First recorded (as a demo) by George Jackson (1978).
Hit version by Bob Seger (US #28/CAN #31 1979 |US #48/AUS #53 1983 |AUS #3 1987 ).
From the wiki: “‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ was written by George Jackson (‘Victim of a Foolish Heart‘) and Thomas E. Jones III, and was first recorded as a demo by Jackson. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who often backed Seger in his studio recordings at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, sent Seger a demo of Jackson’s song during the recording of Stranger in Town. Jackson recalls ‘Bob had pretty much finished his recording at Muscle Shoals and he asked them if they had any other songs he could listen to for the future.’
“The song was recorded at the Muscle Shoals studio and also at Sound Suite Studios in Detroit, Michigan. Originally, Seger’s Silver Bullet Band was displeased with its inclusion on Stranger in Town, claiming, according to Seger, that the song was not ‘Silver Bullety’ enough. However, upon hearing audience reactions to it during their tour in Europe, the band grew to like the song. Released as a single in 1979, the song became a Top-40 hit, peaking at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Written and first recorded by Eric Carmen (DEN #7 1976).
Other hit version by Shaun Cassidy (US #3/CAN #1/AUS #2 1978).
From the wiki: “‘That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was written and first recorded by Eric Carmen in 1976. It later became a US Top-10 hit for teen idol Shaun Cassidy.
“Carmen released his version of ‘That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll’ in some nations as the third single from his first eponymous self-titled debut album, Eric Carmen. The single’s limited release did not include the United States. The song charted at #7 in Denmark. Parts of the song are autobiographical.
“‘That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was covered in 1977 by Shaun Cassidy on his first solo LP, Shaun Cassidy. The song was Cassidy’s second of three consecutive Top-10 hits in the US. Cassidy’s cover also topped the Canadian singles chart and nudged the top of the Australian singles chart.
“In 1988, ‘That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was featured as the B-side of a subsequent major hit by Carmen, ‘Make Me Lose Control’.”
First recorded (as “The Last Thing I Needed (The First Thing This Morning)”) by Bill & Bonnie Hearne (1976).
Hit version by Willie Nelson (C&W #2/CAN #1 1982).
Also recorded by Lost Gonzo Band (1976), Gary P. Nunn (1984).
From the wiki: “‘Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” was written by Gary P. Nunn (‘London Homesick Blues’ aka Austin City Limits theme song) and Donna Farar, and was first recorded in 1976 by then-Austin, TX, musicians Bill & Bonnie Hearne. Willie Nelson recorded the song in 1982 for his album Always On My Mind. ‘Last Thing I Needed …’ was released as the third single from the album, and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and #1 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.
First recorded (as a demo) by The Modern Lovers (recorded 1972, released 1976).
First released by John Cale (1975).
Also recorded by David Bowie (2003).
From the wiki: “‘Pablo Picasso’ was written by Jonathan Richman for his proto-punk group The Modern Lovers. The song was first recorded by the group in 1972, produced by former Velvet Underground member John Cale. However, the recording was not released until 1976, on The Modern Lovers’ self-titled debut album. In the meantime, Cale recorded a cover of ‘Pablo Picasso’ for his own album, Helen of Troy, released in 1975.
First recorded (as “Sentimental Reasons”) by Deek Watson & His Brown Dots (1945).
Hit versions by The King Cole Trio (US #1 1946), Eddy Howard & His Orchestra (US #6 1947), Dinah Shore (US #6 1947), Ella Fitzgerald & Delta Rhythm Boys (US #8 1947), Sam Cooke (US #17/R&B #5 1957), James Brown (R&B #70 1976).
Also recorded by Linda Ronstadt (1986), Rod Stewart (2004)
From the wiki: “‘(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons’ was written in 1945 by Ivory ‘Deek’ Watson, founding member of the Ink Spots, and William ‘Pat’ Best, founding member of the Four Tunes. The song was first recorded by The Brown Dots, a group Watson had first formed as the ‘New Ink Spots’ after he left the original group in a dispute. The original Ink Spots then filed a lawsuit to force Watson from using its name, resulting in Watson changing his ‘Ink Spots’ name, just barely, to ‘The Brown Dots’.
