Just a Gigolo (song)
|"Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo"|
|Published||1929, in Vienna|
|Composer(s)||Leonello Casucci (in 1928)|
|Lyricist(s)||Julius Brammer (1924, in German)|
Irving Caesar (1929, in English)
"Just a Gigolo" is a popular song, adapted by Irving Caesar into English in 1929 from the Austrian tango "Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo", composed in 1928 in Vienna by Leonello Casucci to lyrics written in 1924 by Julius Brammer.
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 Daniele Serra sang a version entitled "Gigolo", followed by Sirio Di Piramo and his orchestra in 1930, while other countries provided their own versions.
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. Popular versions in 1931 were by Ted Lewis, Ben Bernie, Bing Crosby and Leo Reisman.
"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
"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). This pairing links the life of a gigolo ("people know the part I'm playing, paid for every dance..", to the outcome for singer ending up alone ("I ain't got Nobody)". The popularity of Prima's combination, and of 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.
The coupling of the two songs had its genesis in an earlier Louis Prima recording from 1945 (V Disc 554, side A), 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, opened with "Just a Gigolo"/"I Ain't Got Nobody", which then became Prima's signature number and helped relaunch his career.
Louis Prima's recording
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
The following artists have released or performed versions of the song:
- Damia (1931) as "C'est mon Gigolo" (French version adapted from L. Casucci by A. Mauprey, J. Lenoir)
- Fats Waller
- Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli in Rome (1949)
- Art Tatum
- Sol Hoʻopiʻi (1928)
- Louis Armstrong March 9 (1931)
- Ted Lewis and His Band (Columbia 2378 D) (1931)
- Ben Bernie and His Orchestra (Brunswick 6023) (1931)
- Bing Crosby with The Gus Arnheim Orchestra (recorded March 2, 1931) – includes Paris verse.
- Leo Reisman and His Orchestra (Victor 22606) (1931)
- Jaye P. Morgan (1953) - a minor hit, reaching No. 22 in the Billboard charts.
- Harry James (1952)
- Louis Prima (1956)
- Sarah Vaughan - included in the album At Mister Kelly's (1957)
- Eino Virtanen, a Finnish version called "Kaunis Gigolo" (1958)
- Thelonious Monk (1954, 1958, 1962)
- Gus Backus
- Carmen McRae - included in her album Song Time (1960).
- Jean Shepherd (1965) opened the July 29, 1965 episode of his show with the song
- Erroll Garner (1965)
- Connie Francis - for the album Connie & Clyde – Hit Songs of the 30s (1968)
- Oscar Peterson (1970)
- Peter Allen (1974)
- Prima's version was covered by Alex Harvey in 1979 on his The Mafia Stole My Guitar album.
- Village People (1978) recorded a cover of Prima's version.
- Marlene Dietrich title song of film Just a Gigolo (1978)
- Barbie and the Kens (1980)
- Javier Gurruchaga during the film Besame Tonta (1981)
- Bob (Rivers) & Zip (1985), with alternate lyrics "Just a Big Ego"
- David Lee Roth (1985) (reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100). The music video for his recording parodies a number of well-known pop-music performers Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol, Willie Nelson, Culture Club, cameos appearances and cultural trends of the first half of the 1980s.
- Tiny Tim (1987) on the record "Tiptoe Through the Tulips"
- Tony Martin (1985)
- Marty Grosz (1992, 2005)
- Leningrad Cowboys (1993)
- Tony Slattery (1993) as the closing song for the TV show "Just a Gigolo" in which he also stars.
- Amanda Lear utilizes the song in her live repertoire and a 1998 recording can found on the compilation Made of Blood and Honey (reportedly a #1 hit in Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra).
- Dick Hyman Group and Howard Alden (1999) in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown
- Lou Bega (2001)
- In 2003 Israeli singer and TV star, Gidi Gov, released a Hebrew version of the song, called "Gigolo" on his album Moondance (Hebrew: ריקוד ירח).
- The University of Illinois Marching Illini are also well known for performing the song as part of their post-game show.
- Swedish dansband Ingmar Nordströms recorded a Swedish-language version of the song, called "Gösta Gigolo", on the 1985 album Saxparty 12. The title is pronounced the same as in English, but refers to a man named Gösta and is hanging around the dance floor in the hotel of a small town.
- Sergio Pángaro & Baccarat (Spanish version, 2003)
- Tyler Lewis (2006)
- In 2007 Paolo Belli released "Io Sono Un Gigolò", an Italian version of the song.
- Lucio Dalla and Francesco De Gregori, with new Italian text, on their 2010 live album Work in progress.
- Mina (singer) recorded and released the song on her 2012 album 12 (american song book).
- The Jive Aces on the King of the Swingers album (A Salute to Louis Prima).
In popular culture
- 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's 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 song is briefly sung in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by the character Martha.
- 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 version of the song can be heard in the trailer for the 2013 John Turturro film, Fading Gigolo.
- The Prima version of 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).
- The video for David Lee Roth's version is featured on the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Eating Contest" (1993).
- A line of David Lee Roth's version is heard during the song "Goofy Goober Rock" in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004).
- The Prima version was featured Fox animated series The Simpsons episode "Looking for Mr. Goodbart".
- The song was used by the well-known YouTube channel Greenboys for their video "Yoda Sings".
- The Prima version was referenced in the Mel Brooks film "Young Frankenstein." Igor sings the song briefly while pretending to be a disembodied head.
- The song was also covered for the opening credits for 2014 film, Bad Grandpa
- Mihaela Petrescu (2007). Vamps, Eintaenzer, and Desperate Housewives: Social Dance in Weimar Literature and Film. ProQuest. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-0-549-44284-4.
- Schaal, Hans-Jürgen (2004). Jazz-Standards. Das Lexikon. 3. Auflage (in German). Kassel: Bärenreiter. p. 269. ISBN 9783761814147.
- Mazzoletti, Adriano (1983). Il jazz in Italia: dalle origini alle grandi orchestre (in Italian). Rome. p. 92. ISBN 88-7063-704-2.
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 534. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
- "Louis Prima And His Orchestra / Lt Bob Crosby (USMC) And His V-Disc Bob Cats /* - Just A Gigolo / It's A Long Way To Tipperary (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1945-05-17. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- "Reviews and Ratings of New Albums". The Billboard. 17 November 1956. p. 26. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
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- "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 322. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
- "allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- "Schöner Gigolo". Song Search. Warner Chappell Music.[permanent dead link]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 11, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Saxparty 12" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 1985. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- "Baccarat en castellano, un disco de Baccarat". Rock.com.ar. Retrieved 2016-06-14.