Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Rod McKuen

Love’s Been Good to Me

Written and first released by Rod McKuen (1964).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1964), Mark Lindsay (1969).
Hit version by Frank Sinatra (US #75/MOR #8/UK #8 1969).

From the wiki: “Rod McKuen wrote over 1,500 songs, including ‘Love’s Been Good to Me’, ‘Seasons in the Sun‘, and ‘Jean‘, which have accounted for the sale of over 100 million records worldwide according to the Associated Press. First recorded in 1964 by McKuen, The Kingston Trio covered the song for the album The Kingston Trio (Nick Bob John). In 1969, Frank Sinatra commissioned an entire album of poems and songs by McKuen; arranged by Don Costa, it was released under the title A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen. The album featured the song ‘Love’s Been Good to Me’, which was to become one of McKuen’s best-known songs. ”

Jean

Written and first recorded by Rod McKuen (1969).
Hit version by Oliver (US #2 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Jean’ was written by the American poet and composer Rod McKuen (‘Seasons in the Sun‘) who first recorded the song in 1969 as the theme to the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. ‘Jean’ would go to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song. Although released as a single in the summer of 1969, McKuen’s version of the song failed to reach the American music charts. A cover of ‘Jean’ would later be released in 1969 by Oliver, selected as the follow-up single to Oliver’s hit ‘Good Morning Starshine’. Of the ‘Jean’ recording, Oliver would recall: ‘We had no idea it would be a [hit] single. It was a 3/4 ballad in the psychedelic era … it was a beautiful arrangement.'”

Seasons in the Sun

Recorded (in English) by The Kingston Trio (1963).
Adapted from “L’e Moribond” by Jacques Brel & Rod McKuen (1961).
Also recorded by Rod McKuen (1964), The Beach Boys (1973).
Hit version by Terry Jacks (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1 1974).

From the wiki: “‘Seasons in the Sun’ is an English-language adaptation of the 1961 song ‘L’e Moribond’ by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel with English lyrics by American singer-poet Rod McKuen (‘Jean‘). The original French-language song included sarcasm and references to the speaker’s wife’s infidelity.

“The Kingston Trio recording was the first cover version of McKuen’s translation in 1963. McKuen would include a performance of his own work on the 1964 album Rod McKuen Sings Jacques Brel.

“Terry Jacks recorded his version in Vancouver in 1973, making the decision to record the song when The Beach Boys, who had recorded their own version of it with Terry Jacks producing, decided to abandon their recording. Jacks recorded it instead and released it in 1974 on his label, Goldfish Records.

“The Jacks version is one of the fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) physical copies worldwide.”

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