Written and first recorded by The Bee Gees (1976).
Hit versions by Yvonne Elliman (US #20/UK #6/IRE #9/NZ #3 1976), Martine McCutcheon (UK #6 1999).
From the wiki: “‘Love Me’ was first recorded and released by the Bee Gees, released on the 1976 album Children of the World. It was written by Barry and Robin Gibb featuring Robin on lead with his falsetto (with Barry on the middle eight evidenced on the outro). This makes this song a curio among the group’s mid- to late-’70s tracks, as Barry sang most of the The Bee Gee’s lead vocals. Yvonne Elliman’s version was more successful than the Bee Gees’, reaching the Top-20 US chart, and Top-10 in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. Martine McCutcheon remade ‘Love Me’ for her 1999 debut album You, Me & Us from which the track – serving as the BBC Children in Need single for 1999 – was issued as the third single.”
First performed by Ella Logan & Donald Richards (1947).
First recorded by Charley Spivak & His Orchestra (1947).
Hit version by Margaret Whiting (US #11 1947).
Also recorded by Miles Davis (1954), Sarah Vaughn (1954), Frank Sinatra (1956), Chet Baker (1958)
From the wiki: “‘Old Devil Moon’ was composed by Burton Lane, with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, for the 1947 musical Finian’s Rainbow. It was introduced on stage by Ella Logan and Donald Richards. It was first recorded for commercial release by Charley Spivak & His Orchestra; singer Margaret Whiting topped the US Hit Parade in 1947 with her cover recording, from the Margaret Whiting Sings album.
“Another popular rendition of this song was recorded by Frank Sinatra, who included ‘Old Devil Moon’ on his 1956 Capitol Records album Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! which peaked at #1 in the UK. Sarah Vaughn, and Chet Baker also recorded popular vocal arrangements. Miles Davis recorded a popular instrumental version in 1954 for the Blue Haze album.”
First recorded by Charles Harrison (US #1 1913).
Other hit versions by Henry Burr (US #2 1913), The Three Suns (US #1 1947), Buddy Clark (US #1 1947), The Harmonicats (US #1 1947), Ted Weems & His Orchestra (US #5 1947).
Also recorded by Dropkick Murphys w/ Bruce Springsteen (2011).
From the wiki: “‘Peg o’ My Heart’ was written by Alfred Bryan and Fred Fisher. The song was inspired by the main character, Peg, in the very successful musical comedy of the time, Peg O’ My Heart, starring Laurette Taylor in the title role. It would be first performed publicly by Irving Kaufman in 1912 at The College Inn in New York City after he had stumbled across a draft of sheet music on a shelf at the Leo Feist publishing offices. ‘Peg o My Heart’ would be featured in the 1913 musical Ziegfeld Follies where it gained wide attention.
“The first recording of ‘Peg o’ My Heart’ was made by Charles Harrison, in July 1913. Henry Burr followed in August 1913 with his rendition. Both proved to be nationally-popular recordings. ‘Peg o’ My Heart’ saw a resurgence of popularity after WWII with numerous covers jockeying for popularity in 1947, including #1 recordings by The Three Suns, Buddy Clark, and The Harmonicats. In 2011, Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys would revive the song, with a guest appearance by Bruce Springsteen.”
Co-written and first recorded by Sid Ramin (1965).
Hit versions by The Bob Crewe Generation (US #15/MOR #2 1966), Andy Williams (US #34/UK #33 1967 |UK#9 1999), Al Hirt (US #119/MOR #31 1967).
Also recorded (as “Music to Watch Space Girls Go By”) by Leonard Nimoy (1967).
From the wiki: “‘Music to Watch Girls Go By’ was composed by Tony Velona and Sidney ‘Sid’ Ramin, and was first recorded as a commercial jingle demo for Diet Pepsi, where producer Bob Crewe first heard the song. Crewe, using his own name, then recorded the song under his nom de plume ‘The Bob Crewe Generation’. Crewe’s ‘big-band, horn driven’ recording went to #15 on the Pop chart and #2 on the Easy Listening chart.
“A vocal recording by Andy Williams, featuring lyrics by original co-writer Velona, went to #34 in the United States and #33 in the UK but, after it was used in a Fiat ad in the UK in 1999, the re-released single reached the UK Top-10. The version by Al Hirt in 1967 reached #31 on the MOR chart and bubbled-under the Billboard Hot 100. In 1967, an instrumental version, renamed ‘Music to Watch Space Girls By’, appeared on Leonard Nimoy’s debut album Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space.”
Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Steve Porcaro (1983).
Hit version by Michael Jackson (1984).
