Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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1087 total songs ... and counting!

I Love How You Love Me

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.

Count on Me

Written and first recorded by Jesse Barish (1978).
Hit version by Jefferson Starship (US #8/CAN #9 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Count On Me’ was a 1978 song and single by Jefferson Starship for the album Earth, written and first recorded by songwriter Jesse Barish. The Jefferson Starship single gave Starship their second US Top-10 hit of the ‘Seventies, after their 1975 hit, ‘Miracles’.

“Barish played flute with the seminal experimental band The Orkustra in San Francisco in the mid 60’s and also played flute with John Phillips on John’s Wolf King of L.A. tour. In 1971 Jesse was signed to Shelter Records by Denny Cordell and released the album Jesse, Wolff and Whings with guitarist Billy Wolff and drummer Kevin Kelly. Landing in Marin County in the early ’70s, Jesse became friends with Marty Balin who would go on to record ‘Count On Me’ with Jefferson Starship (among other songs) and, in 1980, ‘Hearts’ on Balin’s first solo album for EMI Records.”

So Nice (Summer Samba)

First recorded (as “Samba De Verão”) by Eumir Deodato (1964).
First vocal recording by Marcos Valle (1965).
Hit versions by The Walter Wanderley Trio (US #26/MOR #3 1966), Johnny Mathis (MOR #17 1966), Connie Francis (MOR #17 1966), Vicki Carr (MOR #32 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Summer Samba’ (also known as ‘So Nice’ or its original Portuguese title, ‘Samba de Verão’) is a 1964 Bossa nova song by Brazilian composer Marcos Valle, with English-language lyrics by Norman Gimbel; the original Portuguese lyrics came from Paulo Sérgio Valle, brother to the composer. Brazilian musician, arranger and producer Eumir Deodato, a musical autodidact, starting with the accordion at age 12, first recorded the song in 1964.

“The song was first popularized by the Walter Wanderley Trio in 1966 — the album Rain Forest. Also reaching the U.S. MOR chart in 1966 with versions by Johnny Mathis, Connie Francis, and Vikki Carr. In fact, at least one source claims that three different versions were on the Billboard charts at the same time in 1966. Allmusic has said of Wanderley’s version, ‘His recording … is regarded as perhaps a more definitive Bossa tune than ‘Girl From Ipanema’.’ Wanderley’s version was the biggest seller in the U.S., reaching #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966, (#3 on the MOR chart).”

Moody Blue

Written and first recorded by Mark James (1975).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #32/C&W #1 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Moody Blue’, made famous by Elvis Presley, was written and first recorded by Mark James who also penned Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds‘. ‘Moody Blue’ was Presley’s last #1 hit in his lifetime, topping the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1977.

“Presley recorded his version in February 1976, in the Jungle Room of his Graceland home. The only time Elvis performed the song in its entirety was on February 21, 1977 at a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had attempted to perform the song February 20 at the same venue but revealed to the crowd that he had completely forgotten the lyrics; he returned on February 21, lead sheet in hand, and performed the song with his eyes glued to the lyrics.”

You Only Live Twice

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”.

(Just Like) Starting Over

First recorded (as a demo titled “My Life”) by John Lennon (1980).
Hit version by John Lennon (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1/AUS #1 1980).

From the wiki: “‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ was written and performed by John Lennon for his album, Double Fantasy. Although its origins were in unfinished demo compositions like ‘Don’t Be Crazy’ and ‘My Life’, it was one of the last songs to be completed in time for the Double Fantasy album sessions. ‘We didn’t hear it until the last day of rehearsal,’ producer Jack Douglas said in 2005. Lennon finished the song while on holiday in Bermuda, and recorded it at The Hit Factory in New York City just weeks later.

“The original title was to be ‘Starting Over’. ‘(Just Like)’ was added at the last minute because a country song of the same title had recently been released by Tammy Wynette. While commercial releases of the song (original 45rpm singles, LP’s and Compact Discs) run a length of three minutes and 54 seconds, a promotional 12” vinyl single originally issued to radio stations features a longer fade-out, officially running at four minutes and 17 seconds. This version is highly sought by collectors.

