Written and released by Melanie (B-side US #35/A-side UK #9 1970).
Other hit version (as ‘Look What They Done to My Song Ma’) by The New Seekers (US #14/MOR #4/CAN #3/UK #44 1970).
From the wiki: “‘What Have They Done to My Song Ma’ was written by Melanie (Safka). Released in 1970 as the B-side of her ‘Ruby Tuesday’ promotional single for the album Candles in the Rain, the reached the #9 on the UK Singles charts for three weeks.
“Later in 1970, the New Seekers covered Melanie’s song, retitling it to its first lyric line, ‘Look What They Done to My Song Ma’, and scored their first US hit single.”
Written and first recorded by Buffy Sainte-Marie (1964).
Hit versions by Donovan (US #53/UK #5 1965), Glen Campbell (US #45/AUS #16/SWE #4 1965).
From the wiki: “‘Universal Soldier’ was written and first recorded in 1964 by Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie for release on Sainte-Marie’s debut album It’s My Way!. The song was not a popular hit at the time of its release, but it did garner attention within the contemporary folk music community. Sainte-Marie said of the song: ‘I wrote ‘Universal Soldier’ in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in the early sixties. It’s about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all.’
“A year later, it caught the attention of budding folk singer Donovan, who recorded it using a similar arrangement to Sainte-Marie’s original recording but with some lyrical changes. For example, in Donovan’s version, Dachau became Liebau (Lubawka, Poland), a training center for Hitler Youth. Donovan’s recording was released in the UK on an EP titled The Universal Soldier and continued Donovan’s run of high-charting UK releases by reaching #5 on the charts.
Written and first recorded by Tom Paxton (1962).
Hit versions by The Chad Mitchell Trio (US #43/MOR #20 1963); Peter, Paul & Mary (1969).
From the wiki: “‘The Marvelous Toy’ was written in 1962 by folk singer Tom Paxton, and was first released on his album of songs recorded live at the ‘Gaslight Cafe’, Greenwich Village, I’m The Man That Built The Bridges. The album liner notes opine that ‘[t]his LP marks Tom Paxton’s achievement. Taped at the Gaslight on a series on a series of warm Autumn afternoons in 1962, it is his own interpretation of the songs he has given America – and a promise of the many fine songs yet to come … The singer is at home in the whimsical world of children, too. ‘THE MARVELOUS TOY’, with its zip, bop noises is a constant favorite with Village audiences.’
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 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.”
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.
First recorded by Cynthia Gooding (1956).
Popular versions by Glenn Yarbrough (as “All My Sorrows” 1957), Kingston Trio (as “All My Sorrows” 1959), Joan Baez (1960), The Shadows (as “All My Sorrows” 1963), The Searchers (as “All My Sorrows” 1963), Peter Paul & Mary (1963), Dick & Dee Dee (US #89 1964).
Also recorded (in medley) by Elvis Presley (1972).
From the wiki: “”All My Trials” is a folk song during the social protest movements of the 1950s and 1960s. It is based on a Bahamian lullaby that tells the story of a mother on her death bed, comforting her children. The message — that no matter how bleak the situation seemed, the struggle would ‘soon be over’ — propelled the song to the status of an anthem, recorded by many of the leading artists of the era.
“Cynthia Gooding first recorded the song in 1956. It quickly became a Folk song staple, with recordings by Glenn Yarbrough (1957), The Kingston Trio (1959), and Joan Baez (1960) following soon thereafter. (Gooding would later go on to host a Folk music show on NYC radio station WBAI and, in 1962, would conduct the first radio interview, ever, with a young Bob Dylan.) In the UK, Cliff Richard’s backing band, The Shadows, recorded an instrumental cover of ‘All My Sorrows’ in 1961 for their first solo outing, The Shadows; The Searchers would also cover the song in 1963 for the album Sugar and Spice.
“Folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary released ‘All My Trials’ on their best-selling 1963 album, In the Wind, which yielded the hit singles ‘Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)‘ and ‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘. Dick & Dee Dee’s 1964 recording is the only recording to have charted in the Billboard Hot 100.
“A fragment of ‘All My Trials’ is used in the Mickey Newbury anthem ‘An American Trilogy’, also recorded by Elvis Presley and broadcast worldwide in 1972 on Aloha from Hawaii.”
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.”
“The Mamas & The Papas released ‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ as the group’s first single from their debut album, If You Can Believe Your Ears and Eyes. It had no apparent chart impact. The second single released from the album, ‘California Dreamin”, was much more successful.