From the wiki: “‘Human Nature’ was written by Toto band member Steve Porcaro about a playground incident his daughter had at school earlier in the day. (A boy had hit her after she fell off the slide – Porcaro said ‘she asked [me] why?’ and he replied ‘it was human nature.’) Procaro wrote the song that night in a studio while the band was mixing their single, ‘Africa’, in another studio.
“Soon after, bandmate David Paich called Procaro one day to make a cassette tape of 2 songs David had written for Michael Jackson’s new Thriller album project, for someone to pick up for delivery. Procaro happened to use the cassette he recorded ‘Human Nature’ on, putting Paich’s songs on the opposite side and switching the labels to read Side-A. It was a happy accident that auto-playback kicked in while Jackson producer Quincy Jones was in his car listening to Porcaro’s cassette demo. Jones got to hear ‘Human Nature’ on Side B, and loved it.”
Co-written and first recorded by Bert Kaempfert (1964).
Hit version by Nat “King” Cole (US #89/MOR #17 1965)
From the wiki: “‘L-O-V-E’ was composed by Bert Kaempfert, and was first recorded as an instrumental track on Kaempfert’s album Blue Midnight (1964). Nat ‘King’ Cole followed in 1965 with his vocal recording for his album of the same name (1965), with lyrics by Milt Gabler. The trumpet solo on the Cole recording was performed by Bobby Bryant. For international versions of L-O-V-E album, Cole also recorded versions of ‘L-O-V-E’ in Japanese (mixed with English words), Italian, German, Spanish and French (as ‘Je Ne Repartirai Pas’).”
First performed by The Wellingtons (1954).
First released by Bill Hayes (US #1/UK #2 1955).
Other hit versions by Fess Parker (US #6 1955), Tennessee Ernie Ford (US #5/C&W #4/UK #3 1955), Mac Wiseman (US #10 1955), Max Bygraves (UK #20 1955).
From the wiki: “‘The Ballad of Davy Crockett’ was introduced on ABC’s television series Disneyland, in the premiere episode of October 27, 1954, sung by The Wellingtons but performed on-screen by Fess Parker, playing the role of Davy Crockett, accompanied by similarly attired musicians. The song would later be heard throughout the follow-up Disneyland television miniseries, Davy Crockett, first telecast on December 15, 1954. The Wellingtons were originally called The Lincolns, and recorded for Kapp Records. As The Wellingtons, they were signed by Walt Disney to record the theme song for Disney’s The Wonderful World of Color and, subsequently, ‘The Ballad of Davy Crockett’.
“Trivia: Gilligan’s Island producer Sherwood Schwartz, working with composer George Wyle, came up with a Folk song theme song that told the back story of the castaways, and hired The Wellingtons to sing it. The song was a hit. The Wellingtons appear in a second season (1965–66) episode of Gilligan’s Island as a Rock group called ‘The Mosquitoes’.
First recorded by David Whitfield & the Mantovani Orchestra (US #10/UK #1 1954).
Other hit version by Jay & the Americans (US #4 1965 |NETH #1 1980).
From the wiki: “Authorship of ‘Cara Mia’ (in Italian, ‘my beloved’) is credited to Tulio Trapani (the nom de plume of the song’s co-writer and arranger Mantovani) and Lee Lange (Bunny Lewis, David Whitfield’s producer). English singer David Whitfield first recorded the song with the Mantovani Orchestra in 1954. Whitfield’s version became one of the biggest selling British records in the pre-rock days, the first UK record to spend ten consecutive weeks at #1 on the UK Singles chart. It sold more than three and a half million copies worldwide and was also a Top-10 hit in the US.
“The 1965 cover by Jay & the Americans became a #4 hit in the US. It was re-released in 1980 in the Netherlands and became a #1 hit there.”
First recorded (as “Beddy Bye”) by Bert Kaempfert (1965).
First English-language recording by Jack Jones (1966).
Also recorded by Ivo Robić (1966).
Hit version Frank Sinatra (US #1/MOR #1/UK #1 1966).
From the wiki: “‘Strangers in the Night’ is credited to Bert Kaempfert with English lyrics by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder. It is sometimes claimed that the Croatian singer Ivo Robić was the original composer of ‘Strangers in the Night’ (performed as ‘Stranci u noći’), and that he sold the rights to Kaempfert after entering it without success in a song contest in Yugoslavia. These claims have not been substantiated. Robić, a pioneer of popular Yugoslav music from the early 1950s on, was the only artist from Yugoslavia whose records were available in the record shops of Europe and the rest of the world. He performed and collaborated with Kaempfert, Freddy Quinn, and Dean Martin. Robić would go on to record Yugoslav and German versions of ‘Strangers in the Night’, ‘Stranci u Noći’ with lyrics by Marija Renota and ‘Fremde in der Nacht’ with lyrics by Kurt Feltz.
