this was released in 1965, Simone was gradually becoming a civil rights activist, at the expense of her music career stateside (leaving the U.S. in 1970, Simone spent nearly the rest of her life overseas). The album, also named after the song, ranked #3 on NPR's 150 Greatest Albums Recorded by Women.

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Categorized: Take Two

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