“It was label mate Johnny Rivers who suggested the song to The 5th Dimension. The group recorded the song for their debut studio album, Up, Up and Away, in 1966, and was also that group’s very first single release, preceding the group’s Top-10 title track hit. ‘Go Where You Wanna Go’ charted in the US Top-20 and the Canadian Top-10.”
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. Although it reached #12 on the MOR music chart, Reddy’s recording 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.”
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), Eric Clapton (1992).
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 by him on November 14 that year, and released on the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and as his second-ever single in August 1963 with no chart impact.
“But, there were other, earlier recordings and releases prior to Dylan’s because of the music’s availability via Witmark Publishing Co., when Dylan was “just” an aspiring songwriter. Bobby Darin, no slouch in discovering talent (see Tim Hardin), first recorded the song in July 1962, the same month as Dylan, but the New World Singers released their version one month prior Dylan’s own recording and four months prior to Darin’s recording, in July 1963.
First hit version (as “Der Frohliche Wanderer”) by The Obernkirchen Children’s Choir (UK #2 1954).
Other hit version by Frank Weir & His Saxophone, Chorus and Orchestra (US #4 1954), Henri René & His Musette Orchestra (US #8 1954).
From the wiki: “‘The Happy Wanderer’ (‘Der fröhliche Wanderer’ or ‘Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann’) was first written as poetry by Florenz Friedrich Sigismund (1788-1857). The present tune was composed by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller shortly after World War II. It is often mistaken for a German folk song, but it is actually an original composition. Friedrich-Wilhem’s sister, Edith Möller, conducted a small amateur children’s and youth choir in Schaumburg County, Northern Germany, internationally named Obernkirchen Children’s Choir, and adapted Sigismund’s words for her choir. The amateur choir, many of whose original members were war orphans, turned into an unlikely international phenomenon in the following years.
“In 1953 a BBC radio broadcast of the choir’s winning performance at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod turned the song into an instant hit. On January 22, 1954, the song entered the UK singles chart and stayed on the chart—only a Top 12 at the time — for 26 non-consecutive weeks, peaking at #2 (for five consecutive weeks). With the BBC’s strong international influence ‘The Happy Wanderer’ turned up everywhere, e.g., as the winning song of the 1955 Calypso road-march season of the Trinidad Carnival. (People protested after this event, complaining that only Calypsoes should be chosen over foreign music).
First recorded by Lead Belly (1940).
Also recorded by Woody Guthrie (1944), Lonnie Donegan (1956), The Weavers (1960), John Herald & The Greenbriar Boys (1961).
Hit version by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #35/MOR #17 1963).
From the wiki: “There are two major but different arrangements of the sporting ballad, generally titled either ‘Skewball’ or ‘Stewball’; the latter spelling is more popular in America. Versions date at least as far back as the 18th century. In most versions of ‘Stewball’ the winning horse triumphs due to the stumbling of the lead horse; ‘Skewball’ wins simply by being the faster horse in the end. The oldest broadside identified with the ballad is dated 1784 and is held by the Harding Collection of the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford. The song spread to America by 1829 when it was published in a songbook in Hartford. American versions were sung and adapted by slaves in the Southern United States, and have ‘Stewball’ racing in California, Texas, or Kentucky.
First recorded (as “The Hammer Song”) by The Weavers (1950).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #10 1962), Trini Lopez (US #3 1963).
From the wiki: “‘If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)’ was written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers in 1950. It was not particularly successful in commercial terms when it was first released.
“The song was first performed publicly by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays on June 3, 1949, at St. Nicholas Arena in New York City at a testimonial dinner for the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States. It was later part of the three songs Seeger played as the warm-up act for Paul Robeson’s September 4, 1949, concert near Peekskill, New York, which subsequently erupted into a riot.
“‘If I Had a Hammer’ went on to become a Top-10 hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962 and, a year later, went to #3 when recorded by Trini Lopez.”
Written and first performed by Joni Mitchell (1969).
Hit versions by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (US #11 1970), Matthew’s Southern Comfort (US #23/UK #1/CAN #5/IRE #2/POL #2/SWE #2 1970).
From the wiki: “‘Woodstock’ was written by Joni Mitchell and included on her 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon. But, was first performed Mitchell at the Big Sur Folk Festival in September 1969, one month after the Woodstock Music and Art Festival. The song was notably covered by both Matthews Southern Comfort, and by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and would on to become a counterculture anthem. Mitchell wrote the song from what she had heard from then-boyfriend, Graham Nash, about the Woodstock concert. She had not been there herself; she had been told by a manager that it would be more advantageous for her to appear at the time on The Dick Cavett Show. Mitchell wrote it in a hotel room in New York City, watching televised reports of the festival.
