Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

Help support this site! Consider clicking an ad from time to time. Thanks!

1213 total songs ... and counting!

Free the People

Written and first recorded by Barbara Keith (released Sept 1970).
Hit versions by Delaney & Bonnie (US #75 May 1970), Sherbet (AUS #18 1971).
Also recorded by Barbra Streisand (1971).

From the wiki: “A singer/guitarist and folk-influenced songwriter, Barbara Keith’s curious career began when she was discovered at Greenwich Village’s famous Café Wha?. Her first appearance on record was in 1968, with her background vocals and one of her songs appearing on the self-titled debut from Kangaroo Records. Verve Records released the first of two self-titled albums in 1969.

“Keith would would initially sign with Verve for one album (1969’s Barbara Keith). Some critics fell in love with the album but as far as sales the album went nowhere. Keith switched labels to A&M Records in August/September, 1970. Her first A&M single, ‘Free the People’, was soon covered by Delaney and Bonnie, whose promotional single peaked at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a year later by Barbra Streisand (for her album Stoney End that peaked at #10 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States, her first to reach the top 10 in five years and a marked departure from Streisand’s previous musical direction).

Caravan of Love

First recorded by Isley-Jaspar-Isley (US #51/R&B #1/NETH #21 1985).
Other hit version by The Housemartins (UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #7/NETH #3/SWE #1 1986).

From the wiki: “‘Caravan of Love’ was a 1985 R&B hit written and originally recorded by Isley-Jasper-Isley for their 3+3 album. The song became the trio’s biggest hit, going to #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #51 on the Billboard pop chart in 1985, but would be their only prominent hit before they splintered into solo careers in 1988.

Reach Out for Me

First recorded by Lou Johnson (US #74 1963).
Other hit versions by Dionne Warwick (US #20/R&B #1 1964), Olivia Newton-John (MOR #32/AUS #153 1989).

From the wiki: “‘Reach Out for Me’, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, was first recorded in 1963 by Lou Johnson.

“Johnson came from a musical family, and started singing in gospel choirs in his teens. In 1962, Johnson signed as a solo singer with Bigtop Records, run by the Hill & Range music publishing company in the famed Brill Building. There, he met the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who took a liking to the singer and wrote Johnson’s first single, ‘If I Never Get to Love You’. Neither that song nor his second record, ‘You Better Let Him Go’ (written by Joy Byers), were hits. But, his third single, ‘Reach Out for Me’, another Bacharach-David composition and this time produced by Bacharach, reached #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1963. However, as it rose up the charts, the Bigtop Records collapsed, limiting the record’s success.

This Guy’s in Love with You

First performed by Herb Alpert (1968).
First released (as “That Guy’s in Love”) by Danny Williams (1968).
Hit versions by Herb Alpert (US #1/MOR #1/CAN #1/UK #3/AUS #1 1968), Dionne Warwick (as “This Girl’s in Love with You” US #7/MOR #2/R&B #7/CAN #7 1969).

From the wiki:”‘This Guy’s in Love with You’ was by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. [T]he original performance originated when Herb Alpert, while visiting at Bacharach’s office, asked, ‘Say, Burt, do you happen to have any old compositions lying around that you and Hal never recorded; maybe one I might be able to use?’ Alpert said he made it his practice to ask songwriters that particular question: often a ‘lost pearl’ was revealed. As it happened, Bacharach recalled one, found the lyrics and score sheet in his office filing cabinet, and offered it to Alpert: ‘Here, Herb … you might like this one.’

“Alpert originally sang ‘This Guy’s in Love with You’ on his April 1968 television special, The Beat of the Brass. In response to numerous viewer telephone calls to the network following the broadcast, Alpert decided that the song should be used as the promotional single for the subsequent May 1968 release of the TV special’s soundtrack. But, the first release of ‘This Guy’s in Love with You’, titled ‘That Guy’s in Love’, was in the UK by South African-born singer Danny Williams in late April 1968, for his self-titled album. Williams’ recording, however, was not released as a single.

Hot Rod Lincoln

Based on “Hot Rod Race” by Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys (C&W #5 1951).
Also recorded (as “Hot Rod Race”) by Tiny Hill (US #29/C&W #7 1951).
First recorded as “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Charlie Ryan & the Livingston Brothers (1955).
Also recorded by Charlie Ryan & the Timberline Riders (1960).
Hit versions (as “Hot Rod Lincoln”) by Johnny Bond (US #26 1960), Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen (US #9/MORE #28/CAN #7 1972), Asleep at the Wheel (C&W #65 1988).

