Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Bob Dylan

Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)

First recorded by Bobby Darin (Jul 1962 |Released Nov 1963).
First released by The New World Singers (Released Jul 1963).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (Nov 1962 |Released Aug 1963).
Inspired by “Who’s Gonna Buy You Ribbons (When I’m Gone)” by Paul Clayton (1960).
Hit version by Peter Paul & Mary (US #9/MOR #2 1963). The Wonder Who? (parodied as “Don’t Think Twice” US #12 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ was written by Bob Dylan in 1962, recorded on November 14 that year, and released on the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and as a single in August 1963. There were other, earlier recordings and releases prior to Dylan’s because of the music’s availability via Witmark Publishing Co. Bobby Darin first recorded the song in July 1962, four months before Dylan. The New World Singers (‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘) released their version one month prior Dylan, in July 1963.

“The cover recording by Peter, Paul & Mary, released in September 1963 (entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #67), was the second consecutive Dylan song released as singles – preceded by ‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘ – from the album In the Wind.

“The Four Seasons released a cover of the song as a single in 1965 (with the title “Don’t Think Twice”) under the pseudonym The Wonder Who?, one of a handful of ‘names’ used by the group at that time. On the heels of recording a live album of Broadway tunes (to complete the settlement of the group’s lawsuit with Vee-Jay Records), Valli, Crewe, and Gaudio had planned on recording an album consisting entirely of songs written by Bob Dylan. But, as recording progressed, the concept was modified to include songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Valli was not happy with his vocals on the various takes of ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ when he decided to record the song with a ‘joke’ falsetto vocal to reduce the tension in the studio. An executive of Philips Records heard a replay of the recording with the ‘joke’ vocal and wanted it to be released as a single.

“Sold in a picture sleeve with a connect the dots puzzle, the record with the truncated name (‘Don’t Think Twice’) was released as by ‘The Wonder Who?’ in November 1965. As the single was sliding down the chart in January 1966, after peaking at #12, a Frankie Valli ‘solo’ single (‘(You’re Gonna) Hurt Yourself’) and a Four Seasons single (‘Working My Way Back to You’) were also in the upper half of the chart, giving three simultaneous hit records by the group under different guises.”

Tangled Up in Blue

First recorded by Bob Dylan (1974, released 1991).
Hit version by Bob Dylan (US #31 1975).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (1984).

From the wiki: “‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was written by Bob Dylan, and first appeared on the album Blood on the Tracks in 1975. Released as a single, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rolling Stone ranks it #68 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. According to The Telegraph, Dylan said ‘I wanted to defy time … When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it altogether. I wanted that song to be like a painting.’ Dylan had been influenced by his then-recent study of painting and the Cubist school of artists, who had sought to incorporate multiple perspectives within a single plane of view. Dylan has often stated that the song took ‘ten years to live and two years to write.’

“‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was one of five songs on Blood on the Tracks that Dylan initially recorded in New York City in September 1974 and which was then re-recorded in Minneapolis in December that year; the later recording became the album track and single. One of the September 1974 outtakes was released in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.

The Mighty Quinn

Written and first recorded (as “Quinn the Eskimo”) by Bob Dylan (1967, officially released 1985).
Hit version by Manfred Mann (US #10/UK #1/IRE #1/GER #1 1968).

From the wiki: “‘Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)’ is a folk-rock song written by Bob Dylan and first recorded during The Basement Tapes sessions in 1967 but was not officially released until 1985. (A 1969 live recording of ‘Quinn’ by Dylan, from the Isle of Wight, was released on Self Portrait in 1970). Meanwhile, the song was picked up and recorded by the British band Manfred Mann, who released it under the title “Mighty Quinn”. Manfred Mann first heard it on a bootleg of Dylan recordings, Dylan’s White Album (said to be the ‘mother of all bootlegs’), at Feldmans Music on Charing Cross Road, London. Dylan says the song was inspired by the Eskimo in the Nicholas Ray film The Savage Innocent (1960), symbol of pure freedom on American soil.”

