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Freaky Friday: “I Put a Spell on You”

Posted by purplemary54 on September 13, 2013

I’m trying to think of a song more insane than this one.  I am failing.

I don’t even know where to begin with this cult classic of a song, and it is a cult classic.  Screamin’ Jay Hawkins did not have a hit with his song, or, really, any others he recorded, but he did have a successful career performing.  Hawkins was one of the first performers to incorporate props, costumes, and make-up into his shows.  They were integral to what he did on stage.  The song really doesn’t make sense without them.  It’s incoherent ranting, like drunk-dialing your ex at 3 AM.  (Hawkins explained once that he was indeed drunk when he recorded the song.)  The character in “I Put a Spell on You” seems to have a rather tenuous grip on reality.  This is the guy you get a restraining order against because he’s standing on your front lawn in the wee hours, without his pants, screaming that you take him back because he’s changed and he’ll never even look at that slut Sheila again and you better open that goddamn door or he’s gonna drive his F-250 right through it.

It’s a little scary.

I know a lot of people associate this song with Halloween, but I think it’s just as appropriate for Friday the 13th.  Because even though it’s kind of a freaky tune, with the ominous bass and screaming vocal, it’s also a bit of a cartoon.  Hawkins manages to play up every Voodoo-style racist stereotype he can think of in this performance, which kind of softens the effect of the song.  My first actual memories of this song come from a lip syncing show from the 80s called Puttin’ on the Hits.  A guy in pancake make-up and a cape performing to this song was a regular (there’s a clip of it on YouTube, but it’s so badly synced I don’t even want to link to it).  It’s not really as scary as it seems.  Just like Friday the 13th isn’t so scary.  I’ve always found it to be a good day for me.

Of course, I don’t go walking around under ladders and breaking mirrors while a black cat crosses my path.

Can’t be too careful, after all.

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4 Responses to “Freaky Friday: “I Put a Spell on You””

  1. On Friday the 13th, Today I read about veteran Finnair pilot Juha-Pekka Keidasto who will be flying his 666 flight to Helsinki today, then in the parking lot of a hardware store I saw an old red Toyota Starlet parked beside my car with the licence plate number 666 on it.

    Looks like a case for Mulder and Scully…

    Nothing bad happened to me though, although there is one hour and thirty minutes of the 13th to get through at the time of writing.

    I can believe Hawkins was drunk recording it, great song though.

    • I’m actually kind of glad he was drunk. This performance is a little too out there to be clean and sober.

      Maybe you should’ve played 666 in the lottery (if you have a lottery in Ireland).

  2. Sandee said

    Love love love this song, the performance, etc. I accused this one guy of putting a spell on me because I was so infatuated but had no idea why I would be infatuated with someone like this.

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