Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Gene Autry

Back in the Saddle Again

Co-written and first recorded by Ray Whitley (1938).
Hit version by co-writer Gene Autry (US #13/C&W #1 1939).

From the wiki: “‘Back in the Saddle Again’ was co-written by Ray Whitley with Gene Autry and first recorded by Whitley in 1938. A true Georgia born showman, Whitley was one of those guys who did a little bit of everything: He served in the Navy, ventured up to New York where he worked on the Empire State Building construction crew, he could snap the tip of a cigarette off with a bullwhip and, if remembered for nothing else, Whitley designed the guitar that would become a staple of Gibson’s line – the Super Jumbo.

“During the Depression, Whitley began to sing to make some money on the side. He ended up co-hosting a radio program called The Village Barn Dance with another young Western singer, Tex Ritter, and the two eventually made their way to Hollywood.

Jingle Jangle Jingle

First performed by Dick Thomas (1942).
Hit versions by The Merry Macs (US #4 1942), Kay Kyser (US #1 1942), Gene Autry (US #17 1942).

From the wiki: “‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ was written by Frank Loesser (‘Baby It’s Cold Outside‘, ‘Inch Worm’, ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?‘) and Joseph J. Lilley, and published in 1942. It was first introduced in the motion picture The Forest Rangers, starring Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard, and was sung by movie cowboy Dick Thomas (‘Sioux City Sue’, 1945).

“The Merry Macs released the first commercial recording of ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ in 1942. First formed to play proms in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Merry Macs were made up of the three McMichael brothers – tenors Judd and Joe, and baritone Ted – and vocalist Mary Lou Cook. The Merry Macs were discovered by organist-bandleader Eddie Dunstedter from radio station WCCO. Other popular 1942 versions of ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ were recorded by Kay Kyser with Harry Babbitt, and, most notably, by movie cowboy Gene Autry before his induction into the US Army.”

Frosty the Snowman

First recorded by Gene Autry & The Cass County Boys (US #7/C&W #4 1950).
Other hit versions by Nat “King” Cole (US #9 1950), Jan & Dean (#11 (1963).

From the wiki: “‘Frosty the Snowman’ (originally titled ‘Frosty the Snow Man’) is a popular song written by Walter ‘Jack’ Rollins and Steve Nelson, and was first recorded by Gene Autry & The Cass County Boys in 1950. Rollins and Nelson wrote ‘Frosty’ after the success of Autry’s recording of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ the previous year; Rollins and Nelson shipped the new song to Autry, who recorded ‘Frosty’ in search of another seasonal hit. The song supposedly takes place in White Plains, New York, or Armonk, New York. Armonk has a parade dedicated to Frosty annually. The song recounts the fictional tale of a snowman that is magically brought to life through a silk hat that a group of children find and place on his head. Although Frosty enjoys roaming throughout town with the children who constructed him, he runs afoul of a traffic cop and leaves town, promising he will be back again someday.”

Blueberry Hill

First performed by Gene Autry (1940 |recorded 1941).
First commercial release by The Sammy Kaye Orchestra (1940).
Hit versions by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940), Louis Armstrong (US #29 1949), Fats Domino (US #2/R&B #1/UK #6 1956).

From the wiki: “‘Blueberry Hill’, written by Vincent Rose with lyrics by Larry Stock and Al Lewis, was first performed in 1940 but is best remembered for its 1950s Rock n’ Roll styling by Fats Domino. The song was recorded six times in 1940, after the original version was sung by Gene Autry in the 1940 movie The Singing Hill and was recorded to disc by Autry a year later, in 1941. The song is purportedly named after a ‘make-out’ spot in Taos, New Mexico.

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