Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Dinah Washington

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.”

Since I Fell For You

Written and first recorded by The Buddy Johnson Orchestra with Ella Johnson (1946).
Hit versions by Annie Laurie with Paul Gayten & His Trio (US #20/R&B #3 1947), Lenny Welch (US #4 1963).
Also recorded by Dinah Washington (1947), The Harptones (1953).

From the wiki: “‘Since I Fell for You’ is Blues ballad composed by Buddy Johnson in 1945 and first popularized by his sister, Ella Johnson, with The Buddy Johnson Orchestra. It has since gone on to become a Jazz and Pop standard, becoming a particular favorite of vocalists. Dinah Washington recorded it in 1947, Eartha Kitt in 1950, Julie London in 1964, Shirley Horn in 1987, and Etta Jones in 1998. The 1963 Lenny Welch cover of ‘Since I Fell for You’ reached #4 on Billboard Hot 100, far and away Welch’s biggest career hit.

Cold, Cold Heart

Written and first recorded by Hank Williams (C&W #1 1951).
Other hit versions by Dinah Washington (R&B #3 1951), Tony Bennett (US #1 1951).

From the wiki: “Hank Williams wrote ‘Cold Cold Heart’ after visiting his wife, Audrey, in the hospital where she was recovering from an illegal abortion. The flowers he brought her were thrown back in his face. ‘You sorry son of a bitch,’ she is claimed to have said. ‘It was you that caused me to suffer this.’ Hank went home and said his wife had a ‘cold, cold heart.’ Audrey shut him out of her life, and filed for divorce on January 10, 1952. The melody to ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ was taken from ‘You’ll Still Be In My Heart’ (1945), by T. Texas Tyler (who also wrote ‘My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It’). The copyright case was settled out-of-court, after Hank’s passing, in 1955. Dinah Washington and Tony Bennett both recorded adaptations of ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ in 1951, helping Country music out of its rural isolation with additional success on both the R&B and Pop charts.”

What a Difference a Day Makes

First recorded in English (as “What a Diff’rence a Day Made”) by Jimmie Ague (1934).
Also recorded by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra (1934).
Hit versions by The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (US #5 1934), Andy Russell (US #15 1944), Dinah Washington (US #8/R&B #4 1959), Esther Phillips (US #20/R&B #10/UK #6 1975), Bobby Lewis (C&W #81 1977).

From the wiki: “‘What a Diff’rence a Day Made’ is a popular song originally written in Spanish by María Grever, a Mexican songwriter, in 1934 and originallly titled “Cuando vuelva a tu lado” (‘When I Return to Your Side’). The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams. The earliest English-language renditions of the song were recorded in 1934 by Jimmie Ague, and also by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra. The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra charted first with the song, in 1934, featuring vocals by Bob Crosby. Dinah Washington’s 1959 recording earned her the Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance. Esther Phillips reached into the UK Top 10 with her disco-fied recording.”

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