First recorded by Bernard Hardison (1954).
Also recorded by Frankie Castro (1956).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #1/C&W #3/R&B #3 1957).
From the wiki: “Written by Lee Rosenberg and Bernard Weinman, ‘Too Much’ was built around a teen catchphrase (‘Aw, man, that’s too much!’). First recorded by Bernard Hardison (‘with band’) in 1954, it had no chart impact – possibly due to its lyrics being considered ‘too suggestive’. Recorded again two years later by Frankie Castro for Mercury Records, it again failed to chart – but did garner a ‘rave’ review in Billboard:
‘A personality-packed side with a subtle r&r back-up. For junior hipsters.’ – Billboard, May 19, 1956
“But, covered (with lyrics ‘sanitized’) by Elvis Presley, in 1957, ‘Too Much’ topped the Billboard Hot 100. It also went Top-5 on both the Country and R&B music charts.”
First recorded by Billy Brown (1959).
Hit versions by Jim Reeves (US #2/C&W #1/R&B #13/UK #12/CAN #1/AUS #1/NOR #1 1959), Solomon Burke (US #51/R&B #17 1964).
Also recorded by Elvis Presley (1976).
From the wiki: “‘He’ll Have to Go’ was written by Joe Allison and Audrey Allison.
“Joe first worked in the early 1940s as a commercial artist before embarking on a career in the entertainment industry, first as a disc jockey on a Paris, Texas radio station. In 1945, after a few years on radio, Allison took a job as the emcee for the North American tour of country music singing star Tex Ritter. While working on tour, he offered Ritter a song he had written called ‘When You Leave, Don’t Slam the Door’, which the singer turned into a #1 hit on the Country music charts. This success ultimately led to Allison moving to a radio station in Nashville, Tennessee where he remained until accepting an offer from a radio station in Pasadena, California.
“In 1959, Joe and Audrey co-wrote their most famous song, ‘He’ll Have to Go’, which was initially recorded by Billy Brown. A subsequent version by Jim Reeves become a platinum record, and the song would be recorded successfully by more than one hundred other artists including Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Tom Jones, Eddy Arnold, and even big band leader Guy Lombardo. That same year, Allison was hired by Liberty Records to create their Country music department. It was at Liberty that Joe signed Willie Nelson to his first recording contract.
First recorded by Roy Hamilton (R&B #8 1954).
Other hit versions by Timi Yuro (US #4/MOR #2/R&B #22 1961), Little Anthony & the Imperials (US #55 1966), Fausto Leali (as “A Chi” ITA #1 1967), Connie Cato (C&W #14 1975), The Manhattans (US #97/R&B #10/UK #4 1976), Elvis Presley (US #28/MOR #7/C&W #6/UK #37 1976), Juice Newton (C&W #1 1985).
Also recorded by Carly Simon (1981).
From the wiki: “‘Hurt’ was written by Jimmie Crane and Al Jacobs, and was first recorded by Roy Hamilton (‘Unchained Melody‘, ‘Don’t Let Go‘), whose version peaked at #8 on the R&B Best Seller chart and spent a total of seven weeks on the chart.
“The song is considered to be the signature hit of Timi Yuro, whose version went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. But, Juice Newton’s recording charted highest on any chart when it reached #1 on Billboard’s Country chart in 1985.
Co-written and first recorded (as “Comme d’habitude”) by Claude François (1967).
Hit English-language versions by Frank Sinatra (US #27/MOR #2 1969), Dorothy Squires (UK #25 1970), Elvis Presley (US #22/MOR #6/UK #9 1977 |C&W #2 1978).
Also recorded by Paul Anka (1969).
From the wiki: “‘My Way’ was popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra. Its lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song ‘Comme d’habitude’ (‘As Usual’) co-written by Claude François, and first performed in 1967 by François.
“Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. He had heard the original 1967 French pop song by François while on holiday in the south of France. Anka flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song, acquiring adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere nominal, but formal, consideration of one dollar, subject to the provision that the melody’s composers would retain their original share of royalty rights with respect to whatever versions Anka or his designates created or produced.
“Some time later, Anka had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra during which Sinatra said ‘I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it; I’m getting the hell out.’ Back in New York, Anka re-wrote the original French song for Sinatra, subtly altering the melodic structure and changing the lyrics.
First recorded by The Paramount Jubilee Singers (1923).
Hit versions by Louis Armstrong (US #10 1939), The Weavers (US #27 1951), Percy Faith & His Singers (US #29 1951), Bill Haley & His Comets (as “The Saints Rock ‘n Roll” US #18/UK #5 1956), Fats Domino (US #50 1959).