“The Brown Dots’ original recording of ‘Sentimental Reasons’ was first recorded and released in 1945 as the B-side of their second single, ‘Let’s Give Love Another Chance’. In 1946, it was released again – as an A-side – but it did not chart nationally.
First recorded by Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie (1929).
Hit album version by Led Zeppelin (1971).
From the wiki: “The blues song ‘When the Levee Breaks’ was written and first recorded by husband and wife Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929, in reaction to the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 that ravaged the state of Mississippi and surrounding areas. The flood destroyed tens of thousands of homes and devastated the agricultural economy of the whole Mississippi Basin, forcing people to flee to the cities of the Midwest in search of work and contributing to the ‘Great Migration’ of African Americans to the industrial North in the first half of the 20th century.
“The song was re-worked in 1971 by UK rock group Led Zeppelin, and released as the final track on Led Zeppelin IV. According to Led Zeppelin guitarist and producer Jimmy Page, the famous drum performance of John Bonham was a happy accident:
First recorded by The Fleetwoods (1964).
Hit version by Chad & Jeremy (US #17/MOR #4 1965).
From the wiki: “‘Before and After’ was written in 1964 by Van McCoy (‘Baby I’m Yours‘, ‘The Hustle’), then a staff writer for Columbia Record’s publishing arm April Blackwood Music. The song borrowed the concept of ‘before and after’ images then popular in advertising campaigns for weight loss products: the song’s narrator compares his image with that of the current beau of his ex-girlfriend: ‘He wears a smile, I wear a frown…See the difference between the old and new/ Before and after losing you.’
“‘Before and After’ was first recorded by The Fleetwoods (‘Come Softly to Me’) in late 1964, and released in January 1965 as the title track for their album Before and After. Released as a single in February 1965, it had no apparent chart impact. UK singing duo Chad & Jeremy released a cover in May 1965 as the group’s label debut for Columbia Records after leaving World Artist Records. Its chart impact muted by the concurrent release of other Chad & Jeremy singles by the duo’s previous label, peaking at #17 on Billboard Hot 100, and proved to be the duo’s fourth but final Top-40 hit.”
First recorded (as “I Wanna Go Home”) by Billy Grammar (C&W #18 1962).
Other hit versions by Bobby Bare (US #16/C&W #4/MOR #4 1963), Tom Jones (US #27/UK #8/IRE #4 1967).
Also recorded by Arthur Alexander (1965), co-writer Mel Tillis (1968), George Jones (2005).
From the wiki: “‘Detroit City’, a ‘citybilly’ lament about the struggles and loneliness of a rural Southerner migrating to industrial Detroit, was written by Danny Dill and Mel Tillis. It was first offered to singer George Jones, who turned it down (but who would later record it in 2005 for his album Hits I Missed … and One I Didn’t), and so was first recorded and made famous (as ‘I Wanna Go Home’) by Billy Grammer in 1962.
“In 1963, country singer Bobby Bare covered the song, releasing it as ‘Detroit City’, scoring a Top-5 hit on both the Country and MOR music charts, and making it the title track from Bare’s debut album ‘Detroit City’ and Other Hits. It would win for Bare a Grammy award for the Best Country & Western Recording in 1963.
First recorded by The Spades (1965).
Hit version by The 13th Floor Elevators (US #55 1966).
From the wiki: “‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, written by Roky Erickson, was released as The 13th Floor Elevator’s debut single on Contact Records, in January 1966. Previous to that, Erickson had recorded the song with his earlier group The Spades.
