With A New Cover Of “I Put A Spell On You”, DHP Embraces A Legacy That Shaped Rock & Roll

And I don’t care

If you don’t want me

I’m yours right now

You hear me

I put a spell on you

Because you’re mine

— Screamin’ Jay Hawkins — 

Certain stores banned the original version of I Put a Spell You, but its magic was too powerful to be kept down.  Now one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll, I Put a Spell on You by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins transcends time and place, and has achieved iconic status in American popular culture.  This widely recorded and much interpreted song permeates the musical atmosphere that we breathe and live.

Like many bands, the Dance Hall Pimps played a few covers while we built our original repertoire, but I Put A Spell On You was the only cover we included on our 2010 EP Demo of the Classic Song. Now our new studio version of Spell On You is up and running on the website music player.  Here is a link to  the bonus track of  I Put a Spell on You from the forthcoming LP on Lakeshore Records.  You can find the song in the middle of the page, but it will always be at they very top of the list for the band. The song’s magic definitely works for us and certainly worked for the guy who wrote it.

The Original Version on Grand Records

The Original Version on Grand Records

When Hawkins wrote the song in 1956, he thought it was going to be a slow blues ballad, a proper love song for the ladies. Something strange, however, happened when he went into the studio to record the tune. Hawkins describes how 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.”

In fact, the song was so weird to the Eisenhower-influenced country that certain stores and radio stations banned it. Hawkins even went back into the studio and recorded a softer version, minus certain sounds deemed “cannibalistic,” that ultimately brought him together with the legendary Alan Freed and his “Rock and Roll Review.” 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. Hawkins even recorded the spookier version that tells how he places a curse on his former girlfriend so he can win her back. The rest is history, as the song became an underground word-of-mouth hit. Not at the top of the charts, but never forgotten and rising in cult status and popularity as the years passed.

Over the decades, I Put a Spell on You has been interpreted by a wide spectrum of artists. One of our favorites is Joe Cocker’s, who begins his version with the bridge.  When we tackled this song, we saw the song going through three phases:  sadness, anger, and finally, desperation.  So we wanted a big powerful desperately wailing ending, which necessitated putting the Bridge at the end.

Here are the Dance Hall Pimps in an early live performance of I Put a Spell on You (Bar Sinister, Hollywood, Jan. 2010). The video is admittedly a bit crappy and RJ’s voice has gotten a lot stronger, but, what the hell, the magic still comes through.

 

Dance Hall Pimps (2010)

 

Now explore the amazing journey of this iconic song

from the original…

 

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1956) (original song)

(classic performance)

Nothing ever compares to the original.

 

To the grand history of covers that climaxes with DHP…

 

Nina Simone (1965)

Simone transformed the song into a stunning, jazzy love song. The opening track for her album I Put a Spell on You, Simone also used the title for her 1992 autobiography.

 

The Haunting Beauty of Nina Simone

The Haunting Beauty of Nina Simone

The Animals (1966)

Manfred Mann (1966)

Manfred Mann recorded a smooth rendition of the song for the Pretty Flamingo album.

 

Them (1966)

This Northern Irish band with a young Van Morrison included a version on their second album Them Again.

 

Caterina Caselli (1967)

Yes, an Italian version known as “Puoi farmi piangere”.

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)

One of the most popular versions, CCR’s cover was the second single from their self-titled debut album. The trio also performed it during their set at Woodstock.

 

CCR's Classic Cover Rocked Woodstock

CCR's Classic Cover Rocked Woodstock

C.A. Quintet (1969)

Naturally, the sixties provided a trippy version of the iconic song.

 

Audience (1971)

And this British band brought out an art house version.

 

Thin Lizzy (1972)

A rare, and extended, live performance from August 8, 1972 in Frankfurt, Germany.

 

Tim Curry (1981)

Tim Curry from Rocky Horror Picture Show covered the song for his album, Simplicity.

 

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1984)

A live take during the band’s first tour on November 24, 1984 in Spain.

 

Pete Townsend and David Gilmour (1985)

Pete Townsend and David Gilmour performed the song in Great Britain with their band Deep End on the album Deep End Live!

 

Soul Asylum (1990)

This is a performance by Soul Asylum on October 29,1990 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Another live version can be found on the 2007 compilation Welcome to the Minority: The A&M Years 1988 – 1991.

 

Jimmy Barnes (1991)

Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes recorded this version live in Sydney.

 

Bette Midler (1993)

Miss Divine sang the track in Hocus Pocus. The cover is more memorable than the film.

 

Miss Divine's Cover Is Campy But Classic

Miss Divine's Cover Is Campy But Classic

 

Diamanda Galas (1993)

A bit of an obscure live version that was recorded on October 12, 1993.

 

Bryan Ferry (1993)

The Roxy Music front man covered the song for his solo album Taxi.

Bryan Ferry's Passionate Spell

Bryan Ferry's Passionate Spell

 

Marilyn Manson (1995)

Featured on the EP Smells Like Children, this spooky cover was included on the soundtrack for David Lynch’s Lost Highway.

 

Sonique (1998)

Following in the tradition of bizarre British covers, the British singer’s dance rendition first appeared in 1998 and was re-issued in 2001.

Sonique's Stange & Original Cover

Sonique's Stange & Original Cover

 

Arthur Brown (1999)

Although English rocker Arthur Brown first covered “I Put a Spell on You” on his 1968 album The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, this acoustic rendition from 1999 is special.

 

Natacha Atlas (2001)

This Egyptian songstress released her version on the 2001 album Ayeshteni.

 

Dave Gilmour, Mica Paris and Jools Holland (2004)

Performed live at the Royal Albert Hall in April of 2004 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

 

Queen Latifah (2004)

On The Dana Owens Album, the Queen took on the classic song.

The Queen Weaves Her Own Magical Spell

The Queen Weaves Her Own Magical Spell

Buddy Guy (2005)

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Playing with Carlos Santana, the Blues legend recorded this version for his album Bring ‘Em In.

 

Joe Cocker (2005)

The legendary singer on his album Heart & Soul, backed by Eric Clapton.

 

Tab Benoit (2006)

 

Kim Nalley (2006)

 

Phil Lesh & Friends (2007)

Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh covered the tune in New York City on Halloween.

 

Dionyos (2008)

Naturally, the French felt the need to add an electric spin to the song.

 

Helenka (2008)

 

Iggy Pop (2009)

The legendary Iggy Pop recorded this version on May 28, 2009 in Paris, France.

 

She & Him (2009)

Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward released a stripped down version in 2009.

 

Jeff Beck with Joss Stone (2010)

Nominated for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 53rd Grammy Awards, it did not win but showed the enduring power of the song.

 

Generations Meet And Celebrate A Classic

Generations Meet And Celebrate A Classic

The Cameos (2010)

Performed live during Ruts Fest 2010.

 

Shane MacGowan & Friends (2010)

Shane MacGowan of the Pogues teamed with Nick Cave, Bobby Gillespie, Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones and Johnny Depp to release this charity single following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

 

The Kills (2011)

A gem of a version if you can find it.

 

Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist (2011)

The Hives front man performs the song live in Europe.

 

Casey Abrams (2011)


Abrams performed the song on American Idol and was then eliminated.

 

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