#1 (4 weeks) hit single by Michael Jackson in 1980
The original version is a poetic vision of the social collapse lived in Austria after World War I, represented by the figure of a former hussar who remembers himself parading in his uniform, while now he has to get by as a lonely, hired dancer. The music features a simple melodic sequence, but nonetheless has a clever harmonic construction that highlights the mixed emotions in the lyrics, adding a nostalgic, bittersweet effect.
The success of the song prompted a Tin Pan Alley publisher to buy the rights and order an English version from Irving Caesar, a very popular lyricist of the time. Caesar eliminated the specific Austrian references and, in the often-omitted verse, set the action in a Paris cafe, where a local character tells his sad story. Thus, the lyrics retained their sentimental side but lost their historic value.
"Just a Gigolo" is best known in a form first recorded by Louis Prima in 1956, where it was paired in a medley with another old standard, "I Ain't Got Nobody" (words by Roger Graham and music by Spencer Williams, 1915). Although these two songs have nothing else in common, the popularity of Prima's combination, and of David Lee Roth's 1985 cover version of the medley, has led to the mistaken perception ...