Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Dinah Shore

Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)

First recorded by Dinah Shore (1949).
Hit versions by Jo Stafford (US #14 1950), Harry Belafonte & Millard Thomas (UK #18 1957), The Browns (US #13 1959).

From the wiki: “‘Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)’ is a popular song. The music was written by Evelyn Danzig, with lyrics by Jack Segal, in only 15 minutes in 1949 at Danzig’s home in Port Washington, New York after she invited lyricist Segal to hear the music. The first Recordings of the song by Dinah Shore and Juanita Hall in 1949 made no great impression but, in 1950, Jo Stafford’s recording breached the US Top 20. In 1952, Harry Belafonte, at his third session for RCA Records, covered the song with an arrangement using only his guitarist Millard Thomas and male vocal group. After receiving continually good responses in concert, Belafonte’s four-year-old recording finally became a success in 1956 after it appeared on his second album which reached #1 on Billboard’s album chart for six weeks. Belafonte’s recording also reached the UK Top 20 in late 1957.

“The most successful recording of ‘Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)’ in the USA was recorded b The Browns, who reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1959. ‘Scarlet Ribbons’ has since become a standard with many recorded versions and has appeared on several Christmas albums.”

Baby It’s Cold Outside

First performed by Esther Williams & Ricardo Montalban and Red Skelton & Betty Garrett (Neptune’s Daughter, 1949).
Hit versions by Dinah Shore & Buddy Clark (US #4 1949), Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer (US #4 1949), Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan (US #9 1949), Dean Martin (1959) and Blossom Dearie & Bob Dorough (1979), Dean Martin & Martina McBride (MOR #7/C&W 36 2006).

From the wiki: “Frank Loesser wrote the duet in 1944 and premiered the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Lynn considered it ‘their song’ and was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM. The movie it appeared in, Neptune’s Daughter, featured two performances of the song: one by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams, and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, the second of which has the roles of ‘wolf and mouse’ reversed. These performances earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song.”

Taking a Chance on Love

First performed by Ethel Waters (1940).
First commercial recording by Ella Fitzgerald (1940).
Popular versions by Helen Forrest (US #1 1943), Ethel Waters (1946), Frank Sinatra (1954), Anita O’Day (1957).
Also recorded by Dinah Shore (1958).

From the wiki: “‘Taking a Chance on Love’ was written by Vernon Duke with lyrics by John La Touche and Ted Fetter, and has gone on to become a standard recorded by many artists. It was first performed in the Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky which opened at the Martin Beck Theater on October 25, 1940. (‘Taking a Chance on Love’ was added only three days before the New York opening, but it turned into the hit of the show.) The show was choreographed by George Balanchine and was a ground-breaking musical with an all-black cast. The leads were played by Ethel Waters as Petunia, Dooley Wilson (‘As Time Goes By‘) as her husband Little Joe, and Katherine Dunham as the temptress Georgia Brown.

“Waters introduced ‘Taking a Chance of Love’ as a show-stopping solo, reprising it at the end of Act I with Little Joe. Despite the fact that the song never made it to the popular radio show Your Hit Parade, big band performances and many, many cover recordings of the song made it into a Jazz vocal standard.”

Blues in the Night

First recorded Artie Shaw (US #10 1941).
Also recorded by Judy Garland (1941), Chicago (1995).
Other hit versions by Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #1 1941), Dinah Shore (US #4 1942), Cab Calloway (US #8 1942), Rosemary Clooney (US #29 1952).

From the wiki: “The song was first performed by William Gillespie, in the movie Blues In The Night, and nominated for an Academy Award. Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer wrote the entire score for Blues in the Night. When they finished writing ‘Blues in the Night’, Mercer called a friend, singer Margaret Whiting, and asked if they could come over and play it for her. She suggested they come later because she had dinner guests — Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Mel Tormé, and Martha Raye. Instead, Arlen and Mercer went right over. Margaret Whiting remembered what happened then:

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