Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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1138 total songs ... and counting!

Baby I’m Yours

First recorded (as a demo) by Van McCoy (1965).
Hit versions by Barbara Lewis (US #11/R&B #5 1965), Peter & Gordon (UK #19 1965), Jody Miller (C&W #5 1971), Linda Lewis (UK #33 1976).
Also recorded by The Paramounts (1965, released 1988), Cher (1990).

From the wiki: “Barbara Lewis has stated that Van McCoy wrote ‘Baby I’m Yours’ specifically for her. But, that when she first heard the demo she disliked the song. (She has suggested that she was actually daunted by the high quality of the vocal, by McCoy himself, on the demo, and at the original session recalled ‘I didn’t really put 100% into my vocal performance’ hoping that Atlantic would shelve the track as sub-par.)

“‘[Producer] Ollie [McLaughlin] told me ‘Barbara, we’re gonna have to go back to Detroit and dub you in. We gotta do your vocals over. You’re just not giving like you should on the song.’ We did several takes [in Detroit] and he was wondering ‘How am I going to get this girl to give? She’s so hard-headed.’ He said ‘You know, Barbara, Karen can sing that song better than you.’ That was his little daughter. And it pissed me off. I did one more take, and that was the take that they selected.’

“The first UK recording of ‘Baby I’m Yours’ was made by the Paramounts at Abbey Road Studios in the summer of 1965, but the track went unreleased until their 1998 compilation release The Paramounts at Abbey Road 1963 to 1970. A higher-profile act – also on the Columbia [UK] roster – Peter & Gordon, did have a UK hit version of the song, released October 15, 1965, which reached #19 in the UK. The release is unique among Peter & Gordon singles. In deference to the US success of the Barbara Lewis version, Capitol Records (Peter and Gordon’s US label of release) chose not issue the duo’s cover in the American market. ‘Baby I’m Yours’ would be the first Peter & Gordon single not be released concurrently in the UK and the US.

“Cher covered ‘Baby I’m Yours’ for the soundtrack of her 1990 film Mermaids, arranged to replicate Barbara Lewis’ hit, and produced by Peter Asher (the ‘Peter’ of Peter & Gordon fame). Even though the song was not featured in the film but was selected as the lead single from the soundtrack for release in the UK and Europe after the US single release ‘The Shoop Shoop Song’ — which as remade by Cher had played under the film’s closing credits — fell short of the Billboard Top-30. It failed there as a single.”

Barbara Lewis, “Baby I’m Yours” (1965):

The Paramounts, “Baby I’m Yours” (1965):

Peter & Gordon, “Baby I’m Yours” (1965):

Jody Miller, “Baby I’m Yours” (1971):

Linda Lewis, “Baby I’m Yours” (1976):

Cher, “Baby I’m Yours” (1990):

Victim of a Foolish Heart

First recorded by George Jackson (recorded 1972, released 2012).
Hit version by Bettye Swann (US #63/R&B #16 1972).
Also recorded by Joss Stone (2003).

From the wiki: “George Jackson was the in-house songwriter for Rick Hall’s ‘Fame Records’ in Muscle Shoals from 1968 well into the 1970s, and wrote hits for Candi Staton, Wilson Pickett and Clarence Carter, among others. He was also a great performer, but his demand as a songwriter kept his recording career very much in the background.

“In 1972, Jackson recorded ‘Victim of A Foolish Heart’ which is thought to have been recorded as a follow-up to George’s two previous Fame singles. But, his recording was shelved in favor of Bettye Swann’s version, which was released on Atlantic with some chart success. ‘Victim of a Foolish Heart’ would later be covered by Joss Stone, in 2003, on her multi million-selling Soul Sessions album.”

My Way

Co-written and first recorded (as “Comme d’habitude”) by Claude François (1967).
Hit English-language versions by Frank Sinatra (US #27/MOR #2 1969), Dorothy Squires (UK #25 1970), Elvis Presley (US #22/MOR #6/UK #9 1977 |C&W #2 1978).
Also recorded by Paul Anka (1969).

From the wiki: “‘My Way’ was popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra. Its lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song ‘Comme d’habitude’ (‘As Usual’) co-written by Claude François, and first performed in 1967 by François.

“Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. He had heard the original 1967 French pop song by François while on holiday in the south of France. Anka flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song, acquiring adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere nominal, but formal, consideration of one dollar, subject to the provision that the melody’s composers would retain their original share of royalty rights with respect to whatever versions Anka or his designates created or produced.

