Janet Karro Comparative Blog

A Comparative Blog of Janet Karro's Videos to other Artists

Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You”

Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” & Janet Karro’s “Without You”

Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You”

Jazz, blues, R&B, folk and gospel – these are the musical genres that Nina Simone specialized in. The American singer also wrote songs, played the piano, arranged music and was even a civil rights activist. Her early success came in 1954 when she recorded “I Love You, Porgy” but the song “I Put a Spell on You” was not released until after the Civil Rights era in 1965. Here are the first few lines of the song:

I put a spell on you

‘Cause you’re mine

You better stop the things you do

I ain’t lyin’, no I ain’t lyin’…

The Nina Simone hit was originally sung by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. However, it was Simone’s version which turned it into a signature song for the singer. Recorded complete with horns and strings, her interpretation of the lyrics turned it into a sultry love song that has thrilling lines and a soaring climax.

Those who aren’t familiar with the Nina Simone version of the song may have heard it in recent pop culture, as it is associated with the hit trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey”. No matter how you stumbled upon the song, you are bound to be enthralled by its message which is about putting a spell and loving someone. The last couple of lines in particular are interesting, as it says “I don’t care if you don’t want me ‘cause I’m your, yours, yours anyhow”. Putting a spell on someone and claiming that person as yours, even if the feeling is unrequited, is definitely a situation that most listeners can relate to – thus the popularity of the song.

 

Janet Karro’s “Without You”

Now, how does “I Put a Spell on You” compare with Janet Karro’s “Without You”?  The track is part of Karro’s first spoken word album called “Lady Ocean” and this track in particular has the following first two lines:

Caught in prison of the time

Without your breath by my side…

Similar to all the other tracks in her Lady Ocean album, “Without You” is accompanied by mystifying music as she delivers line after line of the poem with passion. If I Put a Spell on You is about being caught up in the rapturous feeling of being in love with someone and claiming that person as yours, even if there’s a response to it or not, Without You has similar overtones. The poem is all about life having no meaning without the person who you’re reading the poem to. “If there is no you, if there is no you…” are the last phrases of the poem. Without you and if there is no you simply means that there’s almost no meaning to life without someone special to live it for. Just as it is when you have strong feelings for someone, there’s a sense of loss if you do not have that person by your side, which is the gist of both “Without You” and Nina Simone’s “If I Put a Spell On You”.

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Peggy Lee’s “Fever”

Peggy Lee’s “Fever” & Janet Karro’s “Tender Giant”

Peggy Lee’s “Fever”

If you love classic songs, you will instantly recognize the first strains of Peggy Lee’s version of “Fever”.

Never know how much I love you

Never know how much I care

When you put your arms around me

I get a fever that’s so hard to bear…

Written by Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley, the song was originally recorded by Little Willie John. However, it was Peggy Lee’s version of the song which made it hit the musical charts. Peggy Lee was a jazz and pop music artist who also writes songs and acts. Her career has spun six decades and “Fever” has become one of her signature songs.

Over the years, artists from all musical genres recorded their own versions of the song. From Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis Presley, Ray Charles to Nancy Sinatra – and recently, Madonna, Beyonce and Michael Buble – all these artists have given their own interpretation of the song.

As a jazz and pop artist, Peggy Lee’s version of the song has a sultry lilt to it. When today’s generation of music lovers hear her interpretation of that song today, they would immediately tag it as a true-blue classic. It’s interesting to note that in 1958, Peggy Lee included lyrics without copyright to the song, specifically the second and third verses. She thought that the Little Willie John version were too risqué, so she added her own twist to it even without credit.

This is definitely a good thing because her version of the song hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts, it became Peggy Lee’s signature song and was even nominated for a Grammy “Record of the Year” award. A couple of years later, Elvis Presley recorded his own version of the song which was included in his “Elvis is Back” album.

Janet Karro’s “Tender Giant”  

 

As a spoken word performer, Janet Karro recorded a track entitled “Tender Giant”. This is included in her first album ‘Lady Ocean’ which is meant to convey the message of unconditional love and kindness in human relationships. Let’s read through the first few lines of the poem:

Would you fight the devil in the grave of nothingness?