Written and first recorded by John Martyn (1971).
Re-recorded by John Martyn (1973).
Hit album version by Eric Clapton (1977).
From the wiki: “‘May You Never’ became something of a signature song for its writer, John Martyn, becoming a staple of his live performances. Released in November 1971 as a single, in an early form with a full band, the first release of ‘May You Never’ had slightly different lyrics than appeared in subsequent recordings. ‘May You Never’ was re-recorded with a more sparse arrangement for the Solid Air album sessions in 1973. According to Songfacts.com, the night before producer John Wood was due to fly to New York to master the album, he was still waiting for the tape containing this tune. ‘It was by then nearly midnight,’ he recalled to Mojo magazine April 2013, ‘so I said to him, For Christ’s sake, John, just go back down into the studio and play it again, and we’ll record it. And he did, and it’s great.’
“Eric Clapton covered ‘May You Never’ on his 1977 album Slowhand. When Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards, Clapton sent a message saying that [Martyn] was ‘so far ahead of everything else it was inconceivable’ and acknowledged the extent of his influence on ‘everyone who ever heard him.'”
Written and first recorded (as “Hey Lolly Lolly”) by Woody Guthrie (1944, released 1952).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (as “Hey Li-Lee”, 1954), The Vipers Skiffle Group (sa “Hey Liley Liley Lo”, 1957), The Limeliters (as “Hey Li Lee Li Lee”, 1961).
Hit version by Chubby Checker (US #12/R&B #4 1963).
From the wiki: “Woody Guthrie recorded a version of “Hey Lolly Lolly” in 1944 which was not released until 1952. Pete Seeger recorded ‘Hey Li-Lee’ in 1954 but the song did not first gain wide familiarity until The Limeliters recorded their variation, ‘Hey Li Lee Li Lee’, during the early ’60s Folk music revival. Chubby Checker further adapted the song, recording ‘Hey Lolly Lolly’ in 1963 and going Top 20 with it on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 5 US R&B charts.”
Written and first recorded by Suzanne Vega (1982).
Hit versions Suzanne Vega (UK #58 1987), DNA (as “Oh Suzanne!”) ft. Suzanne Vega (US #5/R&B #10/UK #2 1990/CAN #4/AUS #8/GER #1), Giorgio Moroder ft. Britney Spears (2015).
From the wiki: “Tom’s Diner’ was written and first recorded by Suzanne Vega in 1982. The song’s orgin can be traced back to a story published on November 18, 1981, in the New York Post, thanks to this set of lines:
‘I open up the paper, there’s a story of an actor / Who had died while he was drinking, it was no one I had heard of / And I’m turning to the horoscope, and looking for the funnies.’
“By cross-referencing the New York daily papers operating in 1981, fans of the song isolated the star in question as William Holden, an Academy Award winner who died alone and drunk in his apartment.
Adapted from “It It Wasn’t for Dickey” by Lead Belly (1937).
First recorded by The Weavers (US #19 1951).
Other hit versions by Jimmie Rodgers (US #3 1957), Frankie Vaughn (UK #8 1958).
From the wiki: “‘Kisses Sweeter than Wine’ is a love song written by The Weavers in 1950, and first recorded by the group in 1951. In his 1993 book Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Pete Seeger described the long genesis of this song. Apparently, Blues singer Lead Belly heard Irish performer Sam Kennedy in Greenwich Village singing the traditional Irish song ‘Drimmin Down’ aka ‘Drimmen Dow’, about a farmer and his dead cow. Lead Belly adapted the tune for his own farmer/cow song ‘If It Wasn’t for Dickey’, which he first recorded in 1937. Seeger liked Lead Belly’s version of the tune, and his chords as well. In 1950, the quartet The Weavers, which Seeger belonged to, had made a hit version of Lead Belly’s ‘Goodnight, Irene’, and they were looking for new, similar material.
First recorded by Steve Gillette (1967).
Also recorded by The Stone Poneys (1967).
Hit version by The Sunshine Company (US #36 1967).
From the wiki: “‘Back on the Street Again’ was written by Steve Gillette and first recorded by him for his own debut eponymous album released in 1967. Later the same year, Gillette would record a cover of his own song as a member of The Stone Poneys, singing harmony to Linda Ronstadt’s lead on the group’s debut album which yielded the hit single, ‘Different Drum‘. The Sunshine Company (‘Up, Up and Away‘) would also record the song in 1967 and with it achieve the group’s biggest chart success with their only US Top 40 hit.”
Written and first recorded (as “(You Got to Have) Friends”) by Buzzy Linhart (1970).
Hit version by Better Midler (US #40/MOR #9 1973).