Also recorded by The Million Dollar Quartet (1956), Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers (1961).
From the wiki: “‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, often referred to as ‘The Saints’, is an American gospel hymn. According to jazz critic Al Rose this tune was first published as a Baptist hymn in 1916 and credited to Edward Boatner, the man behind religious-classic ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’. Though it originated as a Christian hymn, it is often played by jazz bands. This song was famously recorded on May 13, 1938 by Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra.
“The first known recorded version was in 1923 by the Paramount Jubilee Singers on Paramount 12073. Although the title given on the label is ‘When All the Saints Come Marching In’, the group sings the modern lyrics beginning with “When the saints go marching in”. No author is shown on the label. The earliest versions were slow and stately, but as time passed the recordings became more rhythmic. Louis Armstrong was one of the first to make the tune into a nationally known Pop tune in the 1930s. (Armstrong wrote that his sister told him she thought the secular performance style of the traditional church tune was inappropriate and irreligious.)
First recorded by Cynthia Gooding (1956).
Popular versions by Glenn Yarbrough (as “All My Sorrows” 1957), Kingston Trio (as “All My Sorrows” 1959), Joan Baez (1960), The Shadows (as “All My Sorrows” 1963), The Searchers (as “All My Sorrows” 1963), Peter Paul & Mary (1963), Dick & Dee Dee (US #89 1964).
Also recorded (in medley) by Elvis Presley (1972).
From the wiki: “”All My Trials” is a folk song during the social protest movements of the 1950s and 1960s. It is based on a Bahamian lullaby that tells the story of a mother on her death bed, comforting her children. The message — that no matter how bleak the situation seemed, the struggle would ‘soon be over’ — propelled the song to the status of an anthem, recorded by many of the leading artists of the era.
“Cynthia Gooding first recorded the song in 1956. It quickly became a Folk song staple, with recordings by Glenn Yarbrough (1957), The Kingston Trio (1959), and Joan Baez (1960) following soon thereafter. (Gooding would later go on to host a Folk music show on NYC radio station WBAI and, in 1962, would conduct the first radio interview, ever, with a young Bob Dylan.) In the UK, Cliff Richard’s backing band, The Shadows, recorded an instrumental cover of ‘All My Sorrows’ in 1961 for their first solo outing, The Shadows; The Searchers would also cover the song in 1963 for the album Sugar and Spice.
“Folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary released ‘All My Trials’ on their best-selling 1963 album, In the Wind, which yielded the hit singles ‘Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)‘ and ‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘. Dick & Dee Dee’s 1964 recording is the only recording to have charted in the Billboard Hot 100.
“A fragment of ‘All My Trials’ is used in the Mickey Newbury anthem ‘An American Trilogy’, also recorded by Elvis Presley and broadcast worldwide in 1972 on Aloha from Hawaii.”
Written and first recorded by Mark James (1975).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #32/C&W #1 1976).
From the wiki: “‘Moody Blue’, made famous by Elvis Presley, was written and first recorded by Mark James who also penned Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds‘. ‘Moody Blue’ was Presley’s last #1 hit in his lifetime, topping the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1977.
“Presley recorded his version in February 1976, in the Jungle Room of his Graceland home. The only time Elvis performed the song in its entirety was on February 21, 1977 at a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had attempted to perform the song February 20 at the same venue but revealed to the crowd that he had completely forgotten the lyrics; he returned on February 21, lead sheet in hand, and performed the song with his eyes glued to the lyrics.”
First recorded by Jane Morgan (1961).
Hit versions by Shirley Bassey (UK #5 1962), Sonny & Cher (US #14/UK #12 1966), Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (US #24/MOR #2 1966), Mitch Ryder (US #30 1967).
Also performed by Elvis Presley (1974).
From the wiki: “‘What Now, My Love?’ is the English title of a popular song whose original French version, ‘Et maintenant’ (English: ‘And Now’) was written in 1961 by composer Gilbert Bécaud (co-writer, ‘September Morn‘) and lyricist Pierre Delanoë. Bécaud’s original version of this song topped French chart in 1961. English lyrics and the title were written by Carl Sigman, and were first recorded in 1961 by Jane Morgan. The English-language covers use the melody of Bécaud but with a different lyrical imagery (e.g., ‘there’s the sky where the sea should be’), which are different from the more deeply dark French original.
