Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Mark James

Moody Blue

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.”

Always On My Mind

First recorded by Brenda Lee (C&W #45/CAN #40 1972).
Hit versions by Elvis Presley (C&W #16/UK #9 1972), John Wesley Ryles (C&W #20 1979), Willie Nelson (US #5/C&W #1 1982), Pet Shop Boys (US #4/UK #1/CAN #1 1988).

From the wiki: “‘Always on My Mind’ is an American country music song by Johnny Christopher, Mark James (‘Suspicious Minds‘, ‘Hooked On a Feeling‘) and Wayne Carson, recorded first by Brenda Lee in 1972.

“Wayne Carson says that he wrote the song in 10 minutes at his home in Springfield at his kitchen table and completed the song in studio with the assistance of Johnny Christopher and Mark James. Brenda Lee would be the first singer to record and release a version of ‘Always On My Mind’. Her single, however, would stall at #45 on the US Country Singles chart.

Hooked on a Feeling

Originally recorded by B.J. Thomas (US #5/CAN #3 1968).
Other hit versions by Jonathan King (UK #23 1972), Blue Swede (US #1/CAN #1/AUS #1 1974).

From the wiki: “‘Hooked on a Feeling’ is a 1968 pop song written by Mark James (‘Suspicious Minds‘) and originally performed by B. J. Thomas. Featuring the sound of the electric sitar, Thomas’ recording reached #5 in 1969 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“In 1971, British pop eccentric Jonathan King (‘Everyone’s Gone to the Moon’) produced his own version, adding ooga chuka jungle chants. King described his arrangement as ‘a reggae rhythm by male voices.’ His version reached #23 on the UK Singles Chart in 1972 but did not chart in the US.

Suspicious Minds

Written and first recorded by Mark James (1968).
Hit versions by Elvis Presley (US #1/MOR #4/UK#2/CAN #1/AUS #1/NZ #2 1969), Dee Dee Warwick (US #80/R&B #24 1971), Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter (C&W #2 1976), Gareth Gates (UK #1 2002).

From the wiki: “‘Suspicious Minds’ was written by Mark James in 1968, and first recorded and released by James on Scepter Records in 1968. but Scepter did not have the money to promote new artists, and the song did not make the charts. After Mark James’ recording failed commercially, the song was suggested to Elvis Presley by James’ producer, Chips Moman. Even though James’s recording initially had not been commercially successful, Elvis decided, upon reviewing the song, he could turn it into a hit.

“Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ would go on to become a #1 hit in the US and in several other countries around the world, one of the top songs of the year (1969), and one of the most notable hits of Presley’s career.

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