Would you build cathedrals in the middle of emptiness?

Would you break apart the mountains in the midst of wilderness?

Would you dive the volcanoes in the throat of flawlessness?

Everything seems possible to thee and yet…

The background music as she reads the poem is mysterious yet oddly relaxing. Much like Peggy Lee’s version of the song “Fever”, the track “Tender Giant” evokes a certain emotion. As a listener, you can hear the frustration of the poet who says that everything seems to be possible but there are obstacles along the way. For the second part of the poem, lines like ‘Your moist lips reach out to her perfection” is the perfect complement to the feeling brought about by lines from the song “Fever”.

In the end, both Fever and Tender Giant evoke emotions of love, unbridled passion and feelings which are hard but wonderful to bear.

Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”

Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” &

Janet Karro’s “Lady Ocean”

Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”

One of the most iconic figures in recent history is actress, singer and model Marilyn Monroe. Starring in a number of films from the 1950s to the early 1960s, she is the ultimate sex symbol who is still being imitated by Hollywood starts up to now. One of the most memorable performances that she has is singing the Happy Birthday song to President John F. Kennedy during his 45th birthday celebration.

After the typical lyrics of the “Happy Birthday” song, Marilyn herself inserted the following lines:

Thanks, Mr. President

For all the things you’ve done

The battles that you’ve won

The way you deal with U.S. Steel

And our problems by the ton

We thank you so much…

In a dazzling, tight gown, the performance is as memorable as the song – and even the circumstances surrounding it. Monroe was said to have an affair with President Kennedy, whose wife was glaringly missing during the event. Also, the sultry way by which she performed the song was definitely in keeping with her image as a major sex symbol during those times. Her version of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” was accompanied by jazz pianist Hank Jones – and has been re-enacted numerous times in Hollywood films and television shows.

As far as the lyrics are concerned, they’re pretty straightforward. The additional lines which come after the greeting are simply a recognition of the work that the president did during those times – along with the battles he won and the way that he dealt with the nation’s problems.

Janet Karro’s “Lady Ocean” 

 

Spoken word performer Janet Karro has a track off her “Lady Ocean” album which is a poem of the same name. A few lines of the poem include:

She says, water is love and love is you

Water’s dripping from all over you

Ripples make circles as if they were courting you

My heart, filled with water, is blessed by you…

Much like the other tracks off the album, the background music of Lady Ocean is quite soothing and relaxing. You will hear the sounds of the ocean’s waves as Karro meaningfully recites the lines of the poem. The track describes a Lady Ocean who equates water with love, and as one who pushes shadows away. Lady Ocean ends with the phrase ‘symphony lost’.

If Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” boasts of Kennedy’s accomplishment or at least serves as a recognition of them; Janet Karro’s Lady Ocean is a recognition of sorts of the subject’s abilities. Having that comparison of water with love is similar to how a simple birthday greeting can turn into one with love-ridden overtones – based on the person who is singing it.

For the poem Lady Ocean and the song Happy Birthday, Mr. President, the goal is to recognize the worth of the subject by delivering lines which come from the heart – no matter how simple they may appear on the surface.

Jessica Rabbit’s “Why Don’t You Do Right”

Jessica Rabbit’s “Why Don’t You Do Right” &

Janet Karro’s “All the Prisoners of Love”

Jessica Rabbit’s “Why Don’t You Do Right”

Jessica Rabbit is a character in the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. In 2008, she was named by Empire Magazine as among the “100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time”. She’s also considered as one of the sexiest cartoon characters, along with Betty Boop and the Caramel Bunny character of Cadbury.

In the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, there is a scene where Jessica Rabbit’s legs first appear behind the blue curtains of the stage. While singing “Why Don’t You Do Right”, her whole body appears and she sultrily sings the rest of the song. Here are the first few lines of the song:

You had plenty of money in 1922.

You let other women make a fool of you.

