365 Days of Album Recommendations – Feb 12

At Home With Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

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That the man we knew as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins left this world on February 12th is essentially certain. That February 12th—many years earlier, of course!—was also the day he recorded his most famous song, “I Put A Spell On You” may be a bit of myth-making at work, tho many reputable sites appear to believe it to be true.

Regardless, the song has placed itself in our folklore, and can’t be escaped.

My two favorite appearances of this song are a) in Jim Jarmusch’s brilliant film “Stranger Than Paradise,” and b) at my wedding, in the form of Nina Simone’s version.

The thing is, for all the cultural cachet and cult status this song has taken on over the years, the real bit of magic is the fact that this album ever got made at all.

Have you actually LISTENED to this whole album? It’s completely insane. That someone—anyone—was making albums like this in 1958, is almost impossible to believe.

“Hong Kong” and “I Love Paris” are pretty much in keeping with the “I Put A Spell On You Vibe,” but the rest of it is just flat-out … weird. Not “I Put A Spell On You” weird, loaded up as it is on self-conscious theatricality. But genuinely weird. Listen to “Deep Purple.” You’ll see what I mean.

The mere existence of this album is truly remarkable.


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