“Kaempfert originally recorded the melody under the title ‘Beddy Bye’ as part of the instrumental score for the movie soundtrack to A Man Could Get Killed, which went on to win a Golden Globe Award in 1967 for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture.
“It was singer Jack Jone who first recorded a English-language version of ‘Strangers in the Night’ (Bobby Darin was also said to be recording the song) but Frank Sinatra’s recording was rushed into release. Sinatra’s recording reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 (bumping the Beatles out of #1) and the MOR charts. The song also reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. It has been said record producer Jimmy Bowen was the mastermind behind getting the song off the ground and onto the airwaves before anyone else could. According to Charles Pignone, ‘They did the recording session, and then Jimmy actually pressed some acetates and sent them out to disc jockeys. He actually paid people or paid stewardesses in certain cities to take these acetates on a plane then drop them off at a city to disc jockeys because he was aware that Jack Jones had recorded the song, and it was going to come out in a specific time, and he wanted Frank to get airplay on it.’
“‘Strangers in the Night’ also became the title song for Sinatra’s 1966 album Strangers in the Night, his most commercially successful album. Sinatra’s recording won him the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, as well as a Grammy Award for Ernie Freeman for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist or Instrumentalist.
First recorded by Elaine Paige (UK #6 1981).
Similar to “Bolero in Blue” by Larry Clinton (1940).
Other hit versions by Barbra Streisand (US #52/MOR #9/UK #34 1982), Barry Manilow (US #39/MOR #8 1982), Elaine Paige rerecording (UK #36 1998).
From the wiki: “‘Memory’, often incorrectly called ‘Memories’, is a show tune from the 1981 musical Cats. Its writers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cats director Trevor Nunn, received the 1981 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. (Prior to its inclusion in Cats, the tune was earmarked for earlier Lloyd Webber projects, including a ballad for Perón in Evita, and as a song for Max in his original 1970s draft of Sunset Boulevard.)
“The lyric was based on T. S. Eliot’s poems ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. Composer Lloyd Webber feared that the tune sounded too similar to Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ and to a work by Puccini, and also that the opening – the haunting main theme – closely resembled the flute solo (improvised by Bud Shank in the studio) from The Mamas & the Papas’ 1965 song ‘California Dreamin””. He asked his father’s opinion; according to Lloyd Webber, his father responded ‘It sounds like a million dollars!’ While Lloyd Webber does acknowledge Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, there is no mention of similarity to ‘Bolero in Blue’ written by Larry Clinton, replicating note-for-note the first several measures from Clinton’s composition.
Co-written and first recorded (as a demo) by Barry Mann (1961).
Hit versions by The Paris Sisters (US #5 1961), Jimmy Crawford (UK #18 1961), Paul & Barry Ryan (UK #21 1966), Bobby Vinton (US #9/MOR #2 1968), Lynn Anderson (C&W #18 1979), Glen Campbell (C&W #17 1983).
From Songfacts.com: “‘I Love How You Love Me’ was written by Barry Mann (‘Who Put the Bomp’, ‘Venus in Blue Jeans‘, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place‘, ‘Never Gonna Let You Go‘) and Larry Kolber, and first recorded as a demo by Mann in 1961. According to Rich Podolsky’s book Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear, Kolber’s post-military career (he had been a journalist for Stars & Stripes) found him, first, a whiskey salesman and, then, after a casual encounter, a budding lyricist – an unpredictable twist. It was while having lunch at a cafe on Manhattan across the street from Aldon Music that Kolber literally jotted down on a napkin the lyrics, in minutes, to ‘I Love How You Love Me’! Kolber went across to Aldon to look for someone to set his lyrics to music. Barry Mann happened to be in the Aldon offices just at that moment, and it was he who set Kolber’s lyrics to music.
“Tony Orlando was originally slated to sing it, but Phil Spector happened to drop by and asked for the song for one of his girl groups. Kolber was disappointed, thinking that he’d lost a shot at fame without Orlando’s voice.
First recorded by Julie Rogers (1967).
Also recorded by Lorraine Chandler (1967).
Hit movie version by Nancy Sinatra (1967).
From the wiki: “The title track from the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice, was composed and produced by veteran James Bond composer John Barry, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Julie Rogers was asked to perform the song, and recorded it with a 50- or 60-piece orchestra at CTS Studios, London. Her version was quite different from the later Sinatra version, with a more Oriental flavor. Jazz singer Lorraine Chandler also recorded a version of the song that differed greatly from the other two – a more bombastic, Shirley Bassey-sound, differing from the more mellow alternate versions. John Barry recalls, ‘It was usually the producers that said ‘this isn’t working, there’s a certain something that it needed’. If that energy wasn’t there, if that mysterioso kind of thing wasn’t there, then it wasn’t going to work for the movie.’
“Instead, the film’s producer, Cubby Broccoli, wanted his friend Frank Sinatra to perform ‘You Only Live Twice’. Frank suggested that they use his daughter instead. Barry wanted to use Aretha Franklin, but the producers insisted that he use Nancy instead, who was enjoying great popularity in the wake of her single, ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin”.
Co-written and first recorded (as a demo) by Carole King (1967).
Hit version by The Monkees (US #3/CAN #2/UK #11 1967).
From the wiki: “‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and was first recorded in 1967 as a demo by King. Goffin’s and King’s inspiration for the name was a street named Pleasant Valley Way, in West Orange, New Jersey where they were living at the time. The road follows a valley through several communities among the Watchung Mountains. The lyrics were a social commentary on status symbols, creature comforts, life in suburbia and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.
“The Monkees’ single peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured in the second season of their television series. The Monkees. ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ also appeared on the fourth Monkees album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., in November 1967. While mono copies of the album had the same version heard on the single, stereo copies had a version using a different take of the first verse and an additional backing vocal during the break.”
First recorded (as a demo) by Carole King (1961).
Also recorded by Dion & the Belmonts (1961), The Beatles (1962).
Hit versions by Bobby Vee (US #1/UK #3 1961), Bobby Vinton (US #33 1968).
From the wiki: “‘Take Good Care of My Baby’ was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and was first recorded by King as a demo in 1961. Dion & the Belmonts were the first to record the song for commercial release but their version was not published until release of the album Runaround Sue in the slipstream of Bobby Vee’s #1 hit. The song was covered by The Beatles during their audition at Decca Records on January 1, 1962 but was unreleased until 2009. In 1968, ‘Take Good Care’ became a hit again, this time for Bobby Vinton.”
First recorded by Bobby Vee (1962).
Hit versions by Steve Lawrence (US #1/R&B #14 1962), Maryk Wynter (UK #6 1962), The Happenings (US #12 1965), Donny Osmond (US #1 1971).
Also recorded (as “Yu-Ma/Go Away Little Boy”) by Marlena Shaw (R&B #29 1977).
From the wiki: “‘Go Away Little Girl’ was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and was first recorded in 1962 by Bobby Vee. The song would go on to become notable for making the American Top-20 three times: for Steve Lawrence in 1962, for The Happenings in 1966, and for Donny Osmond in 1971. ‘Go Away Little Girl’ was also the first song, and one of only nine total, to reach US #1 by two different artists (Lawrence, in 1962; and Osmond, in 1971). The original recording by Vee was cut during same session as ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’ and ‘Sharing You’. Not satisfied with the result, the song was shelved until producer Don Kirshner passed the song along to his good friend, Steve Lawrence.
First recorded as “Cotton’s Theme” by Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr. (1971).
Also recorded by Sounds of Sunshine (1973).
Hit version (as “Nadia’s Theme”) by Barry De Vorzon (US #8 1977).
Hit version (sampled in “No More Drama”) by Mary J. Blige (US #15/R&B #16/UK #9 2001).
From the wiki: “Mary J. Blige sampled the instrumental popularly known as ‘Nadia’s Theme’ as a backdrop for her 2001 single, ‘No More Drama’. Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. composed this piece of music, originally titled ‘Cotton’s Dream’, as incidental music for the 1971 theatrical film Bless the Beasts and Children. Botkin Jr. later composed a rearranged version of the instrumental theme for the U.S. TV soap opera The Young and the Restless, which debuted on March 26, 1973, on the CBS television network. Although a soundtrack album for the TV series was released by P.I.P. Records in 1974, the LP only contained a cover version by easy-listening group Sounds of Sunshine, rather than the original recording by De Vorzon and Botkin.
Written and first performed (live) by Neil Diamond (1966).
Hit version by The Monkees (1967).
From the wiki: “‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ was written by Neil Diamond. He never made a studio recording of the song (as he had done with The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer‘), but he did perform ‘A Little Bit Me’ in his live shows circa late 1966.
First performed by Shea Chambers (1981).
Hit versions by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #1/UK #7 1981), Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross (US #2/R&B #7/CAN #6/UK #3/IRE #4/AUS #2 1994).
From the wiki: “‘Endless Love’ was written by Lionel Richie, and was first performed in the 1981 movie Endless Love by Shea Chambers (lip-synced by uncredited actress in a singing role) but whose vocal did not appear on the subsequent soundtrack album. The song was then recorded as a duet by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, and was released as the single from the soundtrack album; released while Richie still officially was a member of The Commodores. The success of the duet encouraged Richie to branch out into a full-fledged, and very successful, solo career.
“The Ross/Richie duet became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and nearly 30 years after its release it still remains the best-selling single of Ross’ career. The single stayed at #1 for no less than nine weeks from August 9 to October 10, 1981, making it the biggest-selling single of the year in the US. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart and the Adult Contemporary chart as well as becoming a Top ten hit single in the UK, peaking at #7.
Written and first recorded by Bobby Gosh (1973).
Hit version by Dr. Hook (US #11/UK #2 1976), 911 (UK #1 1999).
Also recorded by Bill Brantley (1977).
From the wiki: “‘A Little Bit More’ was written and first recorded by Bobby Gosh, released on his 1973 album Sitting in the Quiet. The first hit version was recorded by the band Dr. Hook. Released in 1976, it charted at #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the UK Singles chart.”
First recorded by Vaughn De Leath (1927).
Popular recordings by Ben Selvin (US #1 1927), Al Jolson (1927, in The Jazz Singer), Benny Goodman (1935), Count Basie & His Orchestra (US #8 1946), Bing Crosby (1946), Willie Nelson (MOR #32/C&W #1/CAN #1 1978).
Inspired Theolonious Monk “In Walked Bud” (1947).
From the wiki: “‘Blue Skies’ was composed by Irving Berlin in 1926 as a last-minute addition to the Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy. Although the show ran for 39 performances only, the song was an instant success, with audiences on opening night demanding 24 encores of the piece from star Belle Baker. During the final repetition, Ms. Baker forgot her lyrics, prompting Berlin to sing them from his seat in the front row.
First performed by Claramae Turner (1954).
Hit version by Tony Bennett (US #19/MOR #7 1962 |UK #25 1965).
From the wiki: “‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ was written in the fall of 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, by George Cory and Douglass Cross, two amateur writers nostalgic for San Francisco after moving to New York. The song was originally written for opera singer Claramae Turner, a personal friend of Cross, who often used it as an encore. However, she never got around to recording it. The song found its way to Tony Bennett through Ralph Sharon, Bennett’s longtime accompanist and friends with the composers. Sharon brought the music along when he and Bennett were on tour and on their way to San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel.
“Prior to Bennett hearing it, the song was first pitched to Tennessee Ernie Ford, who Turner suggested Cross take it to. Ford turned the song down but, in an ironic turn of events, later purchased a ranch in Lake County, California, owned by Cross’s family.
First recorded by Belinda Carlisle (1987).
Hit versions by Boy Meets Girl (US #5/MOR #1/UK #9/CAN #1 1988), Cabin Crew (UK #4 2005), Sunset Strippers (UK #3 2005).
From the wiki: “‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’ was written by Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill, inspired by an actual falling star that Rubicam had seen at one of Whitney Houston’s concerts at the Greek Theatre. Initially, the duo did not consider recording it and, instead, submitted the song to Clive Davis to consider including it on Houston’s next album. But, he rejected it, alleging that the song did not suit her. The song was then offered to and recorded by Belinda Carlisle for her 1987 release, Heaven on Earth. But, Carlisle disliked the song and refused to include it on the album.
“Merrill and Rubicam decided to record the song themselves for their second album Reel Life, becoming a Top 10 hit in the US, the UK and Canada.”
Co-written and first recorded (as an instrumental) by The James Last Orchestra (1969).
Hit versions by Nick DeCaro (MOR #22 1969), Petula Clark (US #62/MOR #12 1969/AUS #22), Andy Williams (US #22/MOR #1/UK #19/AUS #22 1969).
From the wiki: “‘Happy Heart’ was written by James Last and Jackie Rae, and was first recorded as an instrumental by The James Last Orchestra in 1969. It was first covered by Nick DeCaro, a version which enjoyed modest success in the US on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. ‘Happy Heart’ would go on to be recorded by both Petula Clark and Andy Williams, and released as a single by each almost simultaneously in 1969. Clark’s ‘Happy Heart’ reached #12 on the Easy Listening chart and #62 on the Billboard Hot 100; Williams’ version peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, #19 in the UK, and spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. Clark was reportedly dismayed when Williams was a guest star on her second TV special, with the plan to perform ‘Happy Heart’ at the time each were planning to launch ‘Happy Heart’ as their next respective single.
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