From the wiki: “‘Hot Rod Lincoln’ was written by singer-songwriter Charlie Ryan in 1955 as an answer song to the 1951 hit ‘Hot Rod Race’ which describes a race in San Pedro, Los Angeles between two hot rod cars, a Ford and a Mercury, which stay neck-and-neck until both are overtaken by ‘a kid in a hopped-up Model A.’ The importance of ‘Hot Rod Race’, according to Jim Dawson and Steve Propes (in What Was the First Rock ‘n’ Roll Record?), lies in the fact that ‘it introduced automobile racing into popular music and underscored the car’s relevance to American culture.’

“Written by George Wilson, ‘Hot Rod Race’ became a major hit for Arkie Shibley and his Mountain Dew Boys, staying on the Country & Western chart for seven weeks, peaking at #5 in 1951. Tiny Hill also released a cover version in 1951 that not only charted C&W but crossed over to the Billboard pop music chart where it peaked at #29.

“The song ‘Hot Rod Race’ ends with:

When it flew by us, I turned the other way.
The guy in Mercury had nothing to say,
For it was a kid, in a hopped-up Model A.

“These lyrics set the stage for ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’, the ‘answer song’ written in 1955 by Charlie Ryan. ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’ is sung from the perspective of this third driver, whose own hot rod is a Ford Model A with ‘… eight cylinders; uses them all [and] overdrive, just won’t stall / With a 4-barrel carb and a dual exhaust, with 4.11 gears you can really get lost / It’s got safety tubes, but I ain’t scared / The brakes are good, tires fair.’

“Ryan’s original rockabilly version of the song was released in 1955 by Charley Ryan & the Livingston Bros. Ryan recorded a second version in 1959, credited to Charlie Ryan & the Timberline Riders. Ryan based the description of the eponymous car on his own hot rod, built on a 1948 12-cylinder Lincoln chassis with a 1930 Ford Model A body fitted to it, which he had raced against a Cadillac sedan in Lewiston, ID, driven by a friend but changing the locale to Grapevine Hill to fit it within the narrative of ‘Hot Rod Race’.

“Another cover of ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’, recorded by country musician Johnny Bond in 1960, was the first charting version of the song. The 1971 version by country-rock band Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, released as the second promotional single from the album Lost in the Ozone, became the most successful version of ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, #28 Adult Contemporary, #7 in Canada, and was ranked #69 on the U.S. Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1972.”

Tiny Hill, “Hot Rod Race” (1951):

Charlie Ryan & the Livingston Brothers, “Hot Rod Lincoln” (1955):

Charlie Ryan & the Timberline Riders, “Hot Rod Lincoln” (1960):

Johnny Bond, “Hot Rod Lincoln” (1960):

Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, “Hot Rod Lincoln” (1972):

With a Little Help from My Friends

First recorded by The Beatles (1967).
First single release by The Young Idea (UK #10 1967).
Other hit single versions by Joe Cocker (US #68/UK #1 1968), The Beatles (US #71/UK #63 1978), Wet Wet Wet (UK #1/IRE #1/FRA #3/GER #3 1988), Sam & Mark (UK #1 2004).

From the wiki: “‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and first appeared on the Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Not one of that album’s promotional single releases, the song was first released as single by British singers The Young Idea in 1967.

“A subsequent recording of the track by Joe Cocker – a radical re-arrangement of the original, including an extended instrumental intro (featuring keyboardist Tommy Eyre and guitarist Jimmy Page) – became a hit single in 1968 and an anthem for the Woodstock era. In 1978, the Beatles’ recording, paired with ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, was reissued as a single.

(The) Marvelous Toy

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.’

Sixteen Tons

Written and first recorded by Merle Travis (1946).
Other hit versions by Johnny Desmond (US #17 1955),Tennessee Ernie Ford (US #1/C&W #1/UK #1 1955), Frankie Laine (UK #10 1956).
Also recorded by The Weavers (1955), B.B. “Blues Boy” King and His Orchestra (B-side 1956).