(To) Make You Feel My Love

First recorded by Billy Joel (US #53 1997).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (1997); Bryan Ferry (2007).
Other hit versions by Garth Brooks (C&W #1 1998), Adele (UK #4/NETH #3/SCOT #4 2008).

From the wiki: “‘Make You Feel My Love’ was written by Bob Dylan that appeared on his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. It was first recorded and released commercially by Billy Joel, under the title ‘To Make You Feel My Love’, before Dylan’s version appeared later that same year. It has since been covered by numerous performers and has proved to be a commercial success for recording artists such as Garth Brooks, and Adele.”

House of the Rising Sun

First recorded (as “Rising Sun Blues”) by Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Gwen Foster (1933).
Also recorded by Woody Guthrie (1941), Lead Belly (1944 |1948), Josh White (1947), Glenn Yarbrough (1957), Pete Seeger (1958), Andy Griffith (1959), Miriam Makeba (1960).
Hit versions by The Animals (US #1/UK #1 1964), Frijid Pink (US #7/UK #4 1970).

From the wiki: “Like many classic folk ballads, the authorship of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ is uncertain. Musicologists say that it is based on the tradition of broadside ballads such as The Unfortunate Rake of the 18th century and that English emigrants took the song to America where it was adapted to its later New Orleans setting. Alan Price of The Animals has even claimed that the song was originally a sixteenth-century English folk song about a Soho brothel.

I’ve Got to Use My Imagination

Co-written and first recorded by Barry Goldberg, co-writer (1973).
Hit version by Gladys Knight & The Pips (US #4/R&B #1 1973).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (bootleg 1984), Joe Cocker (1989), Gerry Goffin, co-writer (1995), Joan Osborne (2007).

From the wiki: “‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination’ was written by Gerry Goffin (‘Up on the Roof‘, ‘Oh No Not My Baby‘, ‘Saving All My Love for You‘, ‘One Fine Day’) and Barry Goldberg, and first recorded by Goldberg in 1973 at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with co-producer Bob Dylan on backing vocals and percussion. Goldberg was the keyboardist behind Dylan at the infamous ‘Dylan goes electric’ Newport Folk Festival performance in 1965, and it was Dylan who helped Goldberg secure the deal with Atlantic Records that resulted in the 1974 release of Barry Goldberg.

Ballad of Ira Hayes

Written and first recorded by Peter LaFarge (1962).
Hit version by Johnny Cash (C&W #3 1964).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (1973).

From the wiki: “‘The Ballad of Ira Hayes’ was written by folk singer Peter La Farge (himself a Nargaset Indian, poet, and novelist, and Native American rights advocate), and first recorded by him in 1962. It tells the story of Ira Hayes, one of the five Marines and one Navy Corpsman who became famous for having raised the US flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II. Hayes was a Pima Native American and a United States Marine corporal who was one of the six flag raisers immortalized in the iconic Iwo Jima photograph.

Mr. Tambourine Man

Recorded (as a demo) by The Jet Set (1964).
First commercial release by The Brothers Four (1965).
Hit version by The Byrds (US #1/UK #1 1965).

From the wiki: “In 1964, The Byrds – then known as The Jet Set – first recorded ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ as an audition demo prior to being signed to Columbia Records. Two other songs from the session (but not ‘Tambourine Man’) were released by Elektra Records in a one-off deal and had no chart impact. For the Columbia Records recording session leading to their first hit record, The Byrds did the vocals and lead guitar on the recording but session musicians (the infamous ‘Wrecking Crew‘) were brought in to play the other instruments. Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel and Glen Campbell were among the assorted session players used for The Byrds’ first recordings.

It Ain’t Me Babe

Written and first recorded by Bob Dylan (1964).
Also recorded by Joan Baez (1964).
Hit versions by Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash (US #58/C&W #4 1965), The Turtles (US #8 1965).