“Some time later, Anka had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra during which Sinatra said ‘I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it; I’m getting the hell out.’ Back in New York, Anka re-wrote the original French song for Sinatra, subtly altering the melodic structure and changing the lyrics.

Uncle Pen

Written and first recorded by Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys (1950).
Also recorded by Manassas (1971, released 2009), Goose Creek Symphony (1971), Michael Nesmith (1973), Phish (1997)
Hit versions by Porter Wagoner (C&W #14 1956), Ricky Skaggs (C&W #1/CAN #1 1984).

From the wiki: “James Pendleton Vandiver was a Kentucky fiddler, born there shortly after the American Civil War. He was uncle to Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, who immortalized him in a song, ‘Uncle Pen’, first recording in 1950.

“Monroe’s parents had both died by the time he was 16, and he lived part of the time with his Uncle Pen. Monroe used to hear his uncle playing fiddle on the hilltop where he lived, while Monroe put away his mules at night. He later said that Vandiver was ‘the fellow that I learned how to play from.’ Bill Monroe’s biographer, Richard D. Smith writes, ‘Pen gave Bill more: a repertoire of tunes that sank into Bill’s aurally-trained memory and a sense of rhythm that seeped into his bones. Sometimes Bill played guitar behind his uncle, sometimes the mandolin.’

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

First recorded (as “Lonesome Fiddle Blues”) by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1972).
Hit version by The Charlie Daniels Band (US #3/C&W #1 1979).
Also recorded by Old and in the The Way (recorded 1973, released 1975), Vassar Clements (1975).

From the wiki: “‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ was written by the Charlie Daniels Band, and was based on a song Bluegrass fiddler Vassar Clements originally wrote, an octave lower, titled ‘Lonesome Fiddle Blues’ that Clements first recorded in 1972 with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for the album Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

“In 1973, Clements joined and toured with the Bluegrass supergroup Old and in the Way with Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Peter Rowan. The group recorded ‘Lonesome Fiddle Blues’ in 1973 but it would not be released until February 1975. Clements also recorded a version in 1975 for his self-titled solo album on which Charlie Daniels played guitar.”

Havana Moon

Written and first recorded by Chuck Berry (B-side 1956).
Hit album version by Santana (1983).

From the wiki: “‘Havana Moon’ was written and first recorded by Chuck Berry in 1956, and released as the B-side to the single ‘You Can’t Catch Me‘. According to Rolling Stone magazine:

Berry’s story of a Cuban woman missing an American woman came from playing Nat King Cole’s “Calypso Blues” when Berry was still slugging it out at St. Louis’ Cosmopolitan Club at a time when Latin rhythms were popular. He decided to write his own song after a gigging in New York City, where he met Cubans for the first time. “It is the differences in people that I think gives me a tremendous imagination to create a story for developing a lyric,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I had read, seen or heard in some respect all the situations in the Havana story. Certainly, missing the boat and surely missing the girl had been experienced many times by me.” The Rolling Stones recently paid tribute to the song by naming a concert film, shot in Cuba, after the song.

Pass Me By

First performed by Digby Wolfe (1964).
Also recorded by Frank Sinatra (1964).
Popular version by Peggy Lee (US #93/MOR #19 1965).

(Above): Opening credits clip from ‘Father Goose’.

From the wiki: “‘Pass Me By’ was composed by Cy Coleman with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh for the 1964 romantic comedy film Father Goose, set in World War II, starring Cary Grant. The film would go on to win an Academy Award for its screenplay. Although ignored by Oscar, the film’s theme song, ‘Pass Me By’, would later become a hit for his collaborator, Peggy Lee. Coleman has said that he based the song’s tempo on Grant’s jaunty walk in the movie.

Hit the Road, Jack

First recorded (as a demo) by Percy Mayfield (1960).
Hit version by Ray Charles (US #1/R&B #1/UK #6 1961).

From the wiki: “‘Hit the Road Jack’ was written by R&B artist Percy Mayfield and was first recorded by Mayfield in 1960 as an a cappella demo sent to producer and Specialty Records owner Art Rupe. It became famous after it was recorded by Ray Charles, with an arrangement featuring Raelettes’ vocalist Margie Hendrix.”

Theme of Exodus

First performed by Ernest Gold (1960).
Hit versions by Pat Boone (US #64 1960), Ferrante & Teicher (US #2 1960).
Also recorded by Eddie Harris (1961), Skatalites (1967).

