Betty Boop cartoon featuring the original version of Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher”
Cab Calloway sings “Hi De Ho Man” on Sesame Street with a call-and-response very similar to the one in “Minnie the Moocher”
Cab Calloway sings “Minnie the Moocher” with his band
"Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway
(Words/Music: Album: The Blues Brothers Soundtrack, Atlantic 1980)
There are so many things that I love about this song that I don’t know if I can contain them all in one post. First, this classic signature song by legendary showman Cab Calloway begins with a sultry rhythm emphasized by a muted trumpet. In between verse sections, Calloway engages in a highly entertaining call-and-response of scat-style lyrics with the audience. It is hard to imagine being in the audience for this performance and not participating and having fun. Finally, part way through the third verse, the song kicks into a double-time tempo which not only adds some more excitement to the song, but also makes the call and response with the audience so difficult that it is simply humorous. In telling the story of “Minnie the Moocher,” Calloway’s song transcends the lyrics and meaning to become the epitome of crowd participation songs.
I was first introduced to Cab Calloway, and this version of the song, in the movie The Blues Brothers in which Calloway entertains a crowd on the verge of turning hostile because of the delay of the headlining band, The Blues Brothers. Like many other cameos in the movie (John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin to name a few), Dan Akroyd and John Belushi’s film brought a renewed interest in his career and exposed him to many new audiences. I know that when I first watched the film, I had no idea who most of the musicians were and had no idea that the songs were among the most significant recordings in the 20th Century. Upon reflection, I think becoming a fan of the film is one of the most important decisions I made in my musical development.
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