Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Simon & Garfunkel

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Written and first recorded by Simon & Garfunkel (1966).
Hit version by Harpers Bizarre (US #13 1967).

From the wiki: “‘The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)’ was written by Paul Simon and first recorded by Simon & Garfunkel, appearing on their 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. ’59th Street Bridge’ is the colloquial name of the Queensboro Bridge in New York City. The most popular cover version of the song was recorded in 1967 by Harpers Bizarre, reaching #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

El Condor Pasa

First recorded by Orquesta del Zoológico (1917).
Also recorded by Los Incas (1963).
Hit version by Simon & Garfunkel (US #18/AUS #1/GER #1 1970).

From the wiki: “‘El Cóndor Pasa’ (Spanish for ‘The Condor Passes’) is an orchestral musical piece from the operetta El Cóndor Pasa by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles, written in 1913 and based on a traditional Andean folk tune.

“In 1965, the American musician Paul Simon listened for the first time to the version of the melody of the Los Incas band performance that took place at the Théâtre de l’Est parisien (Paris) in which both participated. Simon asked the band permission to use it in his production, to which the band replied that the song was a melody belonging to Robles and arranged by Los Incas’ director Jorge Milchberg. However, when the song was released on the album Bridge Over Troubled Water only Simon was listed as the author. Also, Simon & Garfunkel had used without permission the Los Incas’ 1963 recording as their instrumental arrangement.

Scarborough Fair

First recorded by Gordon Heath & Lee Payant (1955).
Also recorded by Audrey Coppard (1956), Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger (1957), Martin Carthy (1965), Marianne Faithfull (1966).
Hit versions by Simon & Garfunkel (US #11/MOR #5 1966), Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (US #16/MOR #2 1968).

From the wiki: “‘Scarborough Fair’ is a traditional English ballad about the Yorkshire town of Scarborough. The earliest commercial recording of the ballad was by Gordon Heath and Lee Payant, expatriate Americans who operated a café and nightclub, L’Abbaye, on the Rive Gauche in Paris, for their album An Evening at the Abbaye in 1955, using an 1891 melody by Frank Kidson (a folk song collector from Leeds). The same arrangement was also included on A. L. Lloyd’s 1955 album The English And Scottish Popular Ballads. Lloyd

“But, the version using the melody later developed by Simon & Garfunkel in ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’ was first recorded on a 1956 album, English Folk Songs, by Audrey Coppard. This arrangement was also recorded by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger (‘Killing Me Softly with His Song‘) on The Singing Island (1957) (but it is likely that it was Coppard who learned the song from MacColl, who had published a book of Teesdale folk songs after hearing the song sung in the 1940s). In April 1966, Marianne Faithfull (‘As Tears Go By‘) recorded and released her own take on ‘Scarborough Fair’ for her album North Country Maid about six months prior to Simon & Garfunkel’s release of their single version of the song in October 1966.

I Am a Rock

Written and first recorded by Paul Simon (1965).
Hit version by Simon & Garfunkel (US #3/UK #17 1966).

From the wiki: “‘I Am a Rock’ was written by Paul Simon, and first recorded by Simon solo as the opening track on his album The Paul Simon Songbook which he originally recorded and released as a solo performance in August 1965 but only in the United Kingdom. Later that year, Simon and Art Garfunkel, as the American pop/folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, re-recorded the song on December 14, 1965, and included it as the final track on their album Sounds of Silence. ‘I Am a Rock’ became the duo’s third Top 5 hit in the US when released as a single in May 1966.”

Silent Night

First recorded (as “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”) by Trompeter Quartett (1892).
First English-language recording by Edison Male Quartette (1905).
Popular versions by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra (US #6 1928), Bing Crosby (US #16 1941), The Ravens (R&B #8 1948), Simon & Garfunkel (as “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night”, 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Silent Night’ (German: ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011. ‘Stille Nacht’ was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village on the Salzach river. In 1859, the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, then serving at Trinity Church, New York City, published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Written by Paul Simon and first recorded by Simon & Garfunkel (US #13/UK #30 1968).
Other hit version (as “Hazy Shade of Winter”) by The Bangles (US #2/UK #11/CAN #3/AUS #7 1987).

From the wiki: “‘A Hazy Shade of Winter’ was written by Paul Simon, recorded and released by Simon & Garfunkel in 1966, and then included on their 1968 album, Bookends (although it also appeared on their Live from New York City, 1967).

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