Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Auld Lang Syne

First recorded by Emile Berliner (1898).
Popular version by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (1939).

From the wiki: “Robert Burns sent a copy of the original song to the Scots Musical Museum (in 1788) with the remark, ‘The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.’ In 1855, different words were written for the Auld Lang Syne tune by Albert Laighton and titled, “Song of the Old Folks.” This song was included in the songbook, Father Kemp’s Old Folks Concert Tunes, published in Boston, Massachusetts in 1860. For many years it was the tradition of the Stoughton Musical Society to sing this version in memory of those who had died that year. Now, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is traditionally sung at the conclusion of New Year gatherings in Scotland and around the world, especially in English-speaking countries.

“Emile Berliner was one of the most important inventors of the modern-day phonograph, and was also the first person to record and sell recordings. In 1886 Berliner began experimenting with methods of sound recording. He was granted his first patent for what he called the ‘Gramophone’ in 1887. Berliner opted for the disc format, which made the photoengraving step much less difficult and offered the prospect of making multiple copies. The difficulty in using early hand-driven Gramophones was getting the turntable to rotate at an acceptably steady speed while playing a disc. Engineer Eldridge R. Johnson, the owner of a small machine shop in Camden, New Jersey, assisted Berliner in developing a suitable low-cost wind-up spring motor for the Gramophone and became Berliner’s manufacturer.

“The popularity of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as the New Year’s Eve tune can be attributed to Guy Lombardo. Lombardo and his band, His Royal Canadians, performed “Auld Lang Syne” anually on New Year’s Eve for decades until his death in 1977, helping to popularize it in the United States. He started the tradition of playing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at the stroke of midnight in 1930 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. His version continues to be played in Times Square every New Years immediately following the dropping of the ball.”

Guy Lombardo, “Auld Lang Syne” (1939):

Guy Lombardo, “Auld Lang Syne” final New Years Eve broadcast (1976):

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