From the wiki: “‘Sixteen Tons’ was written in 1946 by Merle Travis about a coal miner, based on life in the coal mines of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. First recorded in Hollywood, CA, in 1946, ‘Sixteen Tons’ was released in July 1947 by Capitol on Travis’s album Folk Songs of the Hills, widely regarded as one of Travis’ finest achievements. The album became a gold record.

“According to Travis, the lyric from the chorus, ‘another day older and deeper in debt’, was a phrase often used by his coal miner father. This, and the line ‘I owe my soul to the company store’, are a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers that could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay. In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices in the 1960s.

Fanfare for the Common Man

First performed by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Aaron Copland (1943).
Hit version by Emerson, Lake & Palmer (UK #2 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ was written on request from Eugene Goossens, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, in response to the US entry into the Second World War. During the First World War, the Cincinnati orchestra had asked British composers for a fanfare to begin each orchestral concert. It had been so successful that Goossens thought to repeat the procedure in World War II but with American composers.

“In 1942, Copland was commissioned by Goossens to write the fanfare. Copland recalled he was inspired by a speech US Vice President Henry A. Wallace had given that spring at the Free World Association in New York City:

“‘Some have spoken of the American Century,’ Wallace proclaimed. ‘I say that the century on which we are entering, the century which will come out of this war, can be and must be the century of the common man.’

Change of Heart

First released by Samantha Sang (recorded 1977, released B-side 1978).
Hit version by Eric Carmen (US #19/MOR #6/CAN #14 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Change of Heart’ was written by Eric Carmen. It was first recorded in 1977 by Samantha Sang for her album, Emotion, and released as a single in April 1978 as the B-side to ‘You Keep Me Dancing’ (US #57), the follow-up single to her Top-10 international hit Emotion.

“Carmen released ‘Change of Heart’ in September 1978 as the lead single to Change of Heart, his third solo album (after leaving The Raspberries), with Sang on backing vocals.”

Love for Sale

First recorded by Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians (1930).
Other popular versions by Libby Holman (1931), Sidney Bechet (1947), Billie Holiday (1952), Erroll Garner (1953), Charlie Parker (1954), Ella Fitzgerald (1956), Eartha Kitt (1965), Aretha Franklin (1965), Buddy Rich Big Band (1967), Fine Young Cannibals (1990).

From the wiki: “‘Love for Sale’ was written by Cole Porter from the musical The New Yorkers, satirizing various ‘New York’ types, from high society matrons to con men, bootleggers, thieves and prostitutes during Prohibition. The musical opened on Broadway on December 8, 1930 and closed in May 1931 after 168 performances. The pit orchestra featured a young group that had never before appeared on Broadway as the stage band, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, and which also featured the band’s vocalists, The Three Warings, in supporting roles as ‘Three Girl Friends’. ‘Love for Sale’, the most well-known song from the show, was written from the viewpoint of a prostitute advertising ‘love for sale’. Porter’s biographer George Eells refers to it as ‘the minor-keyed song whose lyrics were judged too raw for radio audiences …’

“When the song was first published in 1930, a newspaper called it ‘bad taste’. Radio stations avoided it. Despite this, popular Hit Parade recordings were released, first, in December 1930 by Waring’s Pennsylvanians & the Three Waring Girls (who had performed in the stage musical) and, then, by vocalist Libby Holman in February 1931.

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

First recorded by Klaatu (US #62/CAN #45 1976).
Other hit version by The Carpenters (US #32/MOR #18/UK #9/CAN #9/IRE #1 1977).

From the wiki: “‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’, written by Terry Draper, John Woloschuk, was first recorded by Canadian band Klaatu in 1976 for release on their debut album 3:47 EST. John Woloschuk, a member of Klaatu and one of the song’s composers, recalled:

‘The idea for this track was suggested by an actual event that is described in The Flying Saucer Reader, a book by Jay David published in 1967. In March 1953 an organization known as the ‘International Flying Saucer Bureau’ sent a bulletin to all its members urging them to participate in an experiment termed ‘World Contact Day’ whereby, at a predetermined date and time, they would attempt to collectively send out a telepathic message to visitors from outer space. The message began with the words … ‘Calling occupants of interplanetary craft!”

“After its release, the Klaatu recording would open night transmissions of the pirate radio station Radio Caroline. Even more bizarre, the song got caught up in rumors that it presaged a Beatles reunion – that ‘Klaatu’ was just a pseudonym for the Fab Four’s return to the recording studio (and possible reunion concert).

