I Put a Spell on You  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"I Put a Spell on You" is a 1956 song written by 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 No. 313 on 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 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. In the UK, Bryan Ferry's version reached No. 18 in 1993 and the version by Sonique reached No. 36 in 1998 and No. 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 the 53rd Grammy Awards. The song was featured in Jim Jarmusch's film Stranger Than Paradise.

The original composition

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."

Hawkins first recorded "I Put a Spell on You" during his stint with Grand Records in late 1955. However, that first 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 his song for Okeh Records and the new version became a quick success. It was banned by some stores and radio stations, and did not appear on the record charts despite the fact it was clearly a good seller. The new version 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 (whose band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown recorded "I Put a Spell on You" in 1968), Black Sabbath, Ted Nugent, George Clinton, The Butthole Surfers, The Cramps, and Marilyn Manson.

Covers and samples

Other artists to record the song include:

Most of the covers treat the song seriously; few attempt to duplicate Hawkins's bravura performance.

In 1967, the arrangement was used for Frank Sinatra's "The World We Knew (Over and Over)".

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"), and Legion of Dynamic Diskord ("Rebel Rebel"). Producers Cookin' Soul incorporated more elements of the original song plus a tempo change for a remix 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 Screams at Disneyland and Disney's Nightmare in the Sky at Hong Kong Disneyland.

During the first episode of the 2014 American music competition Rising Star, contestant Jesse Kinch performed this song. He later went on to win the competition.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "I Put a Spell on You" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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