“After entertaining the idea of embarking on a music career as a country singer, Erickson shifted to emulating the vocalization of rock and roll musical artists he held in high-regard, including James Brown, Little Richard, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. However, perfecting his wails, and screams took a level of considerable difficulty, and required a degree of privacy for Erickson, who wanted to project an impression that he was naturally talented.
“On occasions when he rehearsed, Erickson worked in seclusion with only a few close friends. During these practice sessions Erickson, at age 15, composed both ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ and ‘We Sell Soul’. Both of the songs originally appeared in 1965 on a single released by Erickson and his group the Spades, gathering regional success and intrigue from contemporary musical acts. Among those impressed with Erickson were jug player Tommy Hall and lead guitarist Stacy Sutherland of another local band, the Lingsmen, who persuaded Erickson to join their ensemble, which soon became the 13th Floor Elevators.
First recorded by Charlie Gracie (US #1/R&B #10/UK #12 1957).
Other hit version by Andy Williams (US #1/R&B #14/UK #1 1957).
From the wiki: “‘Butterfly’ is a popular song written by Bernie Lowe and Kal Mann. The song is credited to Anthony September as songwriter in some sources – a pseudonym of Anthony Mammarella, producer of American Bandstand.
“The original recording of the song by Charlie Gracie reached #1 on the Billboard chart, #10 on the R&B chart and #12 on the UK Singles Chart in 1957. A cover version by Andy Williams (‘Moon River‘,’Happy Heart‘)also reached #1 on the Billboard chart in 1957 – his first chart-topping hit. Williams’ version also reached #1 the UK in May 1957, where it spent two weeks, and also reached #14 on the US R&B chart.
First recorded by Arthur Collins & Byron G. Harlan (US #1 1911).
Other hit versions by Billy Murray (US #1 1911), Prince’s Orchestra (US #3 1912), Bessie Smith (1927), The Boswell Sisters (1935), Louis Armstrong (1937), Bing Crosby & Connee Boswell (1938).
From the wiki: “‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ was written by Irving Berlin in 1911, one of his oldest compositions and his first major hit.
“It is believed by some (especially in New Orlean jazz and ragtime circles) that Berlin was writing about a real band and bandleader, which were popular at the time in New Orleans, and actually was known as Alexander’s Ragtime Band, after its leader, Alexander Joseph Watzke. Others regard the song as a sequel to ‘Alexander and His Clarinet’, which Berlin wrote with Ted Snyder in 1910 (and which was not a hit), with the newer composition telling the story of Jack Alexander, a cornet player and bandleader.
“‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ was first popularized in 1911 by Emma Carus, a big shouter from Chicago, who worked it into her local vaudeville act. (Her picture’s on the oldest sheet music edition.) The song was more widely introduced that same year by Eddie Miller and Helen Vincent performer in the Frolic of Berlin’s New York City ‘Friars Club’ chapter. In 1911-1912, no fewer than four of the first recordings of ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ charted nationally, including #1 hits by Arthur Collins & Byron Harlon, and Billy Murray.
“The 1927 Bessie Smith cover of ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ featured Coleman Hawkins on clarinet, Fletcher Henderson on piano, along with Joe Smith (cornet) Jimmy Harrison (trombone) and Charlie Dixon (banjo).”
First recorded by The Everly Brothers (US #8 1960).
Other hit versions by Johnny Young & Kompany (AUS #3 1967), Linda Ronstadt (US #2/C&W #1/CAN #1 1975).
Also recorded by John Denver (1966, released 2011), The Bunch (1972), Dave Edmunds & Keith Moon (1974), Tanya Tucker & Phil Everly (1975), Rockpile (1980), John Fogerty & Bruce Springsteen (2009).
From the wiki: “‘When Will I Be Loved’ was written by Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who had a US Top-10 hit with it in the summer of 1960. The track was recorded (with Chet Atkins also on guitar) while the duo were contracted to Cadence Records; by 1960 they had moved to Warner Brothers and recording songs in a more mainstream pop/rock style than previously. The belated release by Cadence of ‘When Will I Be Loved’ provided the Everly Brothers with a final rockabilly-style hit.