From the wiki: “The soundtrack for Exodus, including ‘Theme of Exodus’ was written by Ernest Gold, born in Austria and Pop songwriter Andrew Gold’s father, and was recorded with the Sinfonia of London for the 1960 film directed by Otto Preminger. In 1961, Gold’s ‘Exodus’ was nominated for a Golden Globe under the Best Original Score category. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Score and a Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album. For his contributions, Gold had his name engraved in the Hollywood Walk of Fame – the first composer to receive this honor.

“The main theme from the film (‘Theme of Exodus’) was been widely recorded and covered by many artists such as Ferrante and Teicher, whose version went #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. Pat Boone wrote lyrics to Gold’s instrumental and released his recording, titled ‘Exodus Song (This Land is Mine)’, in 1960. Jazz saxophonist covered the song in 1961; Jamaican ska band, Skatalites, recorded a reggae version of the song in 1967.”

Let Me Be

Written and first recorded by P.F. Sloan (1965).
Hit version by The Turtles (US #29 1965).

From ReBeatMag: “‘Let Me Be’ was written and recorded by P.F. Sloan, very successful in the mid-1960s, writing, performing, and producing Billboard Top-20 hits for artists such as Barry McGuire, The Searchers, Jan & Dean, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, The Grass Roots, The Mamas & the Papas, and The Turtles. His most successful songs as a writer were three top ten hits. Barry McGuire’s 1965 ‘Eve of Destruction‘, Johnny Rivers’ 1966 ‘Secret Agent Man’ and Herman’s Hermits’ 1966 ‘A Must to Avoid’.

“‘Let Me Be’ was The Turtles’ second single. It didn’t come close to achieving the success of its predecessor, the cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe‘. But, it did establish a working relationship between P.F. Sloan and The Turtles. More importantly, the song’s lyrics illustrated the independent, free-thinking spirit of both its composer and its audience, and though, in the big picture, the Turtles weren’t really ‘that kind’ of a band, their energetic and expressive take on the song is what makes it still fresh and relatable today.”

When the Saints Go Marching In

First recorded by The Paramount Jubilee Singers (1923).
Hit versions by Louis Armstrong (US #10 1939), The Weavers (US #27 1951), Percy Faith & His Singers (US #29 1951), Fats Domino (US #50 1959).
Also recorded (as “The Saints Rock ‘n Roll”) by Bill Haley & His Comets (US #18/UK #5 1956), The Million Dollar Quartet (1956), Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers (1961).

From the wiki: “‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, often referred to as ‘The Saints’, is an American gospel hymn. According to jazz critic Al Rose this tune was first published as a Baptist hymn in 1916 and credited to Edward Boatner, the man behind religious-classic ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’. Though it originated as a Christian hymn, it is often played by jazz bands. This song was famously recorded on May 13, 1938 by Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra.

“The first known recorded version was in 1923 by the Paramount Jubilee Singers on Paramount 12073. Although the title given on the label is ‘When All the Saints Come Marching In’, the group sings the modern lyrics beginning with “When the saints go marching in”. No author is shown on the label. The earliest versions were slow and stately, but as time passed the recordings became more rhythmic. Louis Armstrong was one of the first to make the tune into a nationally known Pop tune in the 1930s. (Armstrong wrote that his sister told him she thought the secular performance style of the traditional church tune was inappropriate and irreligious.)

Ain’t She Sweet

First recorded by Eddie Cantor (1926).
Hit versions by Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (US #1 1927), Johnny Marvin (US #14 1927), Gene Austin (US #4 1927), Mr. Ford & Mr. Goon-Bones (US #14 1947), The Beatles (recording as “The Beat Brothers”, 1961 |US #19/UK #29 1964).
Also recorded by Gene Vincent (1956), Duffy Power (1959).

From the wiki: “‘Ain’t She Sweet’ was composed by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics). Ager wrote the song for his daughter Shana Ager, who in her adult life was known as the political commentator Shana Alexander. ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ became popular in the first half of the 20th century as one of the hit songs that typified the Roaring Twenties. Like ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ (1929), it became a Tin Pan Alley standard. Both Ager and Yellen were later elected to membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Space Oddity

First recorded by David Bowie & John Hutchinson (1969).
Hit version by David Bowie (US #124/UK #5 1969 |US #15/CAN #16 1973 |UK #1 1975).
Also re-recorded by David Bowie (1979).