“It became Lennon’s biggest solo American hit, staying at #1 for five weeks.”

Pleasant Valley Sunday

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.”

Take Good Care of My Baby

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.”

Go Away Little Girl

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.

No More Drama (ref. “Nadia’s Theme”)

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.

Sugartime

Co-written and first recorded by Charlie Phillips (1957).
Hit versions by The McGuire Sisters (US #1 1957), Johnny Cash (C&W #13 1961).

From the wiki: “‘Sugartime’ was written by Charlie Phillips and Odis Echols, and was first recorded in 1957 by Phillips with Buddy Holly on guitar and production by Norman Petty. The biggest hit version was also recorded in 1957, by the McGuire Sisters who topped the charts with the song in 1958. In 1961, the song briefly returned to the Country charts in a version by Johnny Cash he first recorded for Sun Records in 1958.”

Yakety Sax

Written and first recorded by “Boots” Randolph (1958).
Hit versions by “Boots” Randolph (US #35 1963).
Also recorded as “Yakety Axe” by Chet Atkins (C&W #4 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Yakety Sax’ was jointly composed by James Q. ‘Spider’ Rich and Homer ‘Boots’ Randolph III. The selection, which includes pieces of assorted fiddle tunes, was originally composed by Rich for a performance at a venue called The Armory in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Randolph’s recording was inspired by a sax solo in the Leiber and Stoller song ‘Yakety Yak’, recorded in 1958 by The Coasters. Randolph first recorded ‘Yakety Sax’ that year for RCA Victor, but it did not become a hit until after his 1963 re-recording for Monument Records.

A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

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.

On the Way to the Sky

Co-written and first recorded by Carole Bayer-Sager (1981).
Hit version by co-writer Neil Diamond (US #27/MOR #4 1982).

From the wiki: “‘On the Way to the Sky’ was written by Neil Diamond and Carole Bayer Sager, and was first recorded and released by Bayer-Sager in 1981 on her album Sometimes Late At Night.”

Endless Love

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.

A Little Bit More

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.”

Daddy’s Home

Based on “A Thousand Miles Away” by The Heartbeats (US #52/R&B #5 1956).
Hit versions by Shep & the Limelites (US #2/R&B #4 1961), Cliff Richard (US #23/MOR #3/UK #2 1981).

From the wiki: “‘A Thousand Miles Away’, written by James Sheppard, was recorded in 1956 by the Doo-wop group The Heartbeats (who were discovered by William Miller, A&R man for Hull Records, who also received a co-writing credit). Sheppard wrote the song after his ex-girlfriend moved away to Texas. He would go on to form the group Shep & the Limelites in 1960, at which point he adapted his original song into a new one, titled ‘Daddy’s Home’. Kahl Music, publisher of ‘A Thousand Miles Away’, sued Keel Music, publisher of ‘Daddy’s Home’, for copyright violation. Keel eventually lost, and this resulted in the end of both the Limelites and of Hull Records in 1966.

“The original ‘A Thousand Miles Away’ enjoyed a revival in the early 1970s when it was included on the American Graffiti motion picture soundtrack. UK singer Cliff Richard scored a Top 10 (and US Top 40) hit with his 1981 cover of ‘Daddy’s Home’.”

Blue Skies

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.

Moody River

Written and first recorded by Chase Webster (1961).
Hit version by Pat Boone (US #1/UK #18 1961).
Also recorded as “Dancing in the Dark” by Big Daddy (UK #27 1985), John Fogerty (2009).

From the wiki: “‘Moody River’ was written by and originally performed by country Rockabilly singer Chase Webster, a a labelmate of Pat Boone’s at Dot Records. It was covered later in 1961 by Boone, and became a #1 hit for him on the Billboard Hot 100. John Fogerty covered the song in the album entitled The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again. In 1985, the US group Big Daddy recorded a parody of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ using the melody and chord changes of ‘Moody River’.”