First recorded by Joe Venuti & His Orchestra (1933).
Hit versions by Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra (US #8 1934), Cab Calloway & His Cotton Club Orchestra (US #7 1934), Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (US #2 1934), Benny Goodman & His Orchestra (US #1 1934), The Benny Goodman Quartet (US #8 1936).
Also recorded by Ethel Waters (1934), Bing Crosby (1956), Sarah Vaughn (1962).
Also recorded (as “Moonglow & Theme from Picnic“) by George Cates (US #4 1956), Morris Stoloff (US #1 1956).
From the wiki: “‘Moonglow’ (also known as ‘Moonglow and Love’) was written in 1933 by by Will Hudson and Irving Mills with lyrics by Eddie DeLange. It was first recorded by Joe Venuti & His Orchestra in 1933, with subsequent recordings in the following year by the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Cab Calloway, Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra, Benny Goodman and his orchestra, Ethel Waters, and Art Tatum. The song has since become a jazz standard, performed and recorded numerous times by a wide array of musical talents.
“In the 1950s a medley of the song and George Duning’s ‘Theme from Picnic‘, orchestrated by Johnny Warrington, became quite popular, especially in instrumental recordings by Morris Stoloff, conductor of the film version by the Columbia Pictures Orchestra. Duning wrote the film’s theme to counterpoint ‘Moonglow’. Stoloff’s ‘Moonglow & Theme from Picnic‘ spent three weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
First recorded (as a demo) by Donald Fagen & Walter Becker with Flo & Eddie (1971).
Hit album version by Steely Dan (1975).
From the wiki: “This was the first song Steely Dan recorded, predating Steely Dan’s debut album Can’t Buy A Thrill. They first put it to tape in 1971 in a version with backing vocals by Flo and Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) of The Turtles.
“The song tells the story of a man who shows 8mm porn movies to young boys. With its lilting melody and catchy chorus, it’s easy to misinterpret the track as a playful kids’ song about going to the movies. At least one theater operator in the United States used the chorus of this song on the speakers prior to the coming attractions (without understanding the, uh, significance of the lyrics). ”
First recorded by Brad Kane & Lea Salonga (1992).
Hit version by Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle (US #1/UK #12 1992).
From the wiki: “‘Whole New World (Alladin’s Theme)’ is from Disney’s 1992 animated feature film Aladdin, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice. The original version was sung for the film by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga. They also performed the song in their characters at the 65th Academy Awards, where it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
“A single version of the song was released that year and was performed by American recording artists Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle. This version is played in the movie’s end credits and is referred on the soundtrack as ‘Aladdin’s Theme’. This version peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart on March 6, 1993. The track peaked at #12 in the UK Singles Chart in 1992. The song is the first and so far only song from a Disney animated film to top the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as being the first and so far only Disney song to win a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards.”
Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle, “Whole New World (Alladin’s Theme)” (1992):
First recorded by Linda Ronstadt (1989).
Hit album version by Glen Campbell (2017).
Also recorded by Jimmy Webb (1993).
From the wiki: “‘Adiós’ was written by hit songwriter Jimmy Webb (‘Up, Up and Away‘,’By the Time I Get to Phoenix‘), and was first recorded by Linda Ronstadt in 1989 for her album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. Webb recorded his own arrangement in 1993 for his album Suspending Disbelief.
“The song became more widely, and poignantly, known, in 2017 when Glen Campbell’s recording was released two months before his death in August, 2017, and also used as the title song of his final album, Adiós. Featuring twelve songs Campbell had long loved but never recorded, the album was made with the help of producer and longtime collaborator Carl Jackson. Singers Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Campbell’s children Ashley, Shannon and Cal also make guest appearances.
First recorded (as “Leilani”) by Sol Ho’opi’i & His Novelty Quartet (1935).
Hit version by Bing Crosby (US #1 1937).
