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Cab Calloway - Nagasaki (1935)

by Nicholas Sammond

This popular jazz tune, written by Harry Warren and Mort Dixon in the 1920s, is covered by Cab Calloway and his orchestra in 1935. The song was also used in Season 3 of the television series Sanford & Son, sung by Fred as he cleans up after the partying the night before. Calloway's version of Nagasaki, however, inflects the song with its own particular meaning. The lyrics (as in all versions) emphasize the almost inherent exoticism to performing and entertaining life regardless of cultural/geographic origin. Furthermore, the song poses the performer as the audience as the singer tells of the entertainment in Nagasaki. The specific frenetic tempo of Calloway's version seems to bring out two opposing aspects of performing. That is, the unnatural aspect of the performing life, which poses performers as beyond the everyday world, as well as the sense that it is in fact entirely natural, speaks certain truths and is indeed necessary to survival (even as it propagates unnaturalness and stereotype).

Cab Calloway - Nagasaki

This popular jazz tune by Harry Warren and Mort Dixon is covered by Cab Calloway and his orchestra in 1935. The song was also used in season 3 of the television series Sanford & Son, sung by Fred as he cleans up after the partying the night before.

from Cab Calloway and his Orchestra 1935-1940 (1935)
Creator: Cab Calloway
Posted by Nicholas Sammond
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