Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Nat “King” Cole

Almost Like Being in Love

First performed and recorded by David Brooks & Marion Bell (1947).
Hit versions by Mildred Bailey (US #21 1947), Mary Martin (US #21 1947), Frank Sinatra (US #20 1947), Gene Kelly, (1954), Michael Johnson (US #32/MOR #4 1978).
Also recorded by Lester Young (1952), Nat “King” Cole (1953), Frank Sinatra (1961), Shirley Bassey (1979).

From the wiki: “‘Almost Like Being in Love’ was written by the songwriting team of Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner in 1947, for the musical Brigadoon. The song was first performed on Broadway and recorded by David Brooks and Marion Bell from the original cast. It would later be performed by Gene Kelly in the 1954 film version of Brigadoon.

“Mildred Bailey first charted ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ in 1947, along with an equally-popular cover by Mary Martin. Frank Sinatra recorded two popular versions: first in 1947 and, again, in 1961 for the album Come Swing With Me, the version generally heard today. Lester Young’s instrumental cover was released in 1952; Nat ‘King’ Cole recorded his version in 1953, a recording used years later, in 1993, for the soundtrack of Groundhog Day.

“‘Almost Like Being in Love’ was revived, as a downbeat ballad, in 1978 by singer Michael Johnson. British singing sensation Shirley Bassey covered Johnson’s arrangement in 1979.”

Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)

Early recording by Edward M. Favor (1894).
Other popular recordings by Dinah Shore (1942), Charlie & His Orchestra (1942), Nat “King” Cole (1963).
Also recorded by IBM 1094 (1961), “HAL 9000” (1968), Katy Perry (2014).

From the wiki: “‘Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)’ was written in 1892 by Harry Dacre. The song is said to have been inspired by Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII (1841-1910). The song was first recorded and released by Dan W. Quinn in 1893. Edward M. Favor recorded a version in 1894 that still exists.

“In 1942, when Dinah Shore appeared on Eddie Cantor’s popular radio show, she performed a clever arrangement of the song. The Nazi-sponsored German propaganda swing band, Charlie & His Orchestra, also released a cover of the song in 1942, aimed at listeners in the UK and the US. Nat King Cole recorded a cover for his popular 1963 album Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy Days of Summer.

L-O-V-E

Co-written and first recorded by Bert Kaempfert (1964).
Hit version by Nat “King” Cole (US #89/MOR #17 1965).

From the wiki: “‘L-O-V-E’ was composed by Bert Kaempfert, and was first recorded as an instrumental track on Kaempfert’s album Blue Midnight (1964). Nat ‘King’ Cole followed in 1965 with his vocal recording for his album of the same name (1965), with lyrics by Milt Gabler. The trumpet solo on the Cole recording was performed by Bobby Bryant. For international versions of L-O-V-E album, Cole also recorded versions of ‘L-O-V-E’ in Japanese (mixed with English words), Italian, German, Spanish and French (as ‘Je Ne Repartirai Pas’).”

Jingle Bells

First recorded (as “One Horse Open Sleigh”) by The Edison Male Quartette (1898).
Popular versions by The King Cole Trio (1938), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #5 1941), Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (1943), Primo Scala & The Keynotes (US #10 1948), Les Paul (US #10 1951), The Hysterics (UK #44 1981).

From the wiki: “James Lord Pierpont’s 1857 composition ‘Jingle Bells’ became one of the most performed and most recognizable secular holiday songs ever written, not only in the United States, but around the world. In recognition of this achievement, James Lord Pierpont was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Pierpont wrote it in the 1850s in Medford, Massachusetts as ;The One-horse Open Sleigh’ for the choir of the First Unitarian Church, where his father was pastor. The choir introduced the new song during a Thanksgiving Day service; there was not a single reference to Christmas in the original lyrics. But, due to the public’s enthusiasm, the performance was renewed during that same year’s Christmas celebration. In 1857 the song was copyrighted as ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’. Two years later it was first published as ‘Jingle Bells’ in Savannah, GA, where Pierpont’s brother, John, was pastor. His Unitarian Universalist Church is locally known as ‘The Jingle Bells Church’.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

First recorded by The Royal Military Band (1904).
Also recorded by The Edison Carol Singers (1905).
Popular versions by Nat “King” Cole (1963), Mannheim Steamroller (1984).