Why don’t you do right,

like some other men do?

Get out of here,

get me some money too.

You’re sittin’ down and wonderin’ what it’s all about.

If you ain’t got no money, they will put you out.

why don’t you do right,

like some other men do?

Voiced by Amy Irving for the songs and Kathleen Turner for the speaking parts, the song became a hit when it was shown in the film. However, the original composition was considered as a combination of blues and jazz, and is now considered a standard woman’s blues song. It is written in 1936 by Kansas Joe McCoy and tells of woman’s complaints about her man’s financial instability. The woman is thus asking her man to go out and earn a living if he cannot support her, thus asking him to do right by her. The jazz song was also famously recorded by Peggy Lee.

Janet Karro’s “All the Prisoners of Love”

 

Now, how does Jessica Rabbit’s song “Why Don’t You Do Right” compare with Janet Karro’s “All the Prisoners of Love”? To start right off, here are the first few parts of the poem.

All the prisoners of love I salute thee

All the prisoners of love I congrat thee to thee

The ones that cling to the tree of love

That grows out of strength…

This poem is part of Janet Karro’s first spoken word album entitled Lady Ocean. Aside from All the Prisoners of Love, it has other tracks like Tender Giant, White Attire and Without You. What makes “All the Prisoners of Love” comparable with Jessica Rabbit’s “Why Don’t You Do Right” is that the lyrics have something to do with being a prisoner of that feeling of being in love.

With Jessica Rabbit’s song, she is actually insisting that her man do right by her – which means that she knows that something is off and wrong with the relationship. Despite having strong feelings for her man, she does see the light and is not being blinded by what’s staring in front of her which is the man not providing her with exactly what she needs.

With Karro’s All the Prisoners of Love, the writer says that she salutes those who are caught up in the trap of that tumultuous feeling of being in love. The common ground that the two tracks have is being imprisoned by love. Only, one realizes that love is not enough while for the other spoken word song which is “All the Prisoners of Love”, it shows an admiration for those who allow themselves to get caught in the emotion.

Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”

Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” &

Janet Karro’s “White Attire”

Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”

A singer, songwriter, poet, musician and novelist, Leonard Cohen hails from Canada and has won a Juno Award for his work. His career spans decades but here, we will talk about one of his most notable songs released in the 1980s entitled “Dance Me to the End of Love”. Here are the first few lines of the song:

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone

Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon

Show me slowly what I only know the limits of

Dance me to the end of love…

Written by Cohen himself, the track was first released in 1984 as a track from the album Various Positions. Music lovers described the single as being on the brink of becoming a standard, with versions from other singers like Kate Gibson, Jorge Drexler, Mark Seymour, The Civil Wars and Patricia O’Callaghan.

So what exactly does the lyrics of the song mean? According to Cohen, the song was actually inspired by the Holocaust. A specific line which is “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin”, Cohen refers to as being equivalent to the consummation of life. He says that the end of this existence and the passionate element in life’s consummation lies beauty. It’s also about surrendering to the one’s beloved.

Janet Karro’s “White Attire”

 

Every song tells a story and if there’s a dark background behind the composition of Leonard Cohen’s song which is “Dance Me to the End of Love”, what about Janet Karro’s “White Attire”? The background of this track off the Lady Ocean spoken word album is a merry wedding theme. Here are the first four lines of the poem:

Oh, I saw her dressed in white,

I thought she was looking like a bride,

Rougy lips and shiny eyes

Wrapped around her pearls and chimes.

The rest of the poem’s lines describe how radiant the bride looks as ‘she stands like a rose in the aisle’. Then, the last line goes like this: “At the altar, the groom and bride would be joined in Holy tie”. Janet Karro’s White Attire spoken word track is actually quite a ways from the dark, ghoulish background of Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love.

Perhaps the connection lies in the fact that the song is about surrendering to one’s beloved while the poem is about the culmination of that love. No matter how many sad songs you listen to, there will always be one poem similar to “White Attire” that will give you hope about the bounty of love – which hopefully ends up with man and woman in the altar.