Song of the Week: “Cocktails for Two” by Spike Jones

For anyone interested in lyric heterogeneity, in cacozelia (“faulty imitation”), or in merely amiable mayhem, consider Spike Jones’ 1957 arrangement of “Cocktails for Two” by Arthur Jonston and Sam Coslow.  This 1934 (post-Prohibition) number had already been a commercial success for Jones and his City Slickers band when they parodied the “all-time classic” in 1944.  (In those days, to call a popular song a classic was invariably a joke.)

The second “Cocktails” remastered their hit in “amazing” high fidelity.  “Notice,” Jones said, in his introduction, included here, “how even an old hiccup sounds like new.”  The mix of prose, song, and pure sound, all machine-enhanced, piles novelty on hyperbole and spins then a propulsive sense of exorbitance.  Plus Carl Grayson, lead vocalist, models how to sing while grinning.

-Judith Hall

Judith Hall is the author of four poetry collections, including To Put The Mouth To (Morrow, 1992), a National Poetry Series selection, and Three Trios, translations of the imaginary poet J II (Northwestern, 2007).  She also collaborated with David Lehman on writing Poetry Forum, which she illustrated (Bayeux Arts, 2007).  She has received awards from the Guggenheim and Ingram Merrill foundations and from the National Endowment from the Arts.

Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints?

Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

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