FOFA #2227 – More Than Just a Gigolo

Feb 22, 2019 · 2124 views
All these performers at one time or another, felt they were trapped in lousy jobs. From left to right: Louis Prima, Keely Smith, David Bowie, Victor Willis and David Lee Roth.

All these performers at one time or another, felt they were trapped in lousy jobs. From left to right: Louis Prima, Keely Smith, David Bowie, Victor Willis and David Lee Roth.

Today we salute all the hard working men and women of the world’s oldest profession, by taking a look at the song “Just a Gigolo” as it evolved through the past nine decades.

One of the more extraordinary pieces of music we adore is the song “Just a Gigolo,” an Austrian tango from 1928 that was transformed into a jazz standard that echoes the melancholy feeling of being trapped in lousy job without love or respect.

The original “Just a Gigolo” song is based on a poem that describes the societal collapse after World War One, represented by a soldier who once paraded around in a beautiful uniform but now, like Tina Tuner, is a private dancer, dancing for money.

In 1931, Bing Crosby had the song translated in English and changed it from an Austrian soldier to a Frenchman in Paris, but it still retained its basic message about war.

In 1946, Louis Prima juiced up the song by dropping Bing’s intro about a sad soldier and melding it with an old blues tune “I Ain’t Got Nobody.” It became a big hit for his Las Vegas act and pretty much cemented “Just a Gigolo – I Ain’t Got Nobody” together forever.

Lover of the ladies, Bessie Smith, sings “I Ain’t Got Nobody”

The song was made into a 1978 feature film “Just a Gigolo” starring David Bowie that bombed at the box office but gave new life to the song when the Village People covered it for the movie’s soundtrack. Marlene Dietrich came out of retirement for the movie to sing “Just a Gigolo” which she used to perform in her cabaret act.

Then David Lee Roth used the song to lampoon MTV in 1985 in the middle of a heated fight with his band Van Halen, with a music video featuring drag queens, sexy women and Diamond Dave doing a strip tease for a Catholic priest who dies from a heart attack.

Shout out to Peter Allen who sang Bing Crosby’s version in his cabaret act in 1988.

Hope you enjoyed our musical journey looking at how a good song from 1928 got transformed time and time again through the decades.

Originally posted on 10.05.15. Subscribe to Feast of Fun Plus and never miss out.



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