Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Bing Crosby

Deep in the Heart of Texas

First recorded by Alvino Rey & His Orchestra (US #1 Feb 1942).
Also performed by Gene Autry (1942).
Other hit versions by Ted Weems & His Orchestra with Perry Como (US #23 Feb 1942), Bing Crosby with Woody Herman & His Woodchoppers (US #3 March 1942), Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights (US #7 March 1942), The Merry Macs (US #11 March 1942), Duane Eddy (US #78/UK #19 1962).
Also recorded by Gene Autry (1944), Bob Wills (1955), Ray Charles (1960).

From the wiki: “‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ was written by June Hershey with music by Don Swander, with a title taken from a movie Western of the same name starring Tex Ritter. (The song was not performed in that particular movie, but would make an appearance in the Western movie Heart of the Rio Grande in 1942, sung by movie cowboy Gene Autry.) The first recording was by Alvino Rey on November 21, 1941 that first charted in early 1942. It spent five weeks at #1 on the Hit Parade. The song was covered by Ted Weems & His Orchestra (with Perry Como on vocals) on December 9, 1941 for Decca Records, also released in early 1942 as the flip-side to ‘Ollie Ollie Out’s in Free’.

“Other charting covers in 1942 were recorded by Bing Crosby with Woody Herman’s ‘Woodchoppers’ (#3 in the US but uncharted in the UK because it was banned by the BBC during factory hours to prevent workers being detracted by its infectious handclapping rhythm that would’ve disrupted the war effort), Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights (#7), and The Merry Macs (#11).

“Texas Swing stars, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, covered ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ in 1955. Ray Charles included the song on his album The Genius Hits the Road (1960). Rock ‘n roll guitarist Duane Eddy charted in the UK with his 1962 instrumental recording of ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’.”

Swinging on a Star

First performed and recorded by Bing Crosby (US #1 1944).
Other hit versions by Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva (US #38/UK #7 1963), Spooky & Sue (NL #2 1974).

From the wiki: “The Pop standard ‘Swinging on a Star’ was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke, and was first introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My Way, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.

“Composer Van Heusen was at Crosby’s house one evening for dinner, to discuss a song for the movie. During a meal with the family, one of the children began complained about how he didn’t want to go to school the next day. Crosbyr turned to his son and said to him, ‘If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule. Do you wanna do that?’

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.

They Say It’s Wonderful

First recorded by Bing Crosby (US #12 1946).
Other popular versions by Ethel Merman & Ray Middleton (1946), Frank Sinatra (US# 2 1946), Perry Como (US #4 1946)

From the wiki: “‘They Say It’s Wonderful’ was written by Irving Berlin for the musical Annie Get Your Gun (1946), where it was introduced on Broadway by Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton. The song was first recorded and released on a 78 rpm by Bing Crosby in 1946, a version that say modest chart success. Merman and Middleton released a recorded ‘cast’ version later in 1946. Frank Sinatra and Perry Como both charted in 1946 with covers of ‘They Say It’s Wonderful’.

“In 1979, Merman recorded a ‘camp’ version for The Ethel Merman Disco Album but it was not released until issued as a bonus track on the CD reissue in 2002.”

Harbor Lights

First recorded by Frances Langford (US #6 1937).
Other hit versions by Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye (US #1 1950), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #2 1950), Ray Anthony & His Orchestra (US #4 1950), Bing Crosby (US #8 1950), Dinah Washington (R&B #10 1951), The Platters (US #8/R&B #15/UK #11 1960).

From the wiki: “‘Harbor Lights’ was written by Hugh Williams (pseudonym for Will Grosz) with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, and first recorded by Frances Langford (with Sam Koki & His Islanders) in 1937. The most-popular version was recorded in 1950 by Swing & Sway with Sammy Kaye, lasting 25 weeks on the Billboard chart and peaking at #1. Other charting covers in 1950 were recorded by The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Ray Anthony & His Orchestra, and Bing Crosby. Dinah Washington charted R&B Top 10 in 1951, while The Platters returned ‘Harbor Lights’ to the US Top 40 in 1960.”

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

First recorded by Albert Clough (US #2 1911).
Other popular versions by The Peerless Quartet (US #1 1911), Oliver Hardy & Stan Laurel (1938), Mitch Miller (1961), Timi Yuro (MOR #15 1962).
Also recorded by Bing Crosby (1934).

From the wiki: “‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’ was written by Leo Friedman with lyrics by Beth Slater Whitson. The song was published in 1910 and first recorded by Albert Clough in May, 1911. The Peerless Quartet recorded their version in November, 1911, topping the sheet music chart that year. The song was also comically sung by Oliver Hardy (with Stan Laurel playing the tuba) in the 1938 motion picture Swiss Miss.”

