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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Witch Doctor" David Seville (1958, Liberty Records, 55079)


"Oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang," toots the chorus of this infectious Halloween favorite from 1958. Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. wrote and performed the tune under the guise of fictitious character David Seville. It was Bagdasarian's first attempt at utilizing a V-M tape recorder, which allowed his voice to be sped up to double speed for the part of the witch doctor. The result was Bagdasarian's first number one hit which was released during the summer season by Liberty Records. The novelty single initially went as far as selling over 1,000,000 copies in the United States alone.


Later, Bagdasarian reached further success by implementing the same technique to create the ever popular Alvin and the Chipmunks in their debut hit The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't be Late). Just as Witch Doctor continues to be a staple song for Halloween, so has The Chipmunk Song become a standard for the yule tide season.

Ironically, Bagdasarian released a cover version to his own song, Witch Doctor, using the Chipmunks and his David Seville creations. The cover song first aired on an episode of The Alvin Show and was released in the Chipmunks' second album, Sing Again with The Chipmunks (1960, Liberty Records, 3159). During the intro, David Seville complains that he has already "made that record once!" -- in which Alvin coyly responds "But not with us!"

Although, the original version of Witch Doctor was released as a single (with Don't Whistle at Me, Baby on its B-Side), that very same year Bagdasarian re-released the hit song and included it in his second album David Seville: The Witch Doctor and Friends (1958, Liberty Records, 3092). Since then, it has found its way into many novelty compilation albums (100 Hits: Halloween 2009, DMG, 100 038; Dr. Demento: 20th Anniversary Collection 1991, Rhino Records, R2 70743; etc.) and has been covered by numerous artists (Don Lang, Sha Na Na, Instant Funk, Devo, Aqua, etc.).



LYRICS

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
And then the witch doctor, he told me what to do
He said that ....

  (Chorus:)
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang...
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang

I told the witch doctor you didn't love me true
I told the witch doctor you didn't love me nice
And then the witch doctor, he gave me this advice
He said that ...

  (Chorus:)
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang...
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang

You've been keeping love from me
Just like you were a miser
And I'll admit I wasn't very smart
So I went out and found myself
A guy that's so much wiser
And he taught me the way to win your heart

My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to say
My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to do
I know that you'll be mine when I say this to you
Oh, Baby ....

  (Chorus:)
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang...
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang
  Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
  Walla walla, bing bang




Listen to "WITCH DOCTOR" - original 1958 version


Here are two popular albums from the 1970s that feature a generic version of the song by the same unknown artist:

1975, Power Records, BR508

1977, Peter Pan Records, 8126

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