Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Ray Stevens

Sunday Morning Coming Down

First recorded by Ray Stevens (US #81/C&W #55 1969).
Other hit version by Johnny Cash (C&W #1 1970).
Also recorded by Kris Kristofferson (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’ was written by Kris Kristofferson and was first recorded in 1969 by Ray Stevens, for his album Kristofferson, whose production reached #55 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and #81 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

“The most successful version of the song originated from a Johnny Cash performance, taped live at the Grand Ole Opry’s Ryman Auditorium during a July 1970 recording his CBS TV variety show, The Johnny Cash Show, as part of a ‘Ride This Train’ segment, which was broadcast as the first episode of the Season Two. A companion album was then released by CBS Records in October 1970, with ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ issued as the promotional single. Both the album and the single topped the Country music charts, and won the Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year in 1970.

Misty

First recorded by The Erroll Garner Trio (1954).
Also recorded by Dakota Staton (1957).
Hit versions by Sarah Vaughn (US #106 1959), Johnny Mathis (US #12/R&B #10/UK #12 1959), Lloyd Price (US #21/R&B #11 1963), The Vibrations (US #63/R&B #26 1965), “Groove” Holmes (US #44/MOR #7/R&B #12 1965), Ray Stevens (US #14/MOR #8/C&W #3/UK #2 1975).

From the wiki: “‘Misty’ was written by Errol Garner in 1954 and first recorded for his 1955 album Contrasts. The song was later paired with lyrics by Johnny Burke and would becoame the signature song of Johnny Mathis. Garner’s recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1991; Mathis’s version of the song was inducted in 2002.

“Lyrics to the song were written by Johnny Burke a couple of years later. According to Mary Burke Kramer:

‘[Johnny] had been working every day with his pianist, Herb Mesick, who was helping him put things down on paper. Herb had heard the melody to ‘Misty,’ and knew Erroll Garner, and was very fond of it. He told Johnny about it, but by that time, Johnny had made a decision not to collaborate anymore. After he and Jimmy Van Heusen had separated, on good terms, he had been working on his own writing both music and lyrics. Herb was very persistent. Whenever Johnny would enter the room, Herb would start playing the tune. Finally, Johnny said, ‘Alright, give me the damn music, and I’ll do it. So he went into the bedroom, and two or three hours later, he came out with the lyrics.’

Making ‘Misty’: The Legendary Johnny Mathis Recording, by Joe Manning, 2010

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