Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: 1960s

Funky Broadway, Part 1

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.”

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.’

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.

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.

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.”

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’.

Suzanne

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.”

Spoonful

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.”

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.”

I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself

First recorded by Chuck Jackson (1962).
First released by Tommy Hunt (1962).
Hit versions by Dusty Springfield (UK #3/AUS #16/NETH #5 1964), Dionne Warwick (US #26/R&B #20 1966).

From the wiki: “‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself’ was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and was first recorded by by Chuck Jackson (‘Any Day Now‘) in 1962 in a session produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, with Burt Bacharach arranging and conducting. Jackson’s version was shelved and remained unreleased until it appeared on a 1984 compilation titled Mr. Emotion. The same backing track and Bacharach arrangement was then used later the same year when Tommy Hunt (‘Any Day Now‘) covered the song. Hunt’s version was released as single in May 1962, but it did not chart.

“Dusty Springfield recorded ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself’ in 1964 following an overnight trip to New York City where she met up with Bacharach. (Springfield would record a number of Bacharach-David songs, including ‘Wishin’ and Hopin‘.) The third UK single release of Springfield’s solo career, ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself’ was Springfield’s first UK single release to display her signature vocal style; rising to #3 in the summer of 1964. A concurrent US release of the song was preempted by the presence of Springfield’s ‘Wishin’ and Hopin” in the US Top-10 over the summer of 1964. Springfield’s ‘I Just Don’t Know…’ received a belated US release in October 1965 but did not chart in the US.

“Dionne Warwick recorded ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself’ at Bell Sound Studios in August 1966 with Burt Bacharach producing, charting US Top-30 and R&B Top-20.”

That’s Life

First recorded by Marian Montgomery (1964).
Also recorded by O.C. Smith (1964).
Hit version by Frank Sinatra (US #4/MOR #1/R&B #25/UK #44 1966).

From the wiki: “‘That’s Life’ was written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon, and was first recorded in 1964 by Marion Montgomery. The most famous version is by Frank Sinatra, released on his 1966 album of the same name. Sinatra recorded the song after hearing an earlier cover of it by O.C. Smith (who recorded his version shortly after leaving Count Basie’s orchestra).”

Honey (I Miss You)

First recorded by Bob Shane (1968).
Hit version by Bobby Goldsboro (US #1/C&W #1/UK #2/AUS #1 1968 |UK #2 1975).

From the wiki: “‘Honey’, also known as ‘Honey (I Miss You)’, was written by Bobby Russell who first produced it with former Kingston Trio member Bob Shane. Then Russell gave it to singer Bobby Goldsboro, who recorded it for his 1968 album of the same name (but originally titled Pledge of Love). Goldsboro’s version was released as a single in the U.S. and spent five weeks at #1 the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart, from April 7 to May 11.

“The Hot 100 Top-10 run of ‘Honey’ began the week of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination (and first hit #1 the week after King’s death) and ended the week of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. No other Hot 100 entry had a top 10 run that spanned that same time interval. ‘Honey’ reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart and a re-release of the single in the United Kingdom in 1975 also reached #2.

“The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the song frequently appears on ‘worst songs of all-time’ lists and, in April 2006, Todd Leopold of CNN named it the ‘Worst Song of All Time.’ In the 1970s. when UK radio DJ Tony Blackburn was going through his divorce with his wife, Tessa Wyatt, which left him inconsolable and sobbing on air, he regularly played ‘Honey’ – later parodied in the ‘mockumentary’ Smashie and Nicey: The End of an Era.”

Working My Way Back to You

First recorded by The Four Season (US #9/UK #50 1965).
Also recorded by The Happenings (1972)
Other hit versions by The Spinners (US #2 1979 |UK #1/IRE #1 1980), Boyzone (IRE #3 1994).

From the wiki: “‘Working My Way Back to You’ was written by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, with the song originally recorded in 1966 by The Four Seasons, reaching #9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. and #50 on the UK Singles chart. It is the only Four Seasons’ hit to feature the group’s arranger, Charles Calello, in the temporary role of bassist/bass vocalist, having replaced original member Nick Massi.