“Elvis Presley performed the song before a live audience of 1 billion people, as part of his satellite show, Aloha from Hawaii, which was beamed to 43 countries via INTELSAT in 1974.”
First recorded (as “Piano”) by Mina (1960).
Hit versions by Matt Munro (US #18/UK #10 1961), Frank Sinatra (US #27/MOR #4 1964), Elvis Presley (C&W #8 1978).
From the wiki: “‘Softly, as I Leave You’ was first composed in Italian as ‘Piano’ (trans. ‘softly’) by Giorgio Calabrese and Tony De Vita. It was first performed by Mina at the 1960 Sanremo Music Festival, and was first released as a recording by her in 1960.
“English songwriter Hal Shaper noticed the song and in November 1961 wrote English-language lyrics to the melody, titling it ‘Softly, As I Leave You’. The best-known versions of this are those by Matt Munro (#10 on the British charts in 1962) and Frank Sinatra (#27 on the Billboard Hot 100/#4 on the MOR chart in 1964). When the Sinatra family announced Frank’s death on May 14, 1998, they placed an announcement on his website that was accompanied by his recording of ‘Softly, As I Leave You’.
First recorded (as “Frankie and Johnnie”) by Gene Greene & Charley Straight (1912).
First US recording by Al Bernard (1921).
Also recorded by Mississippi John Hurt (1928), Mae West (1933).
Popular versions by Ted Lewis & His Band (US #9 1927), Brook Benton (US #20/MOR #6/R&B #14 1961), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #42 1962), Sam Cooke (US #14/MOR #2/R&B #4/UK #30 1963), Elvis Presley (US #25/UK #21 1966).
From the wiki: “The song ‘Frankie and Johnny’ (sometimes spelled ‘Frankie and Johnnie’; also known as ‘Frankie and Albert’ or just ‘Frankie’) was inspired by one or more actual murders. One took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1899 when Frankie Baker, a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old lover Allen (also known as ‘Albert’) Britt in the abdomen. The song has also been linked to Frances ‘Frankie’ Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed ‘Frankie Killed Allen’ shortly after the Baker murder case. The first published version of the music to ‘Frankie and Johnny’ appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of ‘Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey’.
“In 1934, John A. & Alan Lomax counted some 300 published versions in their American Ballads And Folk Songs. Comment of the Lomaxes: ‘No one has ever publicly heard the same version twice, unless from two convict performers who shared the same cell for years.’ These 300 variations begged for a doctorate’s degree paper, finally written by Bruce Buckley who makes a clear distinction between the Frankie & Albert’s following the St. Louis facts and the more popular fantasy variation, ‘Frankie & Johnny’, published in 1912.
First recorded by Elvis Presley (US #95 1968).
Other hit version by Elvis Presley vs. JXL (US #50/UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #1/NZ #1/SWE #1 2002).
Also recorded by Mac Davis, co-writer (1973).
From the wiki: “‘A Little Less Conversation’ was written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange, and first performed by Elvis Presley in the 1968 film Live a Little, Love a Little. Davis has stated he’d written the song for Aretha Franklin to record, but that came to naught. ‘Conversation’ became a minor 1968 hit in the US for Presley when released as a single. Presley re-recorded the song in June 1968 for the soundtrack of his ’68 Comeback Special, with the intent of performing it during the program. Ultimately, it was decided not to use the recording and the song was dropped from the planned special. A 2002 remix by Junkie XL of the later re-recording of the song by Presley became a worldwide hit, topping the singles charts in nine countries and was awarded certifications in ten countries by 2003.”
Written and first recorded by Buffy St. Marie (1965).
Hit versions by The Four Pennies (UK #19 1965), Neil Diamond (US #53/MOR #11 1970), Elvis Presley (US#40/MOR #9/UK #5 1972), The New Birth (US #97/R&B #21 1973).
From the wiki: “‘Until It’s Time for You to Go’ was written by Canadian First Nations singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie for her 1965 album Many a Mile. It was a UK Top 20 hit for British group The Four Pennies in 1965, a Billboard Hot 100 single for Neil Diamond in 1970, an MOR and Top-5 UK for Elvis Presley in 1972, and a modest R&B hit in 1973 for The New Birth featuring future Supremes member Susaye Greene.”
First recorded (as a demo) by Otis Blackwell (1957).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #1/C&W #1 1957).
