Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Barbra Streisand

Memory

First recorded by Elaine Paige (UK #6 1981).
Similar to “Bolero in Blue” by Larry Clinton (1940).
Other hit versions by Barbra Streisand (US #52/MOR #9/UK #34 1982), Barry Manilow (US #39/MOR #8 1982), Elaine Paige rerecording (UK #36 1998).

From the wiki: “‘Memory’, often incorrectly called ‘Memories’, is a show tune from the 1981 musical Cats. Its writers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cats director Trevor Nunn, received the 1981 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. (Prior to its inclusion in Cats, the tune was earmarked for earlier Lloyd Webber projects, including a ballad for Perón in Evita, and as a song for Max in his original 1970s draft of Sunset Boulevard.)

“The lyric was based on T. S. Eliot’s poems ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. Composer Lloyd Webber feared that the tune sounded too similar to Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ and to a work by Puccini, and also that the opening – the haunting main theme – closely resembled the flute solo (improvised by Bud Shank in the studio) from The Mamas & the Papas’ 1965 song ‘California Dreamin””. He asked his father’s opinion; according to Lloyd Webber, his father responded ‘It sounds like a million dollars!’ While Lloyd Webber does acknowledge Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, there is no mention of similarity to ‘Bolero in Blue’ written by Larry Clinton, replicating note-for-note the first several measures from Clinton’s composition.

Stoney End

Written and first recorded by Laura Nyro (1966).
Also recorded by The Blossoms (1967), The Stone Poneys (1968), Peggy Lipton (US #121 1968).
Hit version by Barbra Streisand (US #6/MOR #2/CAN #5/UK #27 1971).

From the wiki: “Laura Nyro (1947–1997) was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs.

“Nyro’s style was a hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, show tunes, rock, and soul. As a child, she taught herself piano, read poetry, and listened to her mother’s records by Leontyne Price, Billie Holiday and classical composers such as Ravel and Debussy. She composed her first songs at age eight. With her family, she spent summers in the Catskill Mountains, where her father played the trumpet at resorts.

“‘Stoney End’ was first recorded by Nyro in 1966 and released in 1967 on the Verve/Folkway album More Than a New Discovery (later reissued as Laura Nyro, 1969, and as The First Songs, 1973). For the single version of ‘Stoney End,’ Nyro was forced to rework some of the lyrics that referred to the Bible, because Verve felt it would cause too much controversy.

Crying Time

Written and first recorded by Buck Owens (B-side 1964).
Hit version by Ray Charles (US #6/R&B #5/UK #50 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Crying Time’ is a song from 1964 written by Buck Owens. Owens recorded the original version of his song and released it as the B-side to ‘I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail’ in 1964. A cover version of ‘Crying Time’ was then recorded in 1965 by Ray Charles, featuring backing vocals by the Jack Halloran Singers and The Raelettes. His version proved to be a hit strong Top 40 and R&B hit. Charles’ version of ‘Crying Time’ won two Grammy Awards in 1967, in the categories Best R&B Recording and Best R&B Solo Performance. Charles and Barbra Streisand together performed the song as a duet on her 1973 album Barbra Streisand … And Other Musical Instruments and on the TV special titled the same.”

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

First performed by Judy Garland (1944).
Popular versions by Frank Sinatra (1957), Barbra Streisand (1967), The Pretenders (1987).

From the wiki: “‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ was introduced by Judy Garland in a poignant moment in the 1944 movie musical Meet Me In St. Louis. The filmmakers complained that the first version of the song’s lyrics was too depressing and commissioned a rewrite that became the most popular interpretation.”

Till I Loved You

First performed by Placido Domingo, Dionne Warwick & Gloria Estefan (1988).
Hit versions by Barbra Streisand & Don Johnson (US #25/UK #15 1988), Placido Domingo & Jennifer Rush (UK #24 1989).

From the wiki: “‘Till I Loved You’ was composed for the never-staged musical Goya: A Life in Song, based on the life of the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. The original recording was sung by tenor Plácido Domingo with American singers Dionne Warwick and Gloria Estefan. ‘Till I Loved You’ was subsequently released as a single by Domingo with another collaborator to the album, Jennifer Rush (‘The Power of Love‘).

Sing

First performed by The Kids of Sesame Street (1970).
Hit versions by Barbra Streisand (MOR #28 1972), The Carpenters (US #3/UK #53 1973).

(Above is from a 1971 broadcast of Sesame Street.)

From the wiki: “”Sing” is a popular song created for Sesame Street, written by staff songwriter Joe Raposo for the popular children’s TV show. In its initial appearance, the song was sung by adult human cast members of the show (the most frequent lead singer was Bob McGrath), and Muppets, including Big Bird. Although Barbra Streisand had an Easy Listening hit with ‘Sing’ (in medley with ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’) in 1972 with ‘Sing’, Karen and Richard Carpenter first heard the song as guests on ABC television special Robert Young with the Young in 1973. They loved the song and felt it could be a big hit. ‘Sing’ became the debut single off The Carpenters album Now & Then, released in 1973.”

All I Ask of You

Originally recorded by Sarah Brightman & Cliff Richard (UK #3 1986).
US hit version by Barbra Streisand (US #15 1988).

From the wiki: “‘All I Ask of You’ is a song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of The Phantom of the Opera.

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