Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

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.

“Although it was Seeger and Lee Hays wrote who new lyrics for Lead Belly’s song, turning ‘If It Wasn’t for Dicky’ into ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’, the music was credited to ‘Joel Newman’ and the lyrics to ‘Paul Campbell’, both names being pseudonyms for Howard Richmond, founder of Folkway Publishing, the Weavers’ music publisher. Seeger wrote, ‘Seeger wrote: “Now, who should one credit on this song? The Irish, certainly. Sam Kennedy, who taught it to us. Lead Belly, for adding rhythm and blues chords. Me, for two new words for the refrain. Lee, who wrote seven verses. Fred and Ronnie, for paring them down to five. I know the song publisher, The Richmond Organization, cares.’

“The song was a #3 US hit for Pop singer Jimmie Rodgers in 1957, and also a hit for Frankie Vaughan in the United Kingdom in 1958.”

Lead Belly, “If It Wasn’t for Dickey” (1937):

Jimmie Rodgers, “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” (1957):

Frankie Vaughn, “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” (1958):

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