From the wiki: “‘(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear’ was written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe, and first recorded as a demo – at Mann and Lowe’s request – by Otis Blackwell (‘Fever‘, ‘Handy Man‘, ‘All Shook Up‘). Written for Elvis Presley’s second feature film, the semi-biographical Loving You, the song was a #1 hit for Presley during the summer of 1957, staying at #1 for 7 weeks, and was the third of four #1 songs Presley would have that year.
First recorded (as “I’m All Shook Up”) by Dave Hill (1957).
Also recorded (as “I’m All Shook Up”) by Vicki Young (1957).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #1/C&W #1/R&B #1/UK #1 1957).
Also recorded by Otis Blackwell, writer (1978).
From the wiki: “Otis Blackwell wrote the song at the offices of Shalimar Music in 1956 after Al Stanton, one of Shalimar’s owners, after dropping a bottle of Pepsi-Cola on the floor, challenged his songwriter Blackwell to write a song based on the fizzing soda contents.
First recorded by Jerry Reed (C&W #53 1967).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #43/C&W #1/UK #19 1968 |US #28/C&W #1 1981).
From the wiki: “‘Guitar Man’ is a 1967 song written by Jerry Reed and first recorded by him the same year. Soon after Reed’s single appeared, Elvis Presley recorded the song with Reed playing the guitar part. According to Peter Guralnick, in his two-volume biography of Presley, the singer had been trying unsuccessfully to record the tune but wasn’t happy with the groove. Presley said something to the effect of: ‘Get me that redneck picker who’s on the original [recording],’ and his staff brought Reed into the studio – who nailed it on the first take. Presley’s single charted in the both the US and UK, and spent a week at #1 on the US Country singles chart.
Co-written and first recorded by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers (R&B #3 1947).
Other popular versions by Chuck Berry (1958), Elvis Presley (1971), Bruce Springsteen (1987), Bonnie Raitt & Charles Brown (1992), Cee Lo Green & Rod Stewart (2012).
From the wiki: “‘Merry Christmas Baby’ is an R&B Christmas standard written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore. The original 1947 version by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers is considered to be the definitive version of this song.
First recorded by Doye O’Dell (1948).
Hit versions by Ernest Tubb (C&W #1 1949), Hugo Winterhalter & His Orchestra with Choir (US #9 1949), Russ Morgan & His Orchestra (US #11 1949), Hugo Winterhalter & Billy Eckstine (US #20 1950), Elvis Presley (1957 |US #40/UK #11 1964), Beach Boys (XMAS #3 1964), Shakin’ Stevens (UK #2 1982), Harry Connick Jr. (MOR #21 2004).
From the wiki: “‘Blue Christmas’ song was first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948. It was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by Country artist Ernest Tubb, which topped the Country singles chart; one by instrumental bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra that charted US Top-10; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires) that charted US Top-15. In 1950 Hugo Winterhalter released a new version, this time sung by Billy Eckstine, with shortened lyrics in a variation close to what is now the common standard for this song. This re-recording charted Top-20 in the US.
First recorded by Lloyd Price (R&B #1 1952).
Other hit versions by Elvis Presley (UK #15 1957), Gary Stites (US #47 1960), The Buckinghams (US #41 1967), Mickey Gilley (C&W #3 1976).
From the wiki: “‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ was an R&B song written by New Orleans singer/songwriter Lloyd Price (‘Personality’) that ‘grandly introduced The New Orleans Sound’. It was first recorded by Price in 1952, along with Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino during Price’s first session for Specialty Records. In 1952, Art Rupe, founder of Specialty Records in Los Angeles, came to New Orleans in search of new talent. Local recording studio owner Cosimo Matassa introduced him to Dave Bartholomew, who had co-written and produced many of Fats Domino’s early hit records. Bartholomew invited nineteen year-old Lloyd Price to audition for Rupe at Matassa’s J&M Studio. The accounts differ on what happened next.
“According to Rupe, Price spent too much time rehearsing and Rupe threatened to leave if he did not get it together; Rupe then relented and Price turned out an emotional performance of ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, prompting Rupe to cancel his return flight and to arrange for a full recording session.
Written and first recorded by Chuck Berry (US #41/R&B #16/UK #26 1965).
Other hit versions by Fred Weller (C&W #3 1971), Dave Edmunds (AUS #5 1972), Elvis Presley (US #14/C&W #9/UK #9 1974).
Also recorded by The Grateful Dead (1976).
From the wiki: “‘Promised Land’ was written by Chuck Berry to the melody of ‘Wabash Cannonball’, an American Folk song. It was first recorded in this version by Chuck Berry in 1964 for his album St. Louis to Liverpool. Released in 1965 as a promotional single, it was Berry’s first single issued following the completion of his prison sentence for a Mann Act conviction.