Stop and Smell the Roses

First recorded by Henson Cargill (recorded 1973, C&W #29 1974).
Other hit version by co-writer Mac Davis (US #9/MOR #1/C&W #40/CAN #3 1974).

From the wiki: “‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ was written by songwriter Mac Davis (he wrote ‘In the Ghetto’ for Elvis Presley) and the noted bandleader-trumpeter Doc Severinsen. It was first recorded by Henson Cargill (best known for the socially controversial 1968 Country #1 hit ‘Skip a Rope’) in late 1973 on his album This Is Henson Cargill Country, and then released in May 1974 as something of a come-back single for the performer, peaking at #29 on the Country singles chart.

“Co-writer Davis released his arrangement in March 1974 as the title track for the album Stop and Smell the Roses. Promoted as a single beginning in August 1974, ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ peaked at #40 on the Country singles chart but went Top-10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Canadian RPM music charts and topped the MOR chart in the US.”

Too Much

First recorded by Bernard Hardison (1954).
Also recorded by Frankie Castro (1956).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #1/C&W #3/R&B #3 1957).

From the wiki: “Written by Lee Rosenberg and Bernard Weinman, ‘Too Much’ was built around a teen catchphrase (‘Aw, man, that’s too much!’). First recorded by Bernard Hardison (‘with band’) in 1954, it had no chart impact – possibly due to its lyrics being considered ‘too suggestive’. Recorded again two years later by Frankie Castro for Mercury Records, it again failed to chart – but did garner a ‘rave’ review in Billboard:

‘A personality-packed side with a subtle r&r back-up. For junior hipsters.’ – Billboard, May 19, 1956

“But, covered (with lyrics ‘sanitized’) by Elvis Presley, in 1957, ‘Too Much’ topped the Billboard Hot 100. It also went Top-5 on both the Country and R&B music charts.”

Hello Dolly!

Based on “Sunflower” by The Russ Morgan Orchestra (US #5 1949).
Hit versions by Carol Channing (1964), Louis Armstrong (demo recording US #1/MOR #1 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Hello, Dolly!’, the title song from the popular 1964 musical of the same name. was written by Jerry Herman (music and lyrics), who also wrote the scores for many other popular musicals including Mame and La Cage aux Folles.

“In December 1963, a month prior to the show’s opening and cast album release, at the behest of his manager, Louis Armstrong produced a demonstration recording of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ for the song’s publisher to use to promote the show. Hello, Dolly! opened on January 16, 1964 at the St. James Theatre in New York City, and it quickly became a major success (2844 total performances, through December 1970). When the original cast album was released, it topped the Billboard Album chart for seven weeks and was the top Album of the Year on Billboard’s year-end chart.

“As successful as the stage show and title song itself was to become, the song ‘Hello, Dolly!’ became caught up in a lawsuit which could have endangered timely plans for bringing the musical to the silver screen. Mack David, an Academy Award-nominated composer (‘Walk on the Wild Side’, ‘The Ballad of Cat Ballou’) also known for his compositions for television (‘Casper, the Friendly Ghost’), sued for infringement of copyright, because the first four bars of Herman’s show number, ‘Hello, Dolly!’, were the exact same as those in the refrain of David’s song ‘Sunflower’ from 1948. As Herman recounts in his memoirs, he had never heard ‘Sunflower’ before the lawsuit, and wanted a chance to defend himself in court. But, for the sake of those involved in the show and the potential film, he reluctantly agreed to pay a settlement before the case would have gone to trial.

It Had to Be You

First recorded by Sam Lanin & His Roseland Orchestra (1924).
Hit versions by Isham Jones (US #1 1924), Dick Haymes & Helen Forrest with Victor Young & His Orchestra (US #4 1944).
Also recorded by Harry Connick Jr. (1989).

From the wiki: “‘It Had to Be You’ was written by Isham Jones, with lyrics by Gus Kahn. Jones and Kahn wrote the tune in 1924, shortly after Jones’ wife bought him a baby grand piano for his 30th birthday and he stayed up all night noodling around until he came up with a few melodies, one of them being ‘It Had To Be You.’ Composer Johnny Mercer, no slouch himself at writing lyrics (‘Blues in the Night‘, ‘Jeepers Creepers‘, ‘Satin Doll’), has called ‘It Had to Be You’ the ‘greatest popular song ever written.’

