Just a Gigolo (song)

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"Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo"
Song
Published 1929, in Vienna
Released 1929
Language German
Writer Leonello Casucci
Julius Brammer

"Just a Gigolo" is a popular song, adapted by Irving Caesar in 1929 from the Austrian song "Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo", composed in 1928 in Vienna by Leonello Casucci to lyrics written in 1924 by Julius Brammer.[1][2]

History[edit]

The song was first published by Wiener Boheme Verlag in 1929 and performed by several orchestras in Germany that year, including Dajos Béla's orchestra with the singer Kurt Mühlhardt. In Italy Daniel Serra sang a version, followed by Sirio Di Piramo and his orchestra in 1930, while other countries provided their own versions.[3]

The original version is a poetic vision of the social collapse experienced in Austria after World War I, represented by the figure of a former hussar who remembers himself parading in his uniform, while now he has to get by as a lonely hired dancer. The music features a simple melodic sequence, but nonetheless has a clever harmonic construction that highlights the mixed emotions in the lyrics, adding a nostalgic, bittersweet effect.

The success of the song prompted publishers Chappell & Co. to buy the rights and order an English version from Irving Caesar, a very popular lyricist of the time. Caesar eliminated the specific Austrian references and, in the often-omitted verse (but included in the 1931 recording by Bing Crosby), set the action in a Paris cafe, where a local character tells his sad story. Thus, the lyrics retained their sentimental side but lost their historic value.

"Just a Gigolo" appeared in a 1931 film, a 1932 Betty Boop cartoon and a 1993 TV-series, all titled after the song. The song was recorded by many musicians of the time, including Louis Armstrong and (in German) Richard Tauber.

The film Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo, directed by David Hemmings in 1979, was titled after the first verse of the original lyrics, but the "Just a Gigolo" title was used for US distribution. In this film, the song was performed by Marlene Dietrich, in her last film appearance.

"Just a Gigolo"/"I Ain't Got Nobody" medley[edit]

Origin[edit]

"Just a Gigolo" is best known in a form recorded by Louis Prima in 1956, where it was paired in a medley with another old standard, "I Ain't Got Nobody" (words by Roger A. Graham and music by Spencer Williams, 1915). Although these two songs have nothing else in common, the popularity of Prima's combination, and of the Village People's 1978 and David Lee Roth's 1985 cover versions of the medley, has led to the mistaken perception by some that the songs are two parts of a single original composition.[citation needed]

The coupling of the two songs had its genesis in an earlier Louis Prima recording from 1945, which was then adapted by Sam Butera for Prima's 1950s Las Vegas stage show, during which Prima would revisit his old hits in a new, jive-and-jumping style. The success of that act gained Prima a recording deal with Capitol Records, which aimed to capture on record the atmosphere of his shows. The first album, titled The Wildest! and released in November 1956,[4] opened with "Just a Gigolo"/"I Ain't Got Nobody", which then became Prima's signature number and helped relaunch his career.

Recording[edit]

The recording session took place in April 1956 at Capitol Tower Studios, Los Angeles, and was produced by Voyle Gilmore. Prima was backed by his Las Vegas group, Sam Butera & the Witnesses, in its original line-up: Sam Butera (tenor sax), James "Red" Blount (trombone), William "Willie" McCumber (piano), Jack Marshall (guitar), Amado Rodriques (bass) and Robert "Bobby" Morris (drums). Keely Smith, who was Prima's wife and an important part of his act, joined the Witnesses for the characteristic backing vocals. Prima sang the lead but didn't play the trumpet on this track.

List of versions[edit]

The following artists have released or performed versions of the song:[5]

Cultural references[edit]

The song is sung in Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse comic strip first published May 14, 1931 (part of a story called "High Society").

The song lyrics are parodied in an original Star Trek novel, How Much for Just the Planet? (1987) by John M. Ford.

On his 1962 album, Oh Yeah, a piano-playing Charles Mingus repeatedly sings the first line of the song in his own composition, "Devil Woman".

The Crosby version of the song plays during the final scene and credits of Mad Men season 6/episode 3: "The Collaborators".

The song is being played on a piano during the Zeppelin scene in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade while two characters are talking about a woman.

The Prima verson of the song can be heard in the trailer for the 2013 John Turturro film, Fading Gigolo.

The song is featured in the 2013 rhythm game Just Dance 2014 for Nintendo Wii, Wii U, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The Prima version is also sung by Robert De Niro in Mad Dog and Glory (1993).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mihaela Petrescu (2007). Vamps, Eintaenzer, and Desperate Housewives: Social Dance in Weimar Literature and Film. ProQuest. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-0-549-44284-4. 
  2. ^ Schaal, Hans-Jürgen (2004). Jazz-Standards. Das Lexikon. 3. Auflage. (in German). Kassel: Bärenreiter. p. 269. ISBN 9783761814147. 
  3. ^ Mazzoletti, Adriano (1983). Il jazz in Italia: dalle origini alle grandi orchestre (in Italian). Rome. p. 92. ISBN 88-7063-704-2. 
  4. ^ "Reviews and Ratings of New Albums". The Billboard: page 26. 17 November 1956. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Just a Gigolo". Song Search. Warner Chappell Music. 
  6. ^ "Schöner Gigolo". Song Search. Warner Chappell Music. 
  7. ^ "Total Balalaika Show". 
  8. ^ "Saxparty 12" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 1985. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "Sergio Pángaro & Baccarat's album "Baccarat en castellano"". 

External links[edit]