“Alligator Wine” – Jeff Buckley vs. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

While customizing this blog to ready it for publication, I opened up Spotify to give myself a soundtrack to work to. I didn’t have anything particular in mind, in which case my go to music is usually something I’m intimately familiar with already. Seeing as I was reading old blog posts earlier today where I mentioned Jeff Buckley, I figured I’d let him guide me in creating this Frankenstein blog.

Although I don’t own this version, I put on the Grace – Legacy Edition because I was curious about the extra tracks that were included. Seeing as Jeff died so young, and before he could really put out another full album of material, a lot of the bonus or rare tracks from him are covers. One song in particular stuck out to me as it wasn’t typical of his style. The song is “Alligator Wine,” and it can only be described as a deranged creeping piece of blues music, characteristic of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins weirdness and theatricality.

Jeff Buckley’s version sticks relatively close to the original, at least in terms of the basic song structure. My theory is that he was just fooling around in the studio and they decided to record the song just for fun. His vocal exaggeration attempts to mimic Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, but just ends up making him sound like a punk rock boogeyman. I love the “hoooah’s” and “bloooah’s” he makes at the end of a phrase. He even sneaks in a sneeze after the line “It’ll make you cough and sneeze.” The most entertaining part of the song though, is around 2:16 when he sounds like he’s screaming in Chinese. That’s when he just lets loose some crazy gibberish in between finishing the song with one last chorus. It was really fun to hear that side of him. Take a listen to his version below.

Jeff Buckley - Grace Legacy Edition Album Cover
Jeff Buckley – Grace Legacy Edition

Jeff Buckley – Alligator Wine

If you’re not familiar with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, his claim to fame was the song “I Put A Spell On You.” You know the one; it’s on everyone’s Halloween playlist. Well this song is equally spooktacular, but definitely underrated.The beginning of the song is just drums and guitar, like in Jeff Buckley’s version, but at the first chorus, a piano and saxophone come in as well. Screamin’ Jay’s typical macabre depravity is showcased in his lyrics as he describes how to make this so called alligator wine. Around 2:33 he starts to lose his mind and sputters out these half laughs, which ends in an odd cough/laugh hybrid and him questioning “Could we hear that?” Hear what man? You losing your mind? I sure heard it. Listen to the original wackiness below.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins Cow Fingers & Mosquito Pie Album Cover
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Cow Fingers & Mosquito Pie

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Alligator Wine