Hanni El Khatib, a contemporary LA-based singer-songwriter of Palestinian & Filipino descent, is getting a lot of KCRW airplay these days. He’s on board to perform at KCRW’s big Masquerade Ball this Saturday night October 27th (it’s sold out, but VIP cabanas are still available). Hanni’s KCRW hit is “You Rascal You”.
So imagine my surprise, while researching music for a small consulting job, that I came across the original version, a 1930s song performed by the great Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, which was second only to Duke Ellington at the time; maybe Henderson had an even bigger following. Jimmy Noone & his Apex Club Orchestra, a society band in Chicago, also covered the song. And I’m told that Satchmo and the Mills Brothers did it too. The original version is about cuckoldry and revenge. Hanni’s version changes some of the lyrics, but it’s clear his version is based on the original versions, which were recorded in the 1930s, the glory days of the Cotton Club and the Harlem Renaissance as well as the big band era in Chicago. Who would have ever thought to connect Hanni to these two early versions?
The original has some pretty naughty lines, e.g.:
“what is it you’ve got you rascal you
that makes my wife think you’re so hot
I’ll be glad when you’re gone you rascal you
I’m going to cut off your hands off too
and something else that belongs to you
I’ll be glad when you’re dead you rascal you”
Here’s the 30s version by the great Fletcher Henderson:
And Hanni El Khatib’s new version of the old classic: