Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Everybody’s Talkin’

Written and originally recorded by Fred Neil (1966).
Hit version by Nilsson (US #113/CAN #35 1968 |US #6/MOR #2/UK #23/CAN #1 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Everybody’s Talkin”, written and first released by Fred Neil in 1966, describes the singer-songwriter’s desire to retreat from other people to the ocean.

“It was hurriedly composed towards the end of the session, after Neil had become anxious to put a wrap on the album he was recording so he could return to his home in Miami, Florida … a retreat to the ocean, as it were … and Neil’s other ‘job’ with The Dolphin Project. Manager Herb Cohen promised that if Neil wrote and recorded one final track, he could go. ‘Everybody’s Talkin” was the result – and Neil’s recording was finished in one take!

“A couple of years later, Harry Nilsson was searching for a potential hit single for inclusion on his 1968 album Aerial Ballet when his producer, Rick Jarrad (Jefferson Airplane, Jose Feliciano), suggested ‘Everybody’s Talkin”. Nilsson’s cover recording, upon its initial release in 1968, flopped – ‘bubbling-under’ the Billboard Hot 100 at #113. Still, when publicist Derek Taylor recommended Nilsson to director John Schlesinger for the forthcoming Midnight Cowboy movie soundtrack, Schlesinger selected Nilsson’s cover of Fred Neil’s song over Nilsson’s own original composition, ‘I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City’, as Midnight Cowboy‘s featured theme. Upon the song’s subsequent re-release as a single in 1969, in tandem with the movie’s opening, Nilsson secured his first US Top 10 hit.

“Nilsson’s cover recording also became a global success, charting in the UK Top-30 and topping the Canadian singles chart. ‘Everybody’s Talkin” also won for Nilsson the 1970 Grammy award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.”

Nilsson, “Everybody’s Talkin'” from Midnight Cowboy (1969):

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