From the wiki: “‘Space Oddity’ was written by David Bowie. Three primary studio recordings of the song exist: an early version recorded in February 1969, the album version recorded that June (edited for release as a single), and a 1979 re-recording. The earliest version of ‘Space Oddity’ was recorded on 2 February 1969 by Bowie and John Hutchinson for Bowie’s promotional film Love You Till Tuesday. (Bowie and Hutchinson were the remaining members of the trio Feathers after the departure of Hermione Farthingale.) John was ‘Ground Control’, David was ‘Major Tom’.

Take It Easy

First recorded (as a demo) by Jackson Browne & Glenn Frey (1972).
Hit version by The Eagles (US #12 1972).
Also recorded by Jackson Browne (1973).

From the wiki: “Jackson Browne originally began writing ‘Take It Easy’ in 1971 for his own eponymous debut album but was having difficulty finishing the song. His friend and then-neighbor Glenn Frey had heard an early version and later asked Browne about it. Browne then played the unfinished second verse that begins with ‘Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona…’, and Frey finished the verse with ‘It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.’ Browne was very happy with the result and suggested that they co-write the song.

O Tannenbaum

Earliest known recording by The Nebe Quartett (1907).
Other popular recordings by Nat “King” Cole (1960), Vince Guaraldi Trio (1965), They Might Be Giants (1992).

From the wiki: “‘O Tannebaum’ is a German Christmas song. A ‘Tannenbaum’ is a fir tree. Based on a traditional folk song, it became associated with the traditional Christmas tree by the early 20th century and sung as a Christmas carol. The modern lyrics were written in 1824, by the Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz, but do not actually refer to Christmas or describe a decorated Christmas tree. Instead, they refer to the fir’s evergreen qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.”

Winter Wonderland

First recorded by Richard Himber & His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Guy Lomabardo’s Royal Canadians (US #2 1934), Ted Weems & His Orchestra (US #13 1934), Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers (US #4 1946), Perry Como & the Satisfiers (US #10 1946), Johnny Mathis (UK #17 1958), Darlene Love (1963), Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #27 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Winter Wonderland’, a winter song, is popularly regarded as a Christmas song even though the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. It was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith had written the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis.

“The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. This ‘studio’ orchestra included many great New York studio musicians including the legendary Artie Shaw. The biggest chart hit at the time of introduction was Guy Lombardo’s orchestra, a Top-10 hit. Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer took the song to #4 in Billboard’s airplay chart in 1946. The same season, Perry Como hit the retail top ten. (Como would also record a new version for his 1959 Christmas album, Season’s Greetings.)

“Through the decades it has been recorded by over 200 different artists, among them Johnny Mathis (1958), Darlene Love (1963), and The Ramsey Lewis Trio (1966).”

Tell the Truth

First released (as a single) by Derek and the Dominos (1970).
Hit album version re-recorded by Derek and the Dominos (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Tell the Truth’ was composed primarily by keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, with guitarist Eric Clapton adding the last verse.

“The original version of ‘Tell the Truth’ was recorded in London during the sessions for George Harrison’s 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. The session marked the first recordings by Derek and the Dominos. Produced by Phil Spector, this original, faster version of the song featured guitar contributions from Harrison and Dave Mason. It was issued as Derek and the Dominos’ debut single, in September 1970, although the band had the release withdrawn. Four days before the session, Derek and the Dominos, with Dave Mason as second guitarist, had played ‘Tell the Truth’ at their debut concert, held at London’s Lyceum Ballroom.

“In August 1970, while recording their album Layla at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, with producer Tom Dowd, the band decided to remake ‘Tell the Truth’.


First performed by The Story Clovers (1966).
First released by Judy Collins (1966).
Hit versions by Noel Harrison (US #56 1967), Herman van Veen (NETH #4 1969).
Also recorded by Leonard Cohen (1967).

From the wiki: “‘Suzanne’, written by Canadian poet Leonard Cohen, first appeared as the poem ‘Suzanne Takes You Down’ in Cohen’s 1966 book of poetry, Parasites of Heaven. As a song, it was first performed by The Stormy Clovers in 1966 and then recorded by Judy Collins, appearing on her 1966 album In My Life. It was later released by Cohen on his own debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (backed by The Stormy Clovers).

“In 1967, Noel Harrison’s version — the second released cover of the song — entered at #125 on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart in late September 1967, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #86 on October 28, peaking at #56 on November 25, 1967. (Cohen’s version would be released in December 1967.)

“In 1969, Herman van Veen’s Dutch-language version entered the Dutch Top 40 list in April 1969, peaking at #4 in May.”


First recorded by Howlin’ Wolf (1960).
Based on “Spoonful Blues” by Charley Patton (1929).
Hit versions by Etta & Harvey (US #78/R&B #12 1961), Cream (1966).
Also recorded by The Blues Project (1966), Koko Taylor (1978).

