Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: 1900s

Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)

Early recording by Edward M. Favor (1894).
Other popular recordings by Dinah Shore (1942), Charlie & His Orchestra (1942), Nat “King” Cole (1963).
Also recorded by IBM 1094 (1961), “HAL 9000” (1968), Katy Perry (2014).

From the wiki: “‘Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)’ was written in 1892 by Harry Dacre. The song is said to have been inspired by Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII (1841-1910). The song was first recorded and released by Dan W. Quinn in 1893. Edward M. Favor recorded a version in 1894 that still exists.

“In 1942, when Dinah Shore appeared on Eddie Cantor’s popular radio show, she performed a clever arrangement of the song. The Nazi-sponsored German propaganda swing band, Charlie & His Orchestra, also released a cover of the song in 1942, aimed at listeners in the UK and the US. Nat King Cole recorded a cover for his popular 1963 album Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy Days of Summer.

Melody of Love

First recorded by The Edison Symphony Orchestra (1903).
Hit versions by Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra (US #2 1955), David Carroll & His Orchestra (US #9 1955), The Four Aces (US #11 1955), Frank Sinatra (US #19 1955), The Ink Spots (UK #10 1955), Jim Reeves (B-side C&W #10 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Melody of Love’ was originally written by Hans Engelmann in 1903, with lyrics added in 1954 by Tom Glazer (‘On Top of Spaghetti‘). An instrumental version recorded by Billy Vaughn was the highest-charting version on the Billboard charts in 1955. Other charting versions in 1955 were by David Carroll, The Four Aces, Frank Sinatra, and, in the UK, The Ink Spots. Vaughn’s recording first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on December 1, 1954 and it lasted 27 weeks on the chart, peaking at #2.

Song of the Volga Boatman

First recorded (as “Ey, Ukhnem!”) by G.A. Kazachenko (1903).
Hit version Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (1938 |US#1 1941).

[Above performance recorded by Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin, in 1922.]

From the wiki: “The ‘Song of the Volga Boatmen’ (known in Russian as Эй, ухнем! [Ey, ukhnem!, ‘yo, heave-ho!’], after the refrain) is a well-known traditional Russian song collected by Mily Balakirev, leader of ‘The Five’ who attempted to keep Russian art clean from European influences, and first published in his book of folk songs in 1866 while also being dramatically depicted by painter Ilya Repin in 1873. First recorded in 1903, it was popularized by Feodor Chaliapin in the 1920s with his recorded rendition. Glenn Miller’s jazz arrangement took the song to #1 in the US charts in 1941.”

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.

Jingle Bells

First recorded (as “One Horse Open Sleigh”) by The Edison Male Quartette (1898).
Popular versions by The King Cole Trio (1938), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #5 1941), Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (1943), Primo Scala & The Keynotes (US #10 1948), Les Paul (US #10 1951), The Hysterics (UK #44 1981).

From the wiki: “James Lord Pierpont’s 1857 composition ‘Jingle Bells’ became one of the most performed and most recognizable secular holiday songs ever written, not only in the United States, but around the world. In recognition of this achievement, James Lord Pierpont was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Pierpont wrote it in the 1850s in Medford, Massachusetts as ;The One-horse Open Sleigh’ for the choir of the First Unitarian Church, where his father was pastor. The choir introduced the new song during a Thanksgiving Day service; there was not a single reference to Christmas in the original lyrics. But, due to the public’s enthusiasm, the performance was renewed during that same year’s Christmas celebration. In 1857 the song was copyrighted as ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’. Two years later it was first published as ‘Jingle Bells’ in Savannah, GA, where Pierpont’s brother, John, was pastor. His Unitarian Universalist Church is locally known as ‘The Jingle Bells Church’.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

First recorded by The Royal Military Band (1904).
Also recorded by The Edison Carol Singers (1905).
Popular versions by Nat “King” Cole (1963), Mannheim Steamroller (1984).

From the wiki: “‘God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen’, also known as ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, and ‘God Rest You Merry People All’, is an English traditional Christmas carol. It was published by William B. Sandys in 1833, although the author is unknown. Like so many early Christmas songs, the carol was written as a direct reaction to the church music of the 15th century. However, in the earliest known publication of the carol, on a c. 1760 broadsheet, it is described as a ‘new Christmas carol’, suggesting its origin is actually in the mid-18th century. It is referred to in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: ‘…at the first sound of ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!’, Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.'”

Adeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful)

First recorded by An Anonymous Bell Ringer (1899).
Popular versions by Associated Glee Clubs of America (1925), Bing Crosby (US #45 1960).

From the wiki: “‘Adeste Fideles’ is a Christmas carol which has been attributed to various authors. The English translation of ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ by the English Catholic priest Frederick Oakeley, written in 1841, is widespread in most English speaking countries. The 1925 recording by the Associated Glee Clubs of America was the first electrically-recorded disc recording to create a popular impact, and featured the largest choir (according to Columbia Records) popular music has ever known: some 4,800 voices. Bing Crosby also charted with a version of the traditional hymn, which peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1960.”

Silent Night

First recorded (as “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”) by Trompeter Quartett (1892).
First English-language recording by Edison Male Quartette (1905).
Popular versions by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra (US #6 1928), Bing Crosby (US #16 1941), The Ravens (R&B #8 1948), Simon & Garfunkel (as “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night”, 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Silent Night’ (German: ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011. ‘Stille Nacht’ was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village on the Salzach river. In 1859, the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, then serving at Trinity Church, New York City, published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.

Bring Back My Bonnie to Me

First recorded by Hayden Quartet (1901).
Hit versions by Alma Gluck & the Orpheus Quartet (US #10 1919), Vipers Skiffle Group (1955), Duane Eddy (as “Bonnie Come Back”, US #23/UK #12 1960), Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (as “My Bonnie”, GER #5 1961 |UK #48 1963 |US #26 1964), Bonnie Brooks (as “Bring Back My Beatles (to Me)”, 1964).

From the wiki: “In 1881, under the duo of pseudonyms H.J. Fuller and J.T. Wood, Charles E. Pratt published sheet music for ‘Bring Back My Bonnie to Me’. The first recording of the song was done in 1901 by the Hayden Quartet. Alma Gluck charted with her 1919 recording. In popular culture, the song is now best remembered for the 1961 recording by Tony Sheridan that brought The Beatles (recording as ‘The Beat Brothers’) to Brian Epstein’s attention in 1962, preceded by a Duane Eddy instrumental cover that had earlier charted in the UK and the US and an even earlier cover recorded by Vipers Skiffle Group (who also recorded ‘Maggie Mae‘ that The Beatles would cover on Abbey Road).

“Another Vipers-Beatles connection: Vipers Skiffle Group recordings were produced by George Martin who would go on to famously become the ‘fifth Beatle’ as the Beatle’s producer. ”

(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love

Recorded as (“Plaisir d’Amour”) by Emilio De Gogorza (1902).
Also recorded (as “Plaisir d’Amour”) by Joan Baez (1961).
Hit versions (in English) by Elvis Presley (US #2/UK #1 1961), Andy Williams (UK #3 1970), The Softones (R&B #53 1973), The Stylistics (R&B #52/UK #4 1976), UB40 (US #1/UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #1 1993).
Also recorded (as “I Want to Live”) by Aphrodite’s Child (NETH #1 1969).

Note: Not Emilio De Gogorza. This recording is by French cabaret tenor Tino Rossi, recorded in 1955:

From the wiki: “‘(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love’ was written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George Weiss (‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight‘, ‘What a Wonderful World’) based on a popular romance melody by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian, ‘Plaisir d’Amour’, first performed in 1784 and first recorded in 1902 by Emilio De Gogorza. English-language lyrics were written by Weiss, who claimed that neither the movie producers nor Elvis’ associates liked the song demo. But, nonetheless, Elvis insisted on recording the song for the movie Blue Hawaii.

American Patrol

First recorded by John Phillip Sousa’s Band (1901).
Hit version by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #15 1941).

From the wiki: “‘American Patrol’ is a popular march written by Frank White (F.W.) Meacham in 1885, incorporating both original musical themes by Meacham and melodies from American patriotic songs of the era such as ‘Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean’ and ‘Dixie’. Jerry Gray arranged a swing version of the march for Glenn Miller’s orchestra in 1941. The ‘patrol’ format was popular in the second half of the 19th century, and other compositions bear titles such as ‘Turkish Patrol’, ‘Ethiopian Patrol’, ‘Owl’s Patrol’, ‘Welsh Patrol’ and ‘Arab Patrol’. The format was intended to represent a military band approaching, passing, and fading into the distance.”

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