“The first recording of the song occurred on March 20, 1924 and was produced by Sam Lanin & His Roseland Orchestra. Jones’ own recording, produced on April 24, 1924, became a #1 hit later that year. The song charted again in 1944, recorded by Dick Haymes and Helen Forrest with the Victor Young orchestra.

The Entertainer

First performed by Scott Joplin (1902).
First recorded (as “Easy Winner”) by The Blue Boys (1928).
Also recorded by Joshua Rifkin (1970).
Hit version by Marvin Hamlisch (US #3/MOR #1 1973).

From the wiki: “‘The Entertainer’, a classic piano rag, was composed in 1902 by Scott Joplin. It was sold first as sheet music. Later, in the 1910s, it enjoyed sales as a ‘piano roll’ to be played/reproduced on player pianos. It was not until 1928 when ‘The Entertainer’ was first recorded by blues and ragtime musicians, The Blue Boys, playing on mandolin and guitar. The Blue Boys were Matthew Prater and Napoleon Hayes, from Vicksburg, MS, and they combined their recording into a medley with ‘Creole Belle’, titling it ‘Easy Winner’.

Yesterday, When I Was Young

First recorded (as “Hier Encore”) by Charles Aznavour (1964).
Hit English-language version by Roy Clark (US #19/C&W #9/MOR #6/CAN #7 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Yesterday, When I Was Young’ was originally written and recorded as ‘Hier Encore’ (‘Yesterday Again’) in France by songwriter Charles Aznavour and released in September 1964. It was subsequently released in Italian as ‘Ieri Si’, in Danish as ‘Hvor tiden går’, in Japanese ‘帰り来ぬ青春’ [‘Returning Youth’], in Spanish as ‘Ayer Aún’, ‘Eilen kun mä tiennyt en’ in Finnish and, in 1969, in English as ‘Yesterday, When I Was Young’. It is considered one of Aznavour’s greatest hits.

“The English-language lyrics, written by Herbert Kretzmer, tell of a man reflecting on his life. Country singer Roy Clark covered ‘Yesterday, When I Was Young’ in 1969. His version became his biggest hit up to that time on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, peaking at #9 and becoming his only Top-40 pop hit, peaking at #19. Clark performed the song at Mickey Mantle’s funeral in 1995, at Mantle’s personal request.”

Oh Happy Day

First recorded (as “Happy Day”) by The Trinity Choir (1913).
Hit versions by The Edwin Hawkins Singers (recorded 1967 |US #4/UK #2/CAN #2/IRE #2/GER #1 1969), Glen Campbell (US #40/MOR #7/C&W #25/CAN #11 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Oh Happy Day’ is a 1967 gospel music arrangement of an 18th-century hymn with long pedigree. It was written in the mid-18th century (‘O happy day, that fixed my choice’) by English clergyman Philip Doddridge (based on Acts 8:35) set to an earlier melody (1704) by J. A. Freylinghausen. By the mid-19th century it had been given a new melody by Edward F. Rimbault, who also added a chorus, and the song was commonly used for baptismal or confirmation ceremonies in the UK and US. Hawkins’ new arrangement contained only the repeated Rimbault refrain, with all of the original verses omitted.

“The first known recording dates from July 17, 1913, on Victor 17499, by the Trinity Choir.

Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Poo)

First recorded by Hal Kemp & His Orchestra feat. The Smoothies (US #2 1939).
Other hit version Kay Kyser (US #1 1939).
Also recorded by Frankie Howerd (1949).

From the wiki: “‘Three Little Fishies’ was written by Hal Kemp Orchestra saxophonist ‘Saxie’ Dowell, with lyrics by Josephine Carringer and Bernice Idins, and was first recorded in 1939 by Hal Kemp & His Orchestra with vocals by The Smoothies.The song tells the story of three fishes who defy their mother’s command of swimming only in a meadow, by swimming over a dam and on out to sea, where they encounter a shark, which the fish describe as a whale. They flee for their lives and return to the meadow in safety.

“The song was a US #2 hit in 1939 for Kemp but topped the Hit Parade when recorded by Kay Kyser, with vocals by Ginny Simms, Harry Babbitt, Sully Mason and Ish-Kabibble. ‘Three Little Fishies’ was released in the UK as a 78 by British comedian Frankie Howerd, on the short-lived UK Harmony label, in 1949.”