From the wiki: “The blues song ‘Spoonful’ was written by Willie Dixon, and loosely based on ‘Spoonful Blues’, recorded in 1929 by Charley Patton. ‘Spoonful’ was first recorded in 1960 by Howlin’ Wolf. Backing Wolf on vocals are longtime accompanist Hubert Sumlin on guitar, relative newcomer Freddie Robinson on second guitar, and Chess recording veterans Otis Spann on piano, Fred Below on drums, and Dixon on double-bass. ‘Spoonful’ would go on to become one of Dixon’s best-known and most-interpreted songs.

“Etta James had a Pop and R&B record chart hit with ‘Spoonful’ in 1961, in duet with Harvey Farqua (who would go on to become head of A&R at Motown Records). ‘Spoonful’ would become more popularized in the late 1960s when recorded by the British rock group Cream who produced a cover of ‘Spoonful’ for their 1966 UK debut album, Fresh Cream.

Eve of Destruction

Written and first recorded by P.F. Sloan (1965).
Hit versions by The Turtles (1965 |US #100 1970), Barry McGuire (US #1/NOR #1 1965)
Also recorded by Jan & Dean (1965).

From the wiki: “‘Eve of Destruction’ was written by P. F. Sloan in mid-1964. Sloan was very successful during the mid-1960s, writing, performing, and producing Billboard top 20 hits for artists such as Barry McGuire, The Searchers, Jan & Dean, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, The Grass Roots, The Turtles, and The Mamas & the Papas. He was also a session guitarist in the group of L.A. session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, working with such well-known backing musicians as drummer Hal Blaine, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, bassist Joe Osborn, and bassist/keyboardist Larry Knechtel, among others. It was while working with Barry McGuire that Sloan created and played a guitar introduction as a hook to a new song by John Phillips entitled ‘California Dreamin”, and the same backing track was used for the hit version by Phillips’ group The Mamas & the Papas, which led to Sloan becoming a regular in their recording sessions.

Hurt So Bad

First recorded by Little Anthony & the Imperials (US #10/R&B #5 1964).
Other hit versions by The Letterman (US #12/MOR #2/CAN #14 1969), Philly Devotions (Dance #10 1976), Linda Ronstadt (US #8/MOR #25/CAN #27 1980).
Also recorded by Willie Bobo (1965), El Chicano (1970), Bobby Hart, co-writer (1979).

From the wiki: “‘Hurt So Bad’ was written especially for Little Anthony & the Imperials by Teddy Randazzo, Bobby Weinstein, and Bobby Hart. It was the follow-up to the hit single ‘Goin’ Out of My Head’ and, like that single, became a Billboard Top-10 hit as well as a Top Five R&B hit.

“After writing ‘Come A Little Bit Closer’ with Tommy Boyce for Jay & the Americans, Bobby Hart signed with DCP Records and sang background when Randazzo performed in Las Vegas. When label head Don Costa asked for another hit for Little Anthony, Hart, Randazzo and Weinstein went to a conference room between sets and came up with “Hurt So Bad,” a song about a man who feels intense pain when he sees his former love.

“Hart went on to tremendous songwriting success with Tommy Boyce, coming up with many hit songs for The Monkees. Hart considers ‘Hurt So Bad’ his crowning achievement as a songwriter, although he knows that he’ll always be remembered for his hits with The Monkees (‘Last Train to Clarksville’, ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping’ Stone‘).

“Covers included Willie Bobo’s Latin-flavored 1965 instrumental album version, released on Spanish Grease. The Lettermen scored a Top-20 hit in 1969 with their cover. El Chicano released a cover of ‘Hurt So Bad’ on their 1970 debut album, Viva Tirado. The group Philly Devotions charted Top-10 on the US Dance/Disco chart in 1976. Co-writer Bobby Hart covered of his own song in 1979 for The First Bobby Hart Solo Album.

“Linda Ronstadt covered ‘Hurt So Bad’ for her Platinum-certified album, Mad Love, in 1980. Produced by Peter Asher on Asylum Records, it was released as the disc’s second single. Linda’s version of the song featured a scorching guitar solo by Danny Kortchmar, and it remains the most successful version ever recorded of the song – peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1980.”