From the wiki: “‘God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen’, also known as ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, and ‘God Rest You Merry People All’, is an English traditional Christmas carol. It was published by William B. Sandys in 1833, although the author is unknown. Like so many early Christmas songs, the carol was written as a direct reaction to the church music of the 15th century. However, in the earliest known publication of the carol, on a c. 1760 broadsheet, it is described as a ‘new Christmas carol’, suggesting its origin is actually in the mid-18th century. It is referred to in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: ‘…at the first sound of ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!’, Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.'”

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.”

Stardust

Co-written and first recorded (as an instrumental) by Hoagy Carmichael (1927).
Hit versions by Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang (US #20 1929), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #1 1930), Bing Crosby (US #5 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #16 1931), Frank Sinatra with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (US #7 1941), Nat “King” Cole (US #79/UK #24 1957), Billy Ward & His Dominoes (US #12/R&B #5/UK #13 1957), Nino Tempo & April Stevens (US #32 1964).
Also recorded by Jon Hendricks (1990).

From the JazzStandards.com: “On October 31, 1927, Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals recorded ‘Stardust’ at the Gennett Records studio in Richmond, Indiana. Hoagy’s ‘pals,’ Emil Seidel and His Orchestra, agreed to record the medium-tempo instrumental in between their Sunday evening and Monday matinee performances in Indianapolis, seventy miles away. In 1928 Carmichael again recorded ‘Stardust,’ this time with lyrics he had written, but Gennett rejected it because the instrumental had sold so poorly. The following year, at Mills Music, Mitchell Parish was asked to set lyrics to coworker Carmichael’s song. The result was the 1929 publication date of ‘Star Dust’ with the music and lyrics we know today.

“According to the Carmichael, inspiration for the song struck while visiting his old university campus. Sitting on a wall reminiscing about the town, his college days, and past romances, he looked up at the starlit sky and whistled ‘Star Dust’. Richard Sudhalter’s biography ( Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael) contends that the melody may have begun with fragments, evolving over months and maybe years, but Carmichael preferred to perpetuate a myth that sweet songs are conceived in romantic settings.

It’s All in the Game

First recorded by Tommy Edwards (US #18/R&B #1 1951).
Also recorded by Louis Armstrong (1953), Nat “King” Cole (1956).
Other hit versions by Tommy Edwards (re-recording US #1/UK #1 1958), Cliff Richard (US #25/UK #2 1963), The Four Tops (US #24/R&B #6/UK #5 1970).

From the wiki: “‘It’s All in the Game’ is the only #1 hit ever written by a future US Vice-President. The melody was first composed in 1911 by then-banker Charles Gates Dawes, who would become VP in 1925 under Calvin Coolidge. The song garnered some popularity in the 1920s when Jascha Heifetz used it for a time as a ‘light concert’ encore. Lyrics were added in 1951 by the Brill Building songwriter Carl Sigman, who also changed the song’s name to ‘It’s All in the Game’ from its original ‘Dawes Melody in A Major’. Sadly, Dawes would not live to hear lyrics put to his song. He passed away the same day Sigman completed his assignment.

The More I See You

First recorded by Dick Haymes (1945).
Also recorded by Nat King Cole (1958), Bobby Darin (1961), Doris Day (1965).
Hit version by Chris Montez (US #16/MOR #2 1966).

From the wiki: “‘The More I See You’ was originally recorded by Dick Haymes in 1945, and sung by Haymes in the film Diamond Horseshoe (1945). Other early recordings were made by Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin and Doris Day before the song hit the Pop music chart in 1966.

When I Fall in Love

First recorded by The Victor Young Orchestra w. Jeri Southern (1952).
Hit versions by Doris Day (US #20 1952), Nat “King” Cole (UK #2 1957), Natalie Cole (US #6/R&B #31 1987), Rick Astley (UK #2 1987), Celine Dion & Clive Griffin (US #23/MOR #6 1993).

From the wiki: “Jeri Southern released the original version in April 1952 with the song’s composer, Victor Young, handling the arranging and conducting duties. The song has become a standard, with many artists recording it, though the first hit version was by Doris Day released in July 1952.”

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