Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Peter Paul & Mary

All My Trials (All My Sorrows)

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.”

Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)

First recorded by Bobby Darin (Jul 1962 |Released Nov 1963).
First released by The New World Singers (Released Jul 1963).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (Nov 1962 |Released Aug 1963).
Inspired by “Who’s Gonna Buy You Ribbons (When I’m Gone)” by Paul Clayton (1960).
Hit version by Peter Paul & Mary (US #9/MOR #2 1963). The Wonder Who? (parodied as “Don’t Think Twice” US #12 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ was written by Bob Dylan in 1962, recorded on November 14 that year, and released on the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and as a single in August 1963. There were other, earlier recordings and releases prior to Dylan’s because of the music’s availability via Witmark Publishing Co. Bobby Darin first recorded the song in July 1962, four months before Dylan. The New World Singers (‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘) released their version one month prior Dylan, in July 1963.

“The cover recording by Peter, Paul & Mary, released in September 1963 (entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #67), was the second consecutive Dylan song released as singles – preceded by ‘Blowin’ in the Wind‘ – from the album In the Wind.

“The Four Seasons released a cover of the song as a single in 1965 (with the title “Don’t Think Twice”) under the pseudonym The Wonder Who?, one of a handful of ‘names’ used by the group at that time. On the heels of recording a live album of Broadway tunes (to complete the settlement of the group’s lawsuit with Vee-Jay Records), Valli, Crewe, and Gaudio had planned on recording an album consisting entirely of songs written by Bob Dylan. But, as recording progressed, the concept was modified to include songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Valli was not happy with his vocals on the various takes of ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ when he decided to record the song with a ‘joke’ falsetto vocal to reduce the tension in the studio. An executive of Philips Records heard a replay of the recording with the ‘joke’ vocal and wanted it to be released as a single.

“Sold in a picture sleeve with a connect the dots puzzle, the record with the truncated name (‘Don’t Think Twice’) was released as by ‘The Wonder Who?’ in November 1965. As the single was sliding down the chart in January 1966, after peaking at #12, a Frankie Valli ‘solo’ single (‘(You’re Gonna) Hurt Yourself’) and a Four Seasons single (‘Working My Way Back to You’) were also in the upper half of the chart, giving three simultaneous hit records by the group under different guises.”

Stewball

First recorded by Lead Belly (1940).
Also recorded by Woody Guthrie (1944), Lonnie Donegan (1956), The Weavers (1960), John Herald & The Greenbriar Boys (1961).
Hit version by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #35/MOR #17 1963).

From the wiki: “There are two major but different arrangements of the sporting ballad, generally titled either ‘Skewball’ or ‘Stewball’; the latter spelling is more popular in America. Versions date at least as far back as the 18th century. In most versions of ‘Stewball’ the winning horse triumphs due to the stumbling of the lead horse; ‘Skewball’ wins simply by being the faster horse in the end. The oldest broadside identified with the ballad is dated 1784 and is held by the Harding Collection of the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford. The song spread to America by 1829 when it was published in a songbook in Hartford. American versions were sung and adapted by slaves in the Southern United States, and have ‘Stewball’ racing in California, Texas, or Kentucky.

If I Had a Hammer

First recorded (as “The Hammer Song”) by The Weavers (1950).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #10 1962), Trini Lopez (US #3 1963).

From the wiki: “‘If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)’ was written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers in 1950. It was not particularly successful in commercial terms when it was first released. (The song was first performed publicly by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays on June 3, 1949, at St. Nicholas Arena in New York City at a testimonial dinner for the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States. It was later part of the three songs Seeger played as the warm-up act for Paul Robeson’s September 4, 1949, concert near Peekskill, New York, which subsequently erupted into a riot.)

“‘If I Had a Hammer’ went on to become a Top-10 hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962, and then went to #3 a year later when recorded by Trini Lopez.”

Early Morning Rain

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.”

Blowin’ in the Wind

First released by The New World Singers (January 1963).
Also released by The Chad Mitchell Trio (March 1963), Bob Dylan (May 1963), Marlene Dietrich (1963).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #2/UK #13 1963), Stan Getz (US #110 1964), Stevie Wonder (US #9/R&B #1 1966).

