Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: The Byrds

You Showed Me

First recorded by The Jet Set (1964).
Hit versions by The Turtles (US #6/CAN #1 1968), De La Soul (as “Transmitting Live from Mars” 1989), Salt N Pepa (US #47/UK #15 1990), The Lightning Seeds (UK #8 1997).

From the wiki: “‘You Showed Me’ was written by Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark of The Byrds in 1964 at a time when the pair were performing as a duo at The Troubadour and other folk clubs in and around Los Angeles. McGuinn and Clark soon formed a trio with David Crosby and named themselves The Jet Set. The Jet Set trio were rehearsing at World Pacific Studios under the guidance of their manager Jim Dickson, and it was there many of group’s rehearsal sessions were recorded, including ‘You Showed Me’. However, the song was soon abandoned by the group, who had by now changed their name to The Byrds, and it was not included on their debut album for Columbia Records, Mr. Tambourine Man.

“In 1968 the song was