Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: 1990s

Stay (I Missed You)

First recorded (as a demo) by Lisa Loeb (1992).
Hit version by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories (1994).

From the wiki: “‘Stay (I Missed You)’ was written by singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. It was released in May 1994 as the lead single from the original motion-picture soundtrack for Reality Bites. ‘Stay’ was originally conceived by Loeb in 1990. Loeb, who had attended Berklee School of Music in Boston for a summer session after graduating from Brown University, formed a full band called Nine Stories in 1990. The band, which was named after the book by J.D. Salinger, included Tim Bright on guitar, Jonathan Feinberg on drums, and Joe Quigley on bass. Loeb began working with producer Juan Patiño to make the cassette Purple Tape in 1992. It included the earliest recordings of later popular tracks such as ‘Do You Sleep?’, ‘Snow Day’, ‘Train Songs’, ‘It’s Over’ and ‘Stay (I Missed You)’. Loeb sold the violet-colored cassette to fans at gigs and used it as a sonic calling card to music industry gatekeepers.

(To) Make You Feel My Love

First recorded by Billy Joel (US #53 1997).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (1997); Bryan Ferry (2007).
Other hit versions by Garth Brooks (C&W #1 1998), Adele (UK #4/NETH #3/SCOT #4 2008).

From the wiki: “‘Make You Feel My Love’ was written by Bob Dylan that appeared on his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. It was first recorded and released commercially by Billy Joel, under the title ‘To Make You Feel My Love’, before Dylan’s version appeared later that same year. It has since been covered by numerous performers and has proved to be a commercial success for recording artists such as Garth Brooks, and Adele.”

Change the World

Originally recorded by Wynonna (Feb 1996).
Hit version by Eric Clapton (US #5/MOR #1/R&B #54/UK #18 July 1996).

From the wiki: “’Change the World’ was written by Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy, and Wayne Kirkpatrick. Previous to the release of Eric Clapton’s hit version, the song was recorded by Country superstar Wynonna Judd for her album Revelations, released in February 1996. Wynonna, however, did not release her version as a single despite the popularity of Clapton’s subsequent recording when it was released to radio in July 1996.

Achy Breaky Heart

First recorded (as “Don’t Tell My Heart”) by The Marcy Brothers (1991).
Hit version by Billy Ray Cyrus (1992).

From the wiki: “‘Achy Breaky Heart’ was written by Don Von Tress. Originally titled ‘Don’t Tell My Heart’ and performed by The Marcy Brothers in 1991, its name was later changed to ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ and performed by Billy Ray Cyrus on his 1992 album Some Gave All. Cyrus’ recording became a crossover hit on Pop and Country radio, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, becoming the first Country single to be certified Platinum since Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s ‘Islands in the Stream‘ in 1983. The song was initially to be recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1990s but the group decided against recording it after lead singer Duane Allen said that he did not like the words ‘achy breaky’.”

I Swear

First released by John Michael Montgomery (US #42/C&W #1 1993).
Hit version by All-4-One (US #1/R&B #13/UK #2/CAN #1/AUS #1/NETH #1 1994).

From the wiki: “‘I Swear’ was written by Gary Baker and Frank J. Myers, who also recorded a demo of it in 1989 at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They couldn’t convince anyone to record the song at the time but, in 1992, they recorded a new demo of ‘I Swear’ which attracted the attention of John Michael Montgomery. Montgomery would record the song in 1993 and release it as the first single from his 1994 album Kickin It Up.

Step by Step

First recorded by The Superiors (1987).
Hit version by New Kids on the Block (US #1/UK #2/CAN #1/1990).

From the wiki: “‘Step by Step’ was written by Maurice Starr and originally recorded by one of Starr’s other groups, The Superiors, and released as a Motown single in 1987.

Torn

First released (as “Brændt [Burnt]”) by Lis Sørensen (1993).
Also recorded by Ednaswap (1995 | 1997).
Hit version by Natalie Imbruglia (US #1/UK #2/CAN #1/BE #1/SWE #1 1997).

From the wiki: “‘Torn’ was written by Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, and Phil Thornalley during a demo session in 1993 before Ednaswap was formed. This song has been covered a surprising number of times, considering that it was written by a nearly unknown alternative rock band. The first recorded version of the song was, in 1993, a translation by Danish singer Lis Sørensen, ‘Brændt’ (which translates to ‘Burnt’ in English). Stylistically, Sørensen’s 1993 version is very close to Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 version, most likely because (as co-writer Preven has said in an interview) the early Ednaswap demo [not available] was almost exactly like Imbruglia’s version.

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