Also recorded by Harry Owens & His Royal Hawaiians (1938), Andy Williams (1959), Sam Cooke (1960).
From the wiki: “Harry Owens wrote the song in 1934 for his just-born daughter, Leilani. The name has a figurative meaning: Small Hawaiian children were carried on their parents’ shoulders like a lei (garland), so the name took on the meaning ‘heavenly child’.
“‘Leilani’ was first recorded in Hawaii by Sol Ho’opi’i & His Novelty Quartet in 1935, as the B-side of the Brunswick Records’ 78-rpm ‘Hawaiian Honeymoon’. The song was famously featured in the 1937 motion picture, Waikiki Wedding, for which its Bing Crosby recording won the Academy Award for Best Original Song with Crosby’s recording going on to become one of the top hits of 1937. The song made another film appearance in the 1938 comedy Cocoanut Grove (set in Los Angeles; not Hawaii), starring Fred MacMurray, performed by the song’s composer Harry Owens & His Royal Hawaiians.
First performed by Lucille Ball & Paula Stewart (1960).
Popular versions by Peggy Lee (1963), Rosemary Clooney (1963), Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney (1963), Judy Garland (1963), Louis Armstrong (1964).
From the wiki: “‘Hey, Look Me Over’ was from the 1960 Broadway musical Wildcat, and was first performed by comedy actress Lucille Ball in what was the only Broadway appearance of her career.
First recorded (as “At the Darktown Strutters’ Ball”) by Six Brown Brothers (US #10 1917).
Other hit versions by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band (US #2 1917), The Jaudas’ Society Orchestra (US #9 1918), Ted Lewis and His Band (US #12 1927), Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers (R&B #7 1948), Lou Monte (US #7 1954), Joe Brown & the Bruvvers (UK #34 1959), Ted Mulry & His Gang (AUS 1976).
Also recorded by Coleman Hawkins (1933), Ella Fitzgerald (1936), Fats Waller (1939), Alberta Hunter (1978).
From the wiki: “‘Darktown Strutters’ Ball’ was written by Shelton Brooks. First published in 1917, the song has been recorded many times and is considered a Popular and Jazz standard. There are many variations of the title, including ‘At the Darktown Strutters’ Ball’, ‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’, and just ‘Strutters’ Ball’.
“The song was first performed in 1917 by Sophie Tucker in her Vaudeville routine. It was first recorded on May 9 that same year by the Six Brown Brothers, a comedic musical ensemble. The best-selling early recording by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band was recorded on May 30, 1917. It would be this version that was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2006.
First recorded (as a demo) by Franke & the Knockouts (1987, released 1998).
Hit version by Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley (US #1/MOR #1/UK #6 1987 |UK #8 1991).
From the wiki: “‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ was composed in late 1986 or early 1987 by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz. Previte, the ‘Franke’ of the group Franke & the Knockouts, had had solo success with the song ‘Sweetheart’ in 1981 but, by 1986, was without a recording contract. Producer and head of Millennium Records, Jimmy Ienner, asked Previte about writing some music for ‘a little movie called Dirty Dancing‘. Previte initially turned the request down because he was still trying to get a record deal, but Ienner was persistent, and got Previte to write several songs for the film, including ‘Hungry Eyes‘, later recorded by singer Eric Carmen.
“After getting further approval, Previte created a demo of the song, performing on it himself with singer Rachele Cappelli. The demo showcased how the harmonies were to be used, employing a ‘cold open’ and a slow build-up of the song to its finale.
First recorded by Roy Hamilton (R&B #8 1954).
Other hit versions by Timi Yuro (US #4/MOR #2/R&B #22 1961), Little Anthony & the Imperials (US #55 1966), Fausto Leali (as “A Chi” ITA #1 1967), Connie Cato (C&W #14 1975), The Manhattans (US #97/R&B #10/UK #4 1976), Elvis Presley (US #28/MOR #7/C&W #6/UK #37 1976), Juice Newton (C&W #1 1985).