My Melancholy Baby

First recorded by Walter Van Brunt (US #9 1915).
Other hit versions by Gene Austin (US #3 1928), Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra (US #6 1936), Bing Crosby (US #14 1939), Sam Donahue & His Orchestra (US #5 1945), Tommy Edwards (US #26/R&B #27/UK #29 1959).

From the wiki: “‘Melancholy Baby’ was written by Ernie Burnett with lyrics by his wife, Maybelle Watson. First publicly performed (as ‘Melancholy’) in 1912 by William Frawley (‘Fred Mertz’ on I Love Lucy), the song was first recorded in 1915 by Walter Van Brunt, Thomas Edison’s favorite tenor. The song title was changed in ‘My Melancholy Baby’ in 1914. The first popular recording was made by Gene Austin in 1928 (Van Brunt’s popularity was based on sheet-music sales). Teddy Wilson’s 1936 recording featured an 18-year Ella Fitzgerald, who was pulled into the session at the last minute when Billie Holiday couldn’t attend the date.

“Songwriter Burnett was seriously wounded in France during World War I. He lost his memory together with his identity dog-tags. While recuperating in hospital, a pianist entertained the patients with popular tunes including ‘Melancholy Baby’. Burnett rose from his sickbed and exclaimed: ‘That’s my song!’

Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)

First recorded by Irving Aaronson & His Commanders (1928).
Hit versions by The Paul Whiteman Orchestra (US #5 1929), Dorsey Brothers & their Orchestra (US #9 1929).

From the wiki: “‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love’ (also known as ‘Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)’ or simply ‘Let’s Do It’) was written in 1928 by Cole Porter. It was introduced in Porter’s first Broadway success, the musical Paris (1928) by French chanteuse Irène Bordoni for whom Porter had written the musical as a starring vehicle. The song was later used in the English production of Wake Up and Dream (1929) and was also used as the title theme music in the 1933 Hollywood movie, Grand Slam.

“‘Let’s Do It’ was the first of Porter’s famous ‘list songs’, featuring a string of suggestive and droll comparisons and examples, preposterous pairings and double entendres, dropping famous names and events, drawing unexpectedly from highbrow and popular culture.

Jingle Bells

First recorded (as “One Horse Open Sleigh”) by The Edison Male Quartette (1898).
Popular versions by The King Cole Trio (1938), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #5 1941), Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (1943), Primo Scala & The Keynotes (US #10 1948), Les Paul (US #10 1951), The Hysterics (UK #44 1981).

From the wiki: “James Lord Pierpont’s 1857 composition ‘Jingle Bells’ became one of the most performed and most recognizable secular holiday songs ever written, not only in the United States, but around the world. In recognition of this achievement, James Lord Pierpont was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Pierpont wrote it in the 1850s in Medford, Massachusetts as ;The One-horse Open Sleigh’ for the choir of the First Unitarian Church, where his father was pastor. The choir introduced the new song during a Thanksgiving Day service; there was not a single reference to Christmas in the original lyrics. But, due to the public’s enthusiasm, the performance was renewed during that same year’s Christmas celebration. In 1857 the song was copyrighted as ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’. Two years later it was first published as ‘Jingle Bells’ in Savannah, GA, where Pierpont’s brother, John, was pastor. His Unitarian Universalist Church is locally known as ‘The Jingle Bells Church’.

Adeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful)

First recorded by An Anonymous Bell Ringer (1899).
Popular versions by Associated Glee Clubs of America (1925), Bing Crosby (US #45 1960).

From the wiki: “‘Adeste Fideles’ is a Christmas carol which has been attributed to various authors. The English translation of ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ by the English Catholic priest Frederick Oakeley, written in 1841, is widespread in most English speaking countries. The 1925 recording by the Associated Glee Clubs of America was the first electrically-recorded disc recording to create a popular impact, and featured the largest choir (according to Columbia Records) popular music has ever known: some 4,800 voices. Bing Crosby also charted with a version of the traditional hymn, which peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1960.”

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

First performed by Eddie Cantor (1934).
First recorded by Harry Reser (1934).
Popular versions by Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (1943), Perry Como (1951), The Four Seasons (US #23 1963), Bruce Springsteen (1975).

From the wiki: “‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ was written in 1934 by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, and first performed on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in November 1934. The earliest-known recorded version of the song was by banjoist Harry Reser and his band. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours. The 1951 version by Perry Como was the first measurable hit, and in 1963 the Four Seasons version charted at #23 on Billboard. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band recorded a live version in 1975 that was bootlegged to Rock radio stations until it saw its first release in 1982 as part of the Sesame Street compilation album In Harmony 2.”