“In the lyrics, the singer (who refers to himself as ‘the poor boy’) tells of his journey from Norfolk, Virginia to the ‘Promised Land’, Los Angeles, California, mentioning various cities of the American Southeast that he encounters along his journey. Berry borrowed an atlas from the prison library to plot the song’s itinerary. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, ‘the poor boy’ calls Norfolk, Virginia (‘Tidewater four, ten-oh-nine’) to tell the folks back home he’s made it to the ‘promised land.’
Written and first recorded by Arthur Gunter (1954).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (C&W #5 1955).
Also recorded (as a demo) by Buddy Holly (1955).
From the wiki: “‘Baby Let’s Play House’ was written by Arthur Gunter and recorded by him in 1954. It was covered by Elvis Presley the following year on Sun Records – the fourth issue of a Presley record by Sun … and it became the very first recording by Elvis to appear on a national chart, when it made #5 on the Billboard Country singles chart in July 1955.
“In his youth the songwriter, Gunter, formed the Gunter Brothers Quartet with brothers and cousins. In 1954 Gunter signed with Excello Records and recorded ‘Baby Let’s Play House’ in November 1954. It was released on Excello 2047 and became a local hit. Gunter would later says ‘Elvis got that number and made it famous. But I didn’t get a chance to shake his hand.’ Gunter’s first royalty check, received that same year, was for $6500 (equivalent to $57,000 in 2014).
Recorded as (“Plaisir d’Amour”) by Emilio De Gogorza (1902).
Also recorded (as “Plaisir d’Amour”) by Joan Baez (1961).
Hit versions (in English) by Elvis Presley (US #2/UK #1 1961), Andy Williams (UK #3 1970), The Softones (R&B #53 1973), The Stylistics (R&B #52/UK #4 1976), UB40 (US #1/UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #1 1993).
Also recorded (as “I Want to Live”) by Aphrodite’s Child (NETH #1 1969).
Note: Not Emilio De Gogorza. This recording is by French cabaret tenor Tino Rossi, recorded in 1955:
From the wiki: “‘(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love’ was written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George Weiss (‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight‘, ‘What a Wonderful World’) based on a popular romance melody by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian, ‘Plaisir d’Amour’, first performed in 1784 and first recorded in 1902 by Emilio De Gogorza. English-language lyrics were written by Weiss, who claimed that neither the movie producers nor Elvis’ associates liked the song demo. But, nonetheless, Elvis insisted on recording the song for the movie Blue Hawaii.
First recorded by Ray Peterson (US #25/UK #23 1959).
Other hit versions by Ronnie Hilton (UK #22 1959), Elvis Presley (US #9/C&W #37/UK #1 1970).
Also recorded by The Platters (1968).
From the wiki: “‘The Wonder of You’ was written by Baker Knight for Perry Como. It was, instead, given to Ray Peterson (‘Tell Laura I Love Her’) who released ‘The Wonder of You’ in 1959 as a single. It became his first Top 40 hit, peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. That same year it was covered in the UK by Ronnie Hilton; his version reached #22 on the UK Singles Chart.
First recorded (as “His Latest Flame”) by Del Shannon (1961).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #4/UK #1 1961).
From the wiki: “‘(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame’ was written by the songwriting team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman (‘Save the Last Dance for Me’, ‘This Magic Moment‘, ‘Little Sister’, ‘Teenager in Love‘) and was originally recorded by Del Shannon for the album Runaway With Del Shannon, released in June 1961. The more famous and more successful recording by Elvis Presley was released in August 1961.”
First released by Ian & Sylvia (1965).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #91/MOR #13 1965), George Hamilton IV (C&W #9 1966), Oliver (MOR #38 1971), Paul Weller (UK #40 2005).
Also recorded by The Grateful Dead (1965), Gordon Lightfoot, author (1966), Elvis Presley (1972).
From the wiki: “‘Early Morning Rain’ (sometimes ‘Early Mornin’ Rain’) was composed by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, perhaps as early as 1964. The song appears on his 1966 debut album Lightfoot! but is thought to have been recorded in 1964 or 1965. Husband and wife duo Ian & Sylvia were the first to release ‘Early Morning Rain’; Peter, Paul & Mary’s version, also recorded in 1965, was the first to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. There was over a year’s time lag between the PP&M recording and Lightfoot’s recording and its release. The Grateful Dead also recorded the song in 1965.”
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