It’s a long, slender cigar, derived from the Spanish panatela, for a long thin biscuit, and the Italian panatello for small loaf, but where does it appear in songs, and also a famous set of TV advertisements?
The best known panatella may well be the Hamlet brand, through the advertising campaigns by the by the Collett Dickenson Pearce agency in from 1996 to 1997, introducing a series of men in embarrassing or painful scenarios, soothed by the ‘happiness’ and comfort of smooth cigar. These varied from fairly innocent and straightforward stressed music teacher in 1966, to the funniest (Gregor Fisher as the balding man in the photo booth in 1986) to the overtly sexual (glow in the dark condoms, 1997). The music has been constant too – a jazz rendition of Bach's Air on the G String, played by Jacques Loussier and his trio. Here are those ads in full, and also the full, slim length of Loussier’s version played live:
One of the earliest popular songs using the word was in I'll See You in C.U.B.A, an Irving Berlin song sung by Jack Kaufman, and also the Irish tenor Bill Murray in 1920. It was a popular song during US prohibition, and long before Fidel Castro, where Cuba was seen as a lawless playground to go to drink freely and enjoy other pleasures in life:
I'm on my way to Cuba
There's where I'm going
Cuba, there's where I'll stay
Cuba, where wine is flowing
And where dark-eyed Stellas
Light their fella's panetellas
The song was also covered by Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra among others, and of course Nat King Cole:
As a contrasting example, here’s the jazzy, bluesy smokey, soulful voice of Shemeka Copeland associating the cigar with dubious charms of a man called Memphis:
Walked across the room
In a neon light
Dark pair of shades
Blocking out the night
Smoke ring blowing
White Owl Panatella
There wasn't a thing
That man couldn't sell you …
Can you pull out any panetellas in the form of song lyrics, or other cultural associations or examples. There’s no smoke without fire. Please share below.
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