“In 1979, The Spinners recorded a medley of ‘Working My Way Back to You’ and Michael Zager’s ‘Forgive Me Girl’, topping the UK Singles chart for two weeks in April 1980.

“The Irish boyband, Boyzone, released a cover version of ‘Working My Way Back to You’ as their debut single in May 1994. The song reached #3 on the Irish Singles Chart. It is one of the few songs to feature Mikey Graham on lead vocals.”

What Kind of Fool Am I?

First recorded by Anthony Newley (1961).
Also recorded by Tony Bennett (1962), James Brown (1970).
Hit versions by Sammy Davis, Jr. (US #17/MOR #6 1962), Shirley Bassey (UK #47 1963).

From the wiki: “”What Kind of Fool Am I?” is a popular song written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and published in 1962. It was introduced by Anthony Newley in the musical Stop The World – I Want To Get Off. Bricusse and Newley received the 1961 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

“This song was recorded while Newley was on the road with the touring company of ‘Stop the World …’ in the United States, after its hugely successful run in the United Kingdom. By the time the cast reached New York, Tony Bennett had re-recorded the song*. The song was a hit for Sammy Davis Jr. in the year of its publication, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and at #6 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. It also won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, with songwriters Bricusse and Newley becoming the first Britons to do so. In 1963 Shirley Bassey released the song as a Columbia Record single and her version reached #47 on the UK charts.

“James Brown covered ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’ for his 1970 album, Soul on Top.

“The song was also the inspiration for a Gary Larson cartoon (see below).

* “Publisher Harold Richmond related an amusing story about Bennett and ‘What Kind of Food Am I?’:

‘When I was in England to see Oliver! and I heard ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’, Tony was my first choice for the song. (Sammy Davis, Jr. found the song by himself.) Tony had had ‘San Francisco’ out for six or eight weeks and he said, ‘Howie, I’m going to stick with ‘San Francisco’ for a while. I like ‘What Kind of Fool’ but –.’ I said to him, ‘Tony! ‘San Francisco’ has been out a couple of months and nothing’s happening with it!’ Tony said, ‘Well, I’m still going to stick with it for a while.’ Well, we all know how that turned out.'”

Billboard magazine, Nov. 30, 1968

Hey Harmonica Man

First recorded by Jo Jo Wail & the Somethings (1963).
Hit version by Stevie Wonder (US #29/R&B #5 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Hey Harmonica Man’ was written by Marty Cooper and Lou Josie, and was first recorded in 1963 by Jo Jo Wail & the Somethings. It would be covered by Stevie Wonder in 1964.

“Wonder has poured scorn on his pre-’65 Motown output; whenever he’s asked about these records, he seems to lump them all together as a collection of ‘juvenilia’. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s ‘Hey Harmonica Man’ for which he reserves particular criticism, describing it on more than one occasion as ’embarrassing’.

Go Where You Wanna Go

Written and first recorded by The Mamas & The Papas (1966).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #16/CAN #9 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ was written by John Phillips, and was first recorded by the Mamas & The Papas for their LP If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.

“In [Hal] Blaine’s book, Michelle admits ‘Our group had never sung with anything but an acoustic guitar until that fateful day in 1965 when we came together in Studio 3 at Western Recorders. There, the Mamas and the Papas’ ‘sound’ was created with the distinctive beat that Blaine already made himself famous for.’

“That ‘sound’ was the key. Sloan writes, ‘We needed to find a mic that worked magic for their voices, and the perfect echo and reverb for them. Without it, their voices didn’t seem to fly.’ You can hear it on the first Mamas and Papas single, ‘Go Where You Wanna Go’, which inexplicably failed to catch on when it was released on Dunhill.”

What Really Happened To The Mamas And The Papas?, by Mitchell Cohen, 2017

“‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ was later made into a hit by the The 5th Dimension, who recorded the song for their debut studio album, Up, Up and Away, in 1966, becoming the group’s very first single release.”

We’ll Sing in the Sunshine

First recorded (as “Sing in the Sunshine”) by Hoyt Axton with The Sherwood Singers (1963)
Hit versions by Gale Garnett (US #4/MOR #1/AUS #10/NZ #1 1964), The Lancastrians (UK #44 1964), Helen Reddy (MOR #12 1978).

