This song was writ­ten in 1956 by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins as a bal­lad, but he claims the pro­duc­er got him drunk in the stu­dio and that’s when he start­ed Screamin’, and peo­ple loved it, so he nev­er stopped. Since then, it’s been record­ed a whole lot. I’m here to rec­om­mend a mi­ni video festival’s worth of takes, and one record­ing, and this may be a lit­tle weird but I think it’s the best out there, by Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival.

I ac­tu­al­ly think the Jay Hawkins sto­ry is a lit­tle sad. He was a good song­writ­er with a huge, thun­der­ous voice, and af­ter this song he turned his stage act in­to a sort of slap­stick voodoo-shaman sideshow. I have to ad­mit it makes for pret­ty amus­ing video; al­so I gath­er he got paid pret­ty well for it, and it’s hard to be against any­thing that gets a mu­si­cian paid.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Any­how, the way I Put A Spell On You be­came a Song of the Day is I was walk­ing to the train lis­ten­ing to Shuf­fle All Songs and this wicked-sharp ex­cel­lent blues came on, just out­stand­ing singing and feel­ing and gui­tar, and I asked my­self “Who the hell is that?” and it turned out to be Cree­dence. When I sat down to write this I im­me­di­ate­ly dis­cov­ered Screamin’ Jay, and, well, just skip down to the Links sec­tion for some weird and won­der­ful stuff.

I sup­pose few peo­ple un­der six­ty even know that there was once a band called Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival but when I was about twelve the teenag­er up­stairs used to play them, and I’d lie in my room with the win­dow open and just lis­ten. If this goes on long enough I’ll drop in one or two more of their songs, which are a unique blend of soul­ful Amer­i­can elec­tric fla­vors. It turns out they were most­ly a ve­hi­cle for John Foger­ty, who wrote a lot of songs that you’d rec­og­nize even if you nev­er heard of Cree­dence. But any­how, this is just a cov­er of Screamin’ Jay’s orig­i­nal.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. Creedence’s take on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. Now, as for video, oh my good­ness gra­cious. I guess I should start with the clas­sic Screamin’ Jay shtick. And since I rec­om­mend the Cree­dence record­ing, here they are at Wood­stock (s­lop­py), and then here’s John Foger­ty in 1997; a very fine per­for­mance, maybe the purest, and John re­al­ly brings it on gui­tar.

Now, for some rea­son, there seems to be some­thing that hap­pens when two fa­mous and en­tire­ly un­re­lat­ed mu­si­cians get to­geth­er in a stu­dio that makes them want to do I Put a Spell on You. For ex­am­ple, here’s Bri­tish blueswom­an Mi­ca Paris with a super-hot slow-burn, some dude named David Gil­mour play­ing gui­tar. Speak­ing of Gil­mour, here he is back­ing up an­ther skin­ny Brit white boy, name of Pete Town­shend. Two of the biggest gui­tar names in his­to­ry on stage and they don’t play much, but you might want to watch this any­how, Pete bites down hard on the vo­cals in a weird­ly campy way but with to­tal com­mit­men­t, it’s a re­al­ly ace piece of blues singing. Fa­mous gui­tarist/singer com­bos? Here’s Jeff Beck and Joss Stone and they’re on­ly OK. Let’s leave the gui­tars be­hind and ap­pre­ci­ate some late-stage Joe Cock­er; not everyone’s cup of tea but I thought it was hon­est and mov­ing.

I’ve saved the best  —  well, the weird­est, any­how  —  for the last; Ig­gy Pop with French chanteuse Cather­ine Ringer. I to­tal­ly lack words to de­scribe what they do, but if you watch it, you won’t soon for­get it. Se­ri­ous­ly.


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From: Rob (Mar 18 2018, at 17:05)

I hadn't been aware of the Iggy Pop version, pretty cool, thanks for that.

Best recent take I've heard is Samantha Fish

BTW Old Screamin' Jay had another hit, quite um profound in its own way

"Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!

I don't think I can take much more

Let it go


I got a pain down inside

It won't be denied

Every time I try

I can't be satisfied

Let it go!"


From: APĀ² (Mar 24 2018, at 07:41)

"It's Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and he's a wild man, so bug off."

I have Jim Jarmush to thank for discovering this great song, which he used in *Stranger than Paradise* (which I greatly recommend).


From: Martin Fowler (Mar 26 2018, at 14:04)

A version of this song I've really liked is by Natalia Mateo, a Romainian Jazz singer. It's on her album Heart of Darkness, which is one of my favorite recent discoveries. There's also a live version at


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