Little Drummer Boy

First recorded (as “Carol of the Drum”) by The Trapp Family Singers (1954).
Popular versions by The Harry Simone Chorale (1958), Lou Rawls (1967), Bing Crosby & David Bowie (1977).

From the wiki: “‘Little Drummer Boy’ – originally titled ‘Carol of the Drum’ – was written in 1941 by Katherine K. Davis. It was first recorded in 1954 by The Trapp Family Singers during sessions for their albums Christmas With The Trapp Family Singers and Yuletide Songs Of Many Lands, and further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. The original manuscript is headed ‘Czech Carol freely transcribed by K.K.D’, these initials then deleted and replaced with ‘C.R.W. Robinson’, a name under which Davis sometimes published. Although Davis did search far and wide for suitable material, the Czech original has never been identified, though the style is comparable with the Czech ‘Rocking Carol’. ‘Carol of the Drum’ appealed to the Austrian Trapp Family Singers, who first brought the song to wider prominence when they recorded it in 1955, shortly before they retired.”

Silent Night

First recorded (as “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”) by Trompeter Quartett (1892).
First English-language recording by Edison Male Quartette (1905).
Popular versions by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra (US #6 1928), Bing Crosby (US #16 1941), The Ravens (R&B #8 1948), Simon & Garfunkel (as “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night”, 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Silent Night’ (German: ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011. ‘Stille Nacht’ was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village on the Salzach river. In 1859, the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, then serving at Trinity Church, New York City, published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.

Stardust

Co-written and first recorded (as an instrumental) by Hoagy Carmichael (1927).
Hit versions by Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang (US #20 1929), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #1 1930), Bing Crosby (US #5 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #16 1931), Frank Sinatra with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (US #7 1941), Nat “King” Cole (US #79/UK #24 1957), Billy Ward & His Dominoes (US #12/R&B #5/UK #13 1957), Nino Tempo & April Stevens (US #32 1964).
Also recorded by Jon Hendricks (1990).

From the JazzStandards.com: “On October 31, 1927, Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals recorded ‘Stardust’ at the Gennett Records studio in Richmond, Indiana. Hoagy’s ‘pals,’ Emil Seidel and His Orchestra, agreed to record the medium-tempo instrumental in between their Sunday evening and Monday matinee performances in Indianapolis, seventy miles away. In 1928 Carmichael again recorded ‘Stardust,’ this time with lyrics he had written, but Gennett rejected it because the instrumental had sold so poorly. The following year, at Mills Music, Mitchell Parish was asked to set lyrics to coworker Carmichael’s song. The result was the 1929 publication date of ‘Star Dust’ with the music and lyrics we know today.

“According to the Carmichael, inspiration for the song struck while visiting his old university campus. Sitting on a wall reminiscing about the town, his college days, and past romances, he looked up at the starlit sky and whistled ‘Star Dust’. Richard Sudhalter’s biography ( Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael) contends that the melody may have begun with fragments, evolving over months and maybe years, but Carmichael preferred to perpetuate a myth that sweet songs are conceived in romantic settings.

Sweet Georgia Brown

First recorded by Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (US #1 1925).
Also recorded by Ethel Waters (US #6 1925), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #5 1925), Red Nichols & His Orchestra (1930).
Best-known recordings by Bing Crosby (US #5 1932), Stéphane Grappelli & Django Reinhardt (1938), Brother Bones & His Shadows (US #10/R&B #9 1948), Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers (1962).

From the wiki: “”Sweet Georgia Brown” is a Jazz standard and Pop tune written in 1925 by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard (music) and Kenneth Casey (lyrics). It is believed Ben Bernie came up with the concept for the song’s lyrics – although he is not the accredited lyricist – after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown in New York City: Dr. Brown, a longtime member of the State House of Representatives for Georgia, told Bernie about Dr. Brown’s daughter Georgia Brown and how subsequent to the baby girl’s birth on August 11, 1911 the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that she was to be named Georgia after the state, an anecdote which would be directly referenced by the song’s lyric: ‘Georgia claimed her – Georgia named her.’ The tune was first recorded in March 1925 by Bernie & his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra, resulting in a five-week run at #1.

The Way You Look Tonight

First commercial release by Bing Crosby & Dixie Lee (1936).
Also recorded by Billie Holiday (1936).
Hit versions by Fred Astaire (US #1 1936), The Jaguars (1956), The Lettermen (US #13/UK #36 1961).

From the wiki: “”The Way You Look Tonight” is a song featured in the film Swing Time, originally performed by Fred Astaire, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ was written by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, who later remarked, ‘The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry.’ The song was first released commercially in 1936 as a duet between Bing Crosby and his then-wife Dixie Lee.

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