From the wiki: “‘We’ll Sing in the Sunshine’ was written by Gale Garnett for her then-boyfriend, Hoyt Axton, and was first recorded in 1963 by Axton (‘Joy to the World‘, ‘No No Song‘) and The Sherwood Singers for the groups’ 1963 album The Happy Song. Garnett recorded her own version a year later, scoring a US Top-10 hit and reaching #1 in her native New Zealand. The song went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1965.

“In the UK, ‘We’ll Sing in the Sunshine’ was covered by The Lancastrians in a version featuring guitar work from both Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan. Helen Reddy’s 1978 cover, produced by Kim Fowley, was issued as a single and, although reacing reached #12 on the MOR music chart, it became the first lead single from a Reddy album to miss the Billboard Hot 100. Nonetheless, the song took on new life when Reddy sang the song on The Muppet Show while singing and dancing with Sopwith the Camel.”

Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)

First recorded by Bobby Darin (Jul 1962 |Released Nov 1963).
First released by The New World Singers (Released Jul 1963).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (Nov 1962 |Released Aug 1963).
Inspired by “Who’s Gonna Buy You Ribbons (When I’m Gone)” by Paul Clayton (1960).
Hit version by Peter Paul & Mary (US #9/MOR #2 1963). The Wonder Who? (parodied as “Don’t Think Twice” US #12 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ was written by Bob Dylan in 1962, recorded on November 14 that year, and released on the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and as a single in August 1963. There were other, earlier recordings and releases prior to Dylan’s because of the music’s availability via Witmark Publishing Co. Bobby Darin first recorded the song in July 1962, four months before Dylan. The New World Singers (‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘) released their version one month prior Dylan, in July 1963.

“The cover recording by Peter, Paul & Mary, released in September 1963 (entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #67), was the second consecutive Dylan song released as singles – preceded by ‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘ – from the album In the Wind.

“The Four Seasons released a cover of the song as a single in 1965 (with the title “Don’t Think Twice”) under the pseudonym The Wonder Who?, one of a handful of ‘names’ used by the group at that time. On the heels of recording a live album of Broadway tunes (to complete the settlement of the group’s lawsuit with Vee-Jay Records), Valli, Crewe, and Gaudio had planned on recording an album consisting entirely of songs written by Bob Dylan. But, as recording progressed, the concept was modified to include songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Valli was not happy with his vocals on the various takes of ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ when he decided to record the song with a ‘joke’ falsetto vocal to reduce the tension in the studio. An executive of Philips Records heard a replay of the recording with the ‘joke’ vocal and wanted it to be released as a single.

“Sold in a picture sleeve with a connect the dots puzzle, the record with the truncated name (‘Don’t Think Twice’) was released as by ‘The Wonder Who?’ in November 1965. As the single was sliding down the chart in January 1966, after peaking at #12, a Frankie Valli ‘solo’ single (‘(You’re Gonna) Hurt Yourself’) and a Four Seasons single (‘Working My Way Back to You’) were also in the upper half of the chart, giving three simultaneous hit records by the group under different guises.”

Don’t Let Me Down

First recorded (as a demo) by John Lennon (1968).
Hit B-side single version by The Beatles (1969).

From the wiki: “Written by John Lennon as an anguished love song to his wife, Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney interpreted ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ as a ‘genuine plea’, with Lennon saying to Ono, ‘I’m really stepping out of line on this one. I’m really just letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down.’ First recorded as a demo by Lennon in 1968, multiple versions of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ were recorded by the Beatles during the tumultuous Let It Be (née Get Back) recording sessions. The version recorded on 28 January 1969 was released as a B-side to the single ‘Get Back’, recorded the same day.

“The Beatles performed ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ twice during their rooftop concert of 30 January 1969, one of which was included in the Let It Be (1970) film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. When the ‘Get Back’ project was revisited, Phil Spector dropped ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ from the Let It Be (1970) album. The B-side version of the song was later included on the Beatles’ compilation albums Hey Jude, 1967-1970 and Past Masters Volume 2 and Mono Masters.”

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