Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Mel Torme

Harlem Nocturne

First recorded by Ray Anthony & His Orchestra (1939).
Hit versions by Herbie Fields (1953), The Viscounts (US #52 1959 |US #39 1966).
Also recorded by Johnny Otis (1945), Mel Torme (1963), Duke Ellington (c. 1970?).

From the wiki: “‘Harlem Nocturne’ was written by Earle Hagen and Dick Rogers in 1939. The song was adopted by bandleader Randy Brooks the next year as his theme song, but was first recorded in 1939 by Ray Anthony & His Orchestra. Hagen was a trombonist in Ray Noble’s band at the time. He had been inspired by Duke Ellington’s saxophone player Johnny Hodges and wrote ‘Harlem Nocturne’ for Noble’s sax man Jack Dumont, originally titling it ‘Duke’s Soup’. The name change was suggested by the publisher.

Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Written and first recorded by The Vince Guarldi Trio (US #22/MOR #9 1962).
Also recorded by Quincy Jones (1963 |1971).
Other hit versions by Mel Torme (AUS #13 1964), Sounds Orchestral (US #10/MOR #1/UK #5 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Cast Your Fate To The Wind’ is an American Jazz instrumental with music composed, and which was originally recorded, by Vince Guaraldi. It won a Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition in 1963. t was included on the album Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus and, at least some copies of the album, the title on the label contained a printing error: It read ‘Cast Your Faith To The Wind’, an unintentionally comic twist to the sentiment of the song. In Australia, a vocal version by Mel Tormé (with lyrics by Carel Werber) was a hit in 1963. In 1965 the British group Sounds Orchestral redirected the song away from Jazz to more of a ‘nightclub sound’. That version attained #5 in the UK, #10 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #1 for three weeks in May, 1964 on the US Easy Listening chart.”

I Won’t Last a Day Without You

Written and first single release by Paul Williams (1973).
Hit versions by Maureen McGovern (US #84/MOR #19 1973), Diana Ross (B-side US #1 1973), The Carpenters (1972 |US #11/MOR #1/UK #9/CAN #7/JPN #40 1974).

From the wiki: “‘I Won’t Last a Day Without You’ was co-written by Paul Williams (‘We’ve Only Just Begun’) and Roger Nichols. He released his version as a single in 1973, but garnered only minor success. Maureen McGovern recorded the song and also released it as a single in 1973 (and included on her album The Morning After), with results similar to those of Williams. Diana Ross covered the song for her 1973 album Touch Me in the Morning, and it was released as the B-side of the title track single release, ‘Touch Me in the Morning’, which became a #1 hit.

“It was in 1972 when Richard Carpenter first learned of the new song from Williams and Nichols, who had already contributed ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ and ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ to the Carpenters. Carpenter produced the recording that was included it on the Carpenters’ 1972 album A Song for You, but it would not be released as a single until 1974 when it would go US Top-20 and Top-10 in the UK and Canada.

Blue Moon

First recorded by Glen Gray & The Casa Loma Orchestra (1934).
Based on ‘The Bad in Every Man’ by Shirley Ross (1934).
Also recorded by Coleman Hawkins with the Michel Warlop Orchestra (1935), Elvis Presley (1954), Sam Cooke (1959).
Hit versions by Connee Boswell (US #1 1935), Mel Tormé (US #20 1947), The Marcels (US #1/R&B #1/UK #1 1961).

From the wiki: “The melody to ‘Blue Moon’ goes back further than the first recorded version of the song by The Casa Loma Orchestra. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in May 1933. They were soon commissioned to write the songs for Hollywood Party. ‘Prayer (Oh Lord, make me a movie star)’ was written for the movie but never recorded.

“Hart wrote new lyrics for the melody to create a title song for the 1934 film Manhattan Melodrama, but it was cut from the film before release. (Manhattan Melodrama wasn’t so much famous for having left what would become ‘Blue Moon’ on the edit room floor but for being the film John Dillinger went to see in the Chicago movie theater where he was gunned down by police bullets at the exit.) Rodgers still liked the melody so Hart wrote a third lyric, ‘The Bad in Every Man,’ which was sung by Shirley Ross. The song, which was also released as sheet music, was not a hit.

“Jack Robbins, the head of MGM studio’s publishing company, decided that the tune was suited to commercial release but needed more romantic lyrics and a punchier title. Hart was initially reluctant to write yet another lyric but was persuaded and the result was ‘Blue moon/you saw me standing alone/without a dream in my heart/without a love of my own’.”

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