Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Bobby Darin

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.”

It’s in His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)

First recorded by Merry Clayton (1963).
Also recorded by Ramona King (1963).
Hit versions by Betty Everett (US #6/R&B #1 1963 |UK #38 1968), The Searchers (1964), Bootleg Family Band (AUS #5 1974), Linda Lewis (UK #6 1975), Kate Taylor (US #49 1977), Cher (US #33/UK #1/IRE #1/SPN #1/NOR #1 1990).
Also performed by Linda Ronstadt & Phoebe Snow (1979).

From the wiki: “‘It’s in His Kiss’ was first rejected by the premier girl-group of the early 1960s, the New York-based Shirelles, and was instead first recorded in Los Angeles by Merry Clayton as her first credited single. Clayton had previously provided an uncredited female vocal to the hit ‘You’re the Reason I’m Living’ recorded by Bobby Darin as his debut on Capitol Records, and Darin had subsequently arranged for Clayton herself to be signed to Capitol. Clayton recorded ‘It’s in His Kiss’ – whose composer Rudy Clark was a staff writer for TM Music which Bobby Darin headed – in a session produced by Jack Nitzsche with The Blossoms (‘Stoney End‘, ‘He’s a Rebel‘) as chorale: the single was released June 10 1963 with no evident chart success.

Early in the Morning

Co-written (by Bobby Darin) and first recorded by The Ding Dongs (1958).
Hit version by The Rinky Dinks (US #24/R&B #8 1958), Buddy Holly (US #32/UK #17 1958).

From the wiki: “‘Early in the Morning’ was written by Bobby Darin and Woody Harris. Darin, a member at the time of the Brill Building gang of struggling songwriters, approached Brunswick Records with the song; Brunswick was impressed, but as Darin was still under contract to Atlantic Records’ subsidiary, Atco, the song was released as by ‘The Ding Dongs’ (in reality, Bobby Darin and backing vocalists). New York deejays liked the record but Atco soon discovered the deception. Brunswick was forced to turn over the masters to Atco, who re-released the record in 1958 under the name ‘The Rinky Dinks’. A version by Buddy Holly competed in the UK with Darin’s single, which was released there under Darin’s own name.”

If I Were a Carpenter

Written and first released by Tim Hardin (1966).
Hit versions by Bobby Darin (US #8/UK #9 1966), The Four Tops (US #20/R&B #17/UK #7 1968), Johnny Cash & June Carter (US #36/C&W #2 1970).

From the wiki: “‘If I Were a Carpenter’ was written by Tim Hardin (‘Reason to Believe‘), and first released by him in 1966 as the B-side to ‘How Can We Hang On to a Dream’. The recording would see a subsequent release in 1967 on the album Hardin 2. According to Mojo magazine (February 2012), the song was partly inspired by engineer John Judnich, who built for Hardin a small recording setup in Lenny Bruce’s Sunset Plaza house.

“Hardin and Bobby Darin attended each others recording session at the studio and swapped songs, with Hardin recording Darin’s ‘Simple Song Of Freedom’ that became Hardin’s only charting recording (US #47 1969). Darin’s Top-10 recording of ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ used the same arrangement and instrumentation as Hardin’s original.

Baby Face

First recorded by The Jan Garber Orchestra (US #1 1926).
Other popular versions by Ipana Troubadours (US #10 1926), Art Mooney (US #3 1948), Little Richard (US #41/R&B #12/UK #2/NOR #1 1958), Bobby Darin (US #42/UK #40 1962), Wing and a Prayer Fife & Drum Corps (US #14/Soul #32 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Baby Face’ was written by Harry Akst, the lyrics by Benny Davis. The song was published in 1926, and first became popular that same year when recorded by the Jan Garber Orchestra. It has since been covered by many recording artists, including Al Jolson, The Revelers, Bobby Darin, and Wing and a Prayer Fife & Drum Corps. Swan Districts, an Australian Rules club in the WAFL since 1934, bases its club song on this tune.

Mack the Knife

First popular English-language recording Louis Armstrong & His All Stars (US #20 1956).
Other hit version by Bobby Darin (US #1/R&B #6/UK #1 1959).

From the wiki: “First composed in German by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper (known in English as The Threepenny Opera), ‘Mack the Knife’ had its original premiere in Berlin in 1928. The play opens with the moritat singer comparing Macheath (unfavorably) with a shark, and then telling tales of his robberies, murders, rapes, and arson. The song was a last minute addition, inserted just before its première in 1928, because Harald Paulsen, the actor who played Macheath, demanded that Brecht and Weill add another number that would more effectively introduce his character.

The More I See You

First recorded by Dick Haymes (1945).
Also recorded by Nat King Cole (1958), Bobby Darin (1961), Doris Day (1965).
Hit version by Chris Montez (US #16/MOR #2 1966).

From the wiki: “‘The More I See You’ was originally recorded by Dick Haymes in 1945, and sung by Haymes in the film Diamond Horseshoe (1945). Other early recordings were made by Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin and Doris Day before the song hit the Pop music chart in 1966.

Beyond the Sea

First recorded (in English) by Harry James & His Orchestra with Marion Morgan (1947).
Hit versions Roger Williams (US #37 1955), Bobby Darin (US #6/R&B #15/UK #8 1959), George Benson (UK #60 1984).

From the wiki: “‘Beyond the Sea’ is the English adaptation of a romantic love song (‘La Mer’) by Charles Trenet. Trenet was most famous for his recordings from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s. In an era in which it was unusual for a singer to write their own material, Trenet wrote prolifically and declined to record any but his own songs.

Reason to Believe

Written and first recorded by Tim Hardin (1965).
Also recorded by Bobby Darin (1966), Marianne Faithful (1967).
Hit versions by Rod Stewart (US #62 1971/US #19 1993).

From the wiki: ‘Reason to Believe’ is a song written and first recorded by American folk singer Tim Hardin in 1965. After having had his recording contract terminated by Columbia Records, Hardin achieved some success in the 1960s as a songwriter based in Greenwich Village. The original recording of ‘Reason to Believe’ comes from Hardin’s debut album, Tim Hardin 1, recorded in 1965 and released on the Verve Records label in 1966 when he was 25.

Rock Island Line

First recorded at Cumins State Prison farm, Gould, Arkansas, by John Lomax (1934).
Popular versions by Lead Belly (1937), Lonnie Donegan (UK #8 1955).
Also recorded by Bobby Darin & The Jaybirds (1956), The Beatles (1969, released as a bootleg 1994).

From the wiki: “‘Rock Island Line’ is an American Blues/Folk song first recorded by John Lomax in 1934 as sung by inmates in an Arkansas State Prison, and later popularized by Lead Belly. Many versions have been recorded by other artists, most significantly the world-wide hit version in the mid-1950s by Lonnie Donegan. The song is ostensibly about the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.

“Donegan’s recording, released as a single in late 1955, signaled the start of the UK ‘skiffle’ craze. This recording featured Donegan, Chris Barber on double bass and washboard player (Beryl Bryden), but as it was part of a Chris Barber’s Jazz Band session for Decca Records, Donegan received no royalties from Decca for record sales, beyond his original session fee.

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