From the wiki: “‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ was written by Bob Dylan and originally appeared on his fourth album Another Side of Bob Dylan. Dylan’s biographers generally agree that the song owes its inspiration to his former girlfriend Suze Rotolo. Dylan reportedly began writing the song during his visit to Italy in 1963 while searching for Rotolo, who was studying there.”

Blowin’ in the Wind

First recorded by The New World Singers (1962).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (1962), The Chad Mitchell Trio (1963), Marlene Dietrich (1963).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #2/UK #13 1963), Stan Getz (US #110 1964), Stevie Wonder (US #9/R&B #1 1966).

From The Originals: “The timeline of recordings of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ is a little confusing. Some sources date the New World Singers’ recording to September 1963, four months after Dylan’s was released. That is patently wrong, however. The New World Singers’ version appeared on a compilation of ‘topical songs’ called Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 which apparently was released on 1 January 1963 on Broadside Records, the recording arm of the folk magazine (you guessed it) Broadside, which was founded by Pete Seeger and printed the lyrics of the song in May 1962. The Chad Mitchell Trio, sometimes credited with recording the song first, released the song on their In Action LP in March 1963.

Man of Constant Sorrow

First recorded by Dick Burnett (as “Farewell Song” c. 1913), Emry Arthur (1928).
Hit versions by The Stanley Brothers (1951 | 1959), Ginger Baker’s Air Force (C&W #36/UK #86 1970), Soggy Bottom Boys (C&W #35 2000).
Also recorded by Judy Collins (as “Maid of Constant Sorrow”) (1961), Bob Dylan (1962), Jerry Garcia (1993).

From the wiki: “‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ (also known as ‘I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow’) is a traditional American folk song first recorded in 1913 by Dick Burnett, a partially blind fiddler from Kentucky, who published the song as ‘Farewell Song’. (Some uncertainty exists as to whether Burnett himself wrote the song. One claim is that it was sung by the Mackin clan in 1888 in Ireland and that Cameron O’Mackin emigrated to Tennessee, bringing the song with him.) Another early version was commercially released by Emry Arthur in 1928.

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Written and first recorded by Bob Dylan (1965).
Hit versions by Them (1965 |GER #12 1973), The Byrds (from the Easy Rider soundtrack 1969).
Also recorded by Dion (1965), The Byrds (1965, released 1987), (as “Baby Blue”) by The Seldom Scene (1973), The Animals (1977).

Live performance, 1966:

From the wiki: “‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ was written and performed by Bob Dylan and featured on his 1965 Bringing It All Back Home album. The song was originally recorded with Dylan’s acoustic guitar and harmonica and William E. Lee’s bass guitar the only instrumentation. Dylan’s two previous albums, The Times They Are A-Changin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan both ended with a farewell song, ‘Restless Farewell’ and ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe’ respectively. ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ concludes Bringing It All Back Home in consistent fashion. Dylan played the song for Donovan in his hotel room during his May 1965 tour of England in a scene shown in the D. A. Pennebaker documentary Don’t Look Back; a version of the song is also included on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home. In a 2005 readers’ poll reported in Mojo, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ was listed as the #10 all-time-best Bob Dylan song.

Corrina, Corrina

First recorded by Bo Carter (Chatmon) & Charlie McCoy (1929).
Hit versions by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1940), Ray Peterson (US #9/UK #41 1960), The Rising Sons (1966).
Also recorded by Elston Gunn (Bob Dylan) (1962).

From the wiki: “‘Corrina, Corrina’ may have traditional roots; however, early versions are different musically and lyrically. One of the earliest is the commercial sheet music song ‘Has Anybody Seen My Corrine?’ published by Roger Graham in 1918. Just prior to World War II, Bob Wills adapted the song to a Western swing dance song. Following his recording with The Texas Playboys in April 1940, the song (recorded as “Corrine, Corrina”) entered the standard repertoire of all Western swing bands, influencing the adoption of ‘Corrina, Corrina’ by Cajun bands and later by individual country artists.

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