Over and Over

First recorded (as a B-side) by Bobby Day (US #41/R&B #1 1958).
Also recorded by Thurston Harris (US #96 1958).
Other hit version by The Dave Clark Five (US #1/UK #45 1965).
Also recorded by The Righteous Brothers (1965).

From the wiki: “‘Over and Over’ was written by Robert James Byrd and was recorded by him in 1958 using his stage name, Bobby Day (a name he earlier used when a member of the original ‘Bob & Earl’ duo until parting ways in 1957). Day’s version entered the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958, first as the B-side to the hit single ‘Rockin’ Robin’ and, soon after, as an A-side, the same week a version of the same song by Thurston Harris (who had covered Day’s ‘Little Bitty Pretty One‘ the previous year with chart success) entered the chart. Day’s version would reach #41 on the Hot 100 but would top the R&B chart; Harris’ single peaked on the Hot 100 at #96.

Hello Stranger

Written and first recorded by Barbara Lewis (US #3/R&B #1 1963).
Other hit versions by Fire & Rain (US #100 1973), Yvonne Elliman (US #15/R&B #57/MOR #1/UK #26/NETH #20/NZ #12 1977), Carrie Lucas & The Whispers (R&B #20 1985).
Also recorded by Martha & the Vandellas (1963), The Capitols (1966), The Supremes & The Four Tops (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Hello Stranger’ was written by Barbara Lewis herself, who was originally inspired to write the while working gigs in Detroit with her musician father: ‘I would make the circuit with my dad and people would yell out: ‘Hey stranger, hello stranger, it’s been a long time’.’ The song is notable because its title comprises the first two words of the lyrics but is never at any point repeated throughout the remainder of the song.

“Lewis recorded ‘Hello Stranger’ at Chess Studios in Chicago in January 1963. The track’s producer Ollie McLaughlin recruited The Dells to provide the background vocals. The arrangement by Riley Hampton – then working with Etta James – featured a signature organ riff provided by keyboardist John Young. The track was completed after thirteen takes. Lewis would recall that, on hearing the playback of the finished track, Dells member Chuck Barksdale ‘kept jumping up and down and saying, ‘It’s a hit, it’s a hit.’…I didn’t really know. It was all new to me.’

Love Letters in the Sand

First recorded by The Majestic Dance Orchestra (1931).
Inspired by “The Spanish Cavalier” (c. 1881).
Hit versions by The Ted Black Orchestra (US #6 1931), Pat Boone (US #1/R&B #12/UK #2 1957), Vince Hill (UK #23 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Love Letters in the Sand’ was written by J. Fred Coots and the lyrics by Nick Kenny and Charles Kenny and was first published in 1931. The song was ‘inspired’ by an 1881 composition, ‘The Spanish Cavalier’, by William D. Hendrickson. First recorded by The Majestic Dance Orchestra, featuring vocalist Helen Rowland, on August 27, 1931, ‘Love Letters in the Sand’ was also recorded the following day (August 28, 1931) by the Ted Black Orchestra whose arrangement peaked at #6 on the Hit Parade.

Body and Soul

First recorded by Jack Hylton (Feb 1930).
Hit versions by Libby Holman (US #3 1930), Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra (US #1 1930), Louis Armstrong (US #7 1932), Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse (US #87 2011).
Also recorded by Coleman Hawkins (1939), Billie Holiday (1957).

From the wiki: “The popular jazz standard, ‘Body and Soul’, was written in 1930 by Johnny Green (music) with lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton. It was composed in New York City for the British actress and singer Gertrude Lawrence, who introduced it first on stage to London audiences. ‘Body and Soul’ would also be first recorded in London by the orchestra of Jack Hylton, the ‘British King of Jazz’, on February 7, 1930.

“In the US, the song was first performed on stage by Libby Holman in 1930 Broadway revue, Three’s a Crowd. The tune grew quickly in popularity and, by the end of 1930, at least 11 American bands had recorded it, including a release by Holman with the Brunswick Records studio orchestra. The Paul Whiteman Orchestra, featuring Jack Fulton vocals, recorded the most popular version; Louis Armstrong would the first jazz musician to record ‘Body and Soul’, in October 1932.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close