From the wiki: “‘Friends’ (also titled ‘(You Got to Have) Friends’) was written by Buzzy Linhart and Mark ‘Moogy’ Klingman and was first recorded by Linhart in 1970. Bette Midler was one of Linhart’s close friends during the early 1970s. While rehearsing for an audition for a Broadway show called Mirror Cracked, Linhart sang ‘Friends’ to Midler.
“After hearing the song, Midler asked Linhart if she could sing the song during a show that she was performing at the Continental Baths in New York. Soon after, Midler recorded the song (twice!) on her debut album The Divine Miss M, and released the song as a single backed with ‘Chapel of Love‘.
First recorded by The We Three Trio (1964).
Hit version by Glen Yarbrough (US #12/MOR #2 1965).
Also recorded by Chris Connor (1965).
From the wiki: “‘Baby the Rain Must Fall’ was written by film score composer Elmer Bernstein (‘The Magnificent Seven’) and Ernie Sheldon, and was first performed and recorded by The We Three Trio for the motion-picture Baby the Rain Must Fall where it was heard during the opening credits.
“The song was later covered by Glenn Yarbrough for his 1965 album Baby the Rain Must Fall, with an arrangement by future Bread founder David ‘Dave’ Gates. ‘Baby the Rain Must Fall’ was also covered in 1965 by Chris Connor, who included it on her album Chris Connor Sings Gentle Bossa Nova.”
Written and first released by Rod McKuen (1964).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1964), Mark Lindsay (1969).
Hit version by Frank Sinatra (US #75/MOR #8/UK #8 1969).
From the wiki: “Rod McKuen wrote over 1,500 songs, including ‘Love’s Been Good to Me’, ‘Seasons in the Sun‘, and ‘Jean‘, which have accounted for the sale of over 100 million records worldwide according to the Associated Press. First recorded in 1964 by McKuen, The Kingston Trio covered the song for the album The Kingston Trio (Nick Bob John). In 1969, Frank Sinatra commissioned an entire album of poems and songs by McKuen; arranged by Don Costa, it was released under the title A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen. The album featured the song ‘Love’s Been Good to Me’, which was to become one of McKuen’s best-known songs. ”
Written and first performed by Anne Bredon (1959).
First commercial recording by Joan Baez (1961).
Also recorded by The Plebs (1964), The Association (1965).
Album hit version by Led Zeppelin (1969).
From the wiki: “‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ was written by Anne Bredon née Johannsen in the late 1950s. Bredon appeared on the live Folk music radio show, The Midnight Special, on Pacifica radio’s KPFA singing ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’. A fellow Folk singer guesting on the program, Janet Smith, took up the song and developed it further, playing it live at hootenanny events at Oberlin College, one performance of which was attended by Joan Baez. Baez requested of Smith to send her a recording of her songs, including ‘Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You’, which Baez subsequently began performing herself.
“Vanguard Records, Baez’s label, later sent Smith a letter asking if she had written ‘Babe’. In the meantime, Baez had recorded the song and included it on her In Concert album. Initial pressings listed no writer’s credit for ‘Babe’. The 1964 recording by the Surrey, England, band The Plebs credits ‘Trad arr. Dennis’ but, later the same year, the Joan Baez Songbook rightfully lists Anne Bredon as the author as does the 1965 recording of the song by The Association. (It was the group’s first single release, but had no chart impact.)
First recorded by The American Quartet with Billy Murray (1910).
Hit version by Eddy Arnold (C&W #15 1956).
From the wiki: “‘The Ballad of Casey Jones’ is a traditional song about railroad engineer Casey Jones and his death at the controls of the train he was driving. The song helped preserve the memory of Jones’ feat down through the years in its 40+ versions and enhanced Casey’s legendary status to the extent that he has even become something of a mythological figure like Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan to the uninformed. Soon after Casey’s death, the song was first sung by engine wiper and friend of Casey’s named Wallace Saunders to the tune of a popular song of the time known as ‘Jimmie Jones’.
“But Saunders never had his original version copyrighted, and thus there is no way of knowing precisely what words he sang. Illinois Central Engineer William Leighton appreciated the song’s potential enough to tell his brothers Frank Leighton and Bert Leighton, who were vaudeville performers, about it. They took it and sang it in theaters around the country with a chorus they added. But apparently even they neglected to get it copyrighted.
“Finally, with vaudeville performers T. Lawrence Seibert credited with the lyrics and Eddie Newton the music it was published and offered for sale in 1909 with the title ‘Casey Jones, The Brave Engineer’, and first recorded in 1910 by Billy Murray’s American Quartet.”
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