Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Aretha Franklin

(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Carole King (1967).
Hit versions by Aretha Franklin (US #8/R&B #2 1967), Celine Dion (MOR #31 1995), Mary J. Blige (R&B #39/UK #23 1995).
Also recorded by Carole King (1971).

From the wiki: “Written by the celebrated partnership of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, ‘You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)’ was inspired by Atlantic Records co-owner and producer Jerry Wexler. As recounted in his autobiography, Wexler, a student of African-American musical culture, had been mulling over the concept of the ‘natural man’, when he drove by Goffin on the streets of New York. Wexler shouted out to him he wanted a ‘natural woman’ song for Aretha Franklin’s next album. In thanks, Goffin and King granted Wexler a co-writing credit. Franklin’s recording features all three Franklin sisters, including Erma and Carolyn singing backup. Erma had a record deal in the ’60s, but didn’t have much success. Her biggest hit was her 1967 original recording of ‘Piece Of My Heart‘, made famous by Janis Joplin.”

Respect

Written and originally recorded by Otis Redding (1965).
Hit version by Aretha Franklin (US #1/UK #10 1967).

From the wiki: “Essentially a ballad, ‘Respect’ was written by Otis Redding for Speedo Sims, who intended to record it with his band, the Singing Demons, but was unable to produce a good version. Redding then decided to sing the song himself, which Speedo agreed to. (Redding also promised to credit Speedo on the liner notes, but this never happened.)

Chain of Fools

Inspired by “Pains of Life” by Rev. Elijah Fair & The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio (1967).
Hit version by Aretha Franklin (US #2/R&B #1 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Chain of Fools’ was inspired by the gospel song ‘Pains of Life’, released earlier in 1967 by the obscure Houston, TX, Gospel group Elijah Fair & The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio. ‘Pains of Life’ has the same melody as the later song; the chorus, ‘Pain, Pain, Pain’, is echoed as ‘Chain, Chain, Chain’ in the Franklin recording. ‘Pains of Life’ first appeared on the Feron record label almost a full year before Franklin belted out her big 1967 hit. ‘Chain Of Fools’ is credited to Don Covay and was produced by Jerry Wexler for Atlantic Records. (Covay’s father was a Baptist minister, so, he might have been familiar with the Gospel music scene.)”

Try a Little Tenderness

First recorded by Roy Noble Orchestra (1932).
Hit versions by Ruth Etting (US #16 1933), Ted Lewis & His Band (US #6 1933), Aretha Franklin (US #100 1962), Otis Redding (US #25/R&B #4/UK #26 1966), Three Dog Night (US #29 1969).
Also recorded by Little Miss Cornshucks (1951), Sam Cooke (1964).
Also performed by Tom Jones (1969), Paul Giamatti & Andre Braugher (2000).

From the wiki: “‘Try a Little Tenderness’ is a song written by Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly, a British songwriting team who often collaborated with a third composer – in this case the American, Harry Woods. The song was first recorded on December 8, 1932 by the Ray Noble Orchestra (with vocals by Val Rosing) followed in early 1933 by Ruth Etting’s first charting version. The song quickly became a standard. Subsequent productions were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Frankie Laine, Earl Grant, Nina Simone, Etta James and others – including a discovery by Atlantic Records founder, Ahmet Ertegun: Little Miss Cornshucks.

Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)

Co-written and first recorded by Stevie Wonder (1967, released 1977).
Hit versions by Aretha Franklin (US #3/R&B #1 1973 |UK #24 1974), Luther Vandross (US #87/R&B #5 1984), Basia (US #33 1989), Miki Howard (R&B #3/UK #67 1990).

From the wiki: “‘Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)’ was written by Morris Broadnax, Clarence Paul, and Stevie Wonder. The song was originally recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967, but it was not released until appearing on the 1977 anthology album Looking Back.

“Wonder played Aretha Franklin the song in 1973, and she knew how to ‘take’ someone else’s song (as she had already done with Otis Redding’s ‘Respect‘). Produced by Franklin, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler, ‘Until You Come Back’ became Franklin’s second-highest charting Pop song of the ’70s. When her recording reached its highest position at #3, Franklin became the first artist to record singles that peaked at each of #s 1-10 on the Billboard Hot 100. (Marvin Gaye became the first male artist to achieve the ‘occupy-all-10’ when ‘Sexual Healing’ reached #3 in 1982.)

“Other popular recordings of ‘Until You Come Back to Me’ include the Luther Vandross medley of ‘Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me’ (1984), Basia’s 1989 recording for her second album, London Warsaw New York, and Miki Howard’s cover in 1990.”

Everchanging Times

First recorded by Sideah Garrett (1987).
Hit version by Aretha Franklin feat. Michael McDonald (MOR #11/R&B #19 1992).

From the wiki: “‘Everchanging Times’ was co-written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager (‘That’s What Friends Are For‘) and first recorded by Sideah Garrett for the Baby Boom movie soundtrack.”

Let It Be

First recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1969).
First released by Aretha Franklin (1970).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #3/CAN #4/IRE #1/MOR #1/GER #2 1970), Ferry Aid (UK #1 1987).

From the wiki: “‘Let It Be’ was written by Paul McCartney (but credited to Lennon-McCartney), recorded by The Beatles, and released in March 1970 as a single and (in an alternate mix) as the title track of the group’s album Let It Be. But, The Beatles weren’t the first to release this song; Aretha Franklin was. The Queen of Soul recorded it in December, 1969, and it was released on her album This Girl’s In Love With You (but not as a single) in January, 1970, two months before The Beatles released their recording in the US and UK.

Save Me

Based on “Help Me (Get the Feeling)” by Ray Sharpe & The King Curtis Orchestra (1966).
Also recorded (as “Help Me”) by Owen Gray (1966).
Inspired by “Gloria” by Them (1964).
Hit album version by Aretha Franklin (1967).
Also recorded by Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger With The Trinity (1968), Nina Simone (1969).
Also recorded (as “Instant Groove”) by King Curtis (1969).

From Vinyl Witness: “One of the more interesting musical reinventions in 60′s Soul & Pop is ‘Help Me’ by Ray Sharpe with the King Curtis Orchestra. The track is revered among collectors as one of the first appearances by a young James ‘Jimi’ Marshall Hendrix on guitar. Jimi Hendrix at the time was in King Curtis’s band, who backed Sharpe on this track. In addition to the early notoriety, the song went on to have unexpected second and third lives.

“‘Help Me’ began as a simple progression from King Curtis, Atlantic Records’ go-to band leader at the time. It was based on the recent hit, ‘Gloria‘, by Them.

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