Also recorded by Carly Simon (1981).
From the wiki: “‘Hurt’ was written by Jimmie Crane and Al Jacobs, and was first recorded by Roy Hamilton (‘Unchained Melody‘, ‘Don’t Let Go‘), whose version peaked at #8 on the R&B Best Seller chart and spent a total of seven weeks on the chart.
“The song is considered to be the signature hit of Timi Yuro, whose version went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. But, Juice Newton’s recording charted highest on any chart when it reached #1 on Billboard’s Country chart in 1985.
Written and first recorded by Nine Inch Nails (1994).
Hit version by Johnny Cash (C&W #56/ALT #33/UK #39 2002).
From the wiki: “‘Hurt’ was written by Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor for the group’s second studio album, The Downward Spiral (1994). The song received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song in 1996, but ultimately lost to Alanis Morissette’s ‘You Oughta Know’.
“In 2002, ‘Hurt’ was covered by Johnny Cash to commercial and critical acclaim; it was one of Cash’s final hits released before his death, and the related music video was considered one of the greatest of all time by publications such as NME. Reznor praised Cash’s interpretation of the song for its ‘sincerity and meaning’, going as far as to say ‘that song isn’t mine anymore.’ The line ‘crown of shit’ was changed by Cash to ‘crown of thorns’, not only removing profanity from the lyrics, but also more directly referencing Christ and Cash’s devout Christianity.
Written and first recorded by Leonard Cohen (1984).
Hit versions by k.d. lang (US #61/CAN #2 2004), Epsen Lind (NOR #1 2006), Rufus Wainwright (ROCK #34/UK #97 2007), Jeff Buckley (recorded 1994, released UK #65 2007 |US #102/UK #2 2008), Alexandra Burke (UK #1/IRE #1/EUR #1 2008), Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris (US #13/UK #91 2010), Pentatonix (US #23/GER #1/SWZ #7 2016).
Also recorded by John Cale (1991), Allison Crowe (2003).
From the wiki: “‘Hallelujah’ was written by Canadian poet-singer Leonard Cohen, and was originally released on his album Various Positions (1984). Achieving little initial success, the song found greater popular acclaim through a recording by John Cale, which inspired a recording by Jeff Buckley. It is considered as the ‘baseline’ of secular hymns. Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for “Hallelujah”, with one writing session at the Royalton Hotel in New York where he was reduced to sitting on the floor in his underwear, banging his head on the floor.
“His original version, as recorded on his Various Positions album, contains several biblical references, most notably evoking the stories of Samson and treacherous Delilah from the Book of Judges. Following his original 1984 studio-album version, Cohen performed the original song on his world tour in 1985, but live performances during his 1988 and 1993 tours almost invariably contained a quite different set of lyrics, with only the last verse being common to the two versions. Numerous singers mix lyrics from both versions, and occasionally make direct lyric changes; for example, in place of Cohen’s ‘holy dove’, Canadian-American singer Rufus Wainwright substituted ‘holy dark’, while Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe sang ‘Holy ghost’.
Written and first recorded (as “Funky Broadway Parts 1 & 2”) by Dyke & the Blazers (1966).
Hit version by Wilson Pickett (US #8/R&B #1/UK #43 1967).
From the wiki: “‘Funky Broadway’ was written by Arlester ‘Dyke’ Christian, and was originally recorded by his band, Dyke & the Blazers, in 1967. The song became a hit later same year when recorded by Wilson Pickett in a session at Muscle Shoals produced by Jerry Wexler.The song is notable as being the first charted single with the word ‘Funky’ in the title as well as being prototypical funk music itself.
“The ‘Broadway’ referred to in the title of the original is the Broadway Road (now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) in Phoenix, Arizona, that was at the center of the culture and entertainment of the area’s African American community, and which was ‘Dyke’ Christian’s hometown at the time.”
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