Sue Me, Sue You Blues

First recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1971).
First commercial release by Jesse Ed Davis (1972).
Hit album version by George Harrison (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Sue Me, Sue You Blues’ was written by George Harrison. Harrison let American guitarist Jesse Ed Davis record it first for release, for the latter’s Ululu album (1972) in gratitude to Davis for his participation in the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’. Harrison had drawn inspiration for the song from the legal issues surrounding the Beatles break-up during the early months of 1971, particularly the lawsuit that Paul McCartney initiated in an effort to dissolve the band’s business partnership, Apple Corps.

“Harrison recorded a brief demo of ‘Sue Me, Sue You Blues’, in the Delta blues style, which became available in the 1990s on bootleg compilations such as Pirate Songs. Harrison biographer Simon Leng describes this 1971 recording as ‘astonishing’ and a ‘must’ for inclusion on any forthcoming George Harrison anthology, with Harrison sounding like ‘a lost bluesman, bootlegged in Chicago.’

It’s Getting Better

First recorded by The Vogues (1968).
Also recorded by Leonard Nimoy (1968), Pierre Lalonde (1968), The Will-O-Bees (1969).
Hit version by “Mama” Cass Elliot (US #30/MOR #13/UK #8 1969).

From the wiki: “‘It’s Getting Better’ was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (‘Make Your Own Kind of Music‘,’Never Gonna Let You Go‘, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place‘). The earliest evident recording of ‘It’s Getting Better’ was by the Vogues for their August 1968 album release Turn Around, Look at Me for Reprise Records. Also in 1968, the song was featured on the Leonard Nimoy album The Way I Feel released that October. The first evident single release of ‘It’s Getting Better’ was by French-Canadian singer, Pierre Lalonde, in September 1968.

“The folk-rock group, The Will-O-Bees, released ‘It’s Getting Better’ as a single in early 1969 but it failed to chart. (The group had also been among the first to record ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music‘, in 1968, previous to Cass Elliot’s hit recording.)

“‘It’s Getting Better’ was recorded by Cass Elliot for inclusion on her June 1969 album release Bubblegum, Lemonade, and … Something for Mama. The Wrecking Crew (James Burton on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and Joe Osborn on bass) — who’d regularly backed The Mamas & the Papas — were among the instrumentalists on the album. The song peaked at #30 in August 1969 during what was then considered an unusually lengthy 19-week run on Billboard’s Hot 100. Only five other 1969 releases had longer chart runs on the Hot 100. Elliot’s ‘It’s Getting Better’ had a more pronounced chart impact in the UK, reaching #8 in October 1969.”

(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover

First recorded by The Bunny Berigan Orchestra (1941).
Hit versions Kay Kyser & His Orchestra (US #1 1941), by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #6 1942), Vera Lynn (1942), The Checkers (1952), The Righteous Brothers (UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “So ‘British’ was its diction, imagery and tone, many Americans thought ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover’ was written by an Englishman. Instead, it was composed in 1941 by a couple of Americans, Walter Kent (allegedly based on ‘Over the Rainbow‘) with lyrics by Nat Burton, inspired by an American poem written by Alice Duer Miller and Walter Kent titled ‘The White Cliffs’.

“First introduced on the radio by Kate Smith, the first recorded release of the song was by the Bunny Berigan Orchestra in late 1941. Kay Kyser & His Orchestra topped the Hit Parade with their recording, while Glenn Miller’s recording also charted in the Top-10. There was, for a time in early 1942, fourteen different recordings of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ vying for public attention. But, the most-famous arrangement was recorded in England by Vera Lynn in 1942, with Mantovani’s orchestra, for Decca Records, becoming one of Lynn’s best-loved recordings and among the most popular World War II tunes, serving to uplift civilian morale at a time when Great Britain ‘stood alone’ against Nazi Germany.

“Symbolically, the White Cliffs of Dover are a guardian and protector of the English, a symbol of England’s strength against potential enemies and a reassuring sight to returning travelers. The lyrics refer to the RAF and RCAF fighter pilots (in their blue uniforms) as ‘bluebirds’ (although bluebirds are not native to Europe, and are not migratory) and expresses confidence that they would prevail. Notable phrases include ‘Thumbs Up!’, which was an RAF and RCAF term for permission to go, and ‘flying in those angry skies’ where the air war between Great Britain and Germany was taking place. The lyrics also looked towards a time when the war would be over and peace would rule over the iconic white cliffs of Dover, Britain’s symbolic border with the European mainland.

“The Checkers’ 1953 R&B treatment of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ was a Top-5 hit in Los Angeles but did not chart nationally. In 1966 the Righteous Brothers reached #21 in the UK with their cover version of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’.”

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