Wishing on a Star

First recorded by Rose Royce (R&B #52/UK #3 1978).
Other hit versions by Fresh 4 (UK #10 1989), The Cover Girls (US #9/UK #38 1992), Jay Z (UK #13 1998).

From the wiki: “‘Wishing on a Star’ was written by Billie Rae Calvin and produced by famed former-Motown ‘psychedelic shaman’ Norman Whitfield, and was included on Rose Royce’s second album, Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom. The original recording of ‘Wishing on a Star’ was not a big hit in the US, peaking at #52 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, but was a big chart hit in the United Kingdom, reaching #3 in March 1978. A cover by Fresh 4, in 1989, also peaked in the UK Top 10. The Cover Girls released a version in 1992 that peaked in the US Top 10.

Beale Street Blues

First recorded by Prince’s Band (1917).
Popular versions by W.C. Handy (1917), Jelly Roll Morton (1926), Fats Waller & Alberta Hunter (1927), “Big” Joe Turner (1940), Louis Armstrong (1954), Ella Fitzgerald (1958).

From the wiki: “‘Beale Street Blues’ was written in 191 by American composer and lyricist W.C. Handy. The title refers to Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, the main entertainment district for the city’s African American population in the early part of the twentieth century, and a place closely associated with the development of the Blues. ‘Beale Street Blues’ was first popularized for a mass audience when sung on Broadway by Gilda Gray in the 1919 musical revue Schubert’s Gaieties.

“Like many of Handy’s songs, Beale Street Blues is a hybrid of the blues style with the popular ballad style of the day, the opening lyrics following a line pattern typical of Tin Pan Alley songs and the later stanzas giving way to the traditional three-line pattern characteristic of the Blues. The song itself is now in the public domain in the United States, due to expiration of the copyright, though most of the recordings of it are still covered by their own copyrights.”

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

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.

On the Sunny Side of the Street

First recorded by Roger Wolfe Kahn & His Orchestra with Harry Richman (US #13 1930).
Other popular versions by the Ted Lewis Orchestra (US #2 1930), Lionel Hampton (R&B #10 1938), Jo Stafford & the Pied Pipers (US #13 1944), Tommy Dorsey & the Sentimentalists (US #1 1945).
Also recorded by Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong & Jack Teagarden (1938).

From the wiki:”‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ is to Jimmy McHugh, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. But, some authors believe that Fats Waller was the composer, selling his rights for the money. (Fats Waller & His Rhythm performed the song live with Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden in a radio broadcast from Martin Block’s Make Believe Ballroom in October 1938.) The song was first recorded in 1930, in the Broadway musical Lew Leslie’s International Revue starring Harry Richman and Gertrude Lawrence. Richman first recorded ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ in 1930 and a recording by the Ted Lewis Orchestra released the same year came close to topping the Hit Parade.

“Other hit versions were recorded by Lionel Hampton (1938), Jo Stafford & the Pied Pipers (1944), and Tommy Dorsey & the Sentimentalists (1945).”

Sugar Blues

First recorded by Leona Williams & Her Dixie Band (1922).
Popular versions by Clyde McCoy (US #2 1931), Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1936), Ella Fitzgerald & the Chick Webb Orchestra (1940), Johnny Mercer (US #4 1947).

From the wiki: “‘Sugar Blues’ was written in 1920 by Clarence Williams and recorded for the first time by Leona Williams (no relation) and Her Dixie Band in 1922. The song was made popular by Clyde McCoy in 1931, featuring the sound of the growling wah-wah mute. MCcoy recorded it no less than four times, and it became his trademark song. ‘Sugar Blues’ would also be recorded by Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (1936), and Ella Fitzgerald (1940), and chart again on the Hit Parade in 1947 with a vocal cover by noted songwriter-lyricist Johnny Mercer (‘Satin Doll’, ‘Fools Rush In‘, ‘Jeepers Creepers‘).”

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