From The Originals: “The timeline of ‘first’ recordings and releases of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ can sure be a more than confusing. Some sources date the New World Singers’ recording to September 1963, four months after Dylan’s was released. That is patently wrong, however. The New World Singers’ version appeared on a compilation of ‘topical songs’ called Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 which apparently was released on 1 January 1963 on Broadside Records, the recording arm of the folk magazine (you guessed it) Broadside, which was founded by Pete Seeger and printed the lyrics of the song in May 1962. The Chad Mitchell Trio, sometimes credited with recording the song first, released the song on their In Action LP in March 1963.

And When I Die

First commercial recording by Peter, Paul & Mary (1966).
Also recorded by Laura Nyro (demo 1966 |1967).
Hit version by Blood, Sweat & Tears (US #2/NZ #1 1969).

From the wiki: “‘And When I Die’ was written by Laura Nyro and first recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1966 after listening to Nyro’s rough demo. Nyro produced a studio recording for her own 1967 debut album More Than a New Discovery. However, the song is probably best known for the recording by Blood, Sweat & Tears, which reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

First recorded by Peggy Seeger (1957).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1962). Performed by Peter, Paul & Mary (1965).
Hit version by Roberta Flack (recorded 1969, US #1/UK #14 1972).

From the wiki: “‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ is a 1957 folk song written by British political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who would later become his wife, to sing. At the time the couple were lovers, although MacColl was married to someone else. Seeger sang the song when the duo performed in folk clubs around Britain. During the 1960s, it was recorded by various folk singers and became a major international hit for Roberta Flack in 1972 (after its original album release, on First Take in 1969) following the song’s inclusion in the 1971 movie Play Misty for Me.

Freight Train

First popular version recorded by The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group (UK #5, 1956).
Other popular versions by Rusty Draper (US #3, 1957), Elizabeth Cotten, writer (1958), Peter, Paul & Mary (1963).

From the wiki: “In late 1956, whilst recording the song ‘Freight Train’ – written by folk blues singer Elizabeth Cotten (1893-1987) – for Oriole Records, studio owner Bill Varley suggested The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group should add a female singer. As a result, folk singer Nancy Whiskey was invited to join the group, and they re-recorded the song with her vocals. The record became a hit in the UK in 1957 at the height of the skiffle boom, reaching #5 in the UK Singles Chart.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

First recorded (as “Babe, I Hate to Go”) by John Denver (1966).
First broadcast (as “Babe, I Hate to Go”) on WAVA-FM’s Hootenanny at The Cellar Door (1966).
Hit version by Peter, Paul & Mary (recorded 1967/US #1 1969 single release).
Also recorded by The Mitchell Trio (1967), Spanky & Our Gang (1967), John Denver (1969 |1973).

From the wiki: “Chad Mitchell left his trio in 1965 to embark on a solo singing career. An audition process that followed, and which saw 300 musicians try-out, replaced Mitchell with the young (and unknown) singer-songwriter John Denver. The group retained the well-known ‘Mitchell Trio’ name – with Denver writing some of the group’s songs, including ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ (found on The Mitchell Trio’s 1967 album Alive!). The song was first recorded in 1966 by John Denver with the title ‘Babe, I Hate to Go’. He remembers composing the song in 1966 during a layover at Washington airport, ‘Not so much from feeling that way for someone, but from the longing of having someone to love.’

“A year earlier, in 1966, ‘Babe, I Hate to Go’ was among fifteen songs Denver recorded himself and, with his own money, had 250 copies pressed onto vinyl and distributed to friends and family. Later that year, while engaged to perform at The Cellar Door in Washington, D.C., Denver performed the song on a live radio broadcast on WAVA-FM, hosted by disc-jockey Dick Cerri for his program Hootenanny, where Denver was backed by fellow Trio guitarist, Bob Hefferan (and handled a heckler in the audience). It was John’s second time singing the song in public and the first radio broadcast of it. (In 1969, Denver would again record the song for his debut solo album, Rhymes & Reasons, and re-recorded it again in 1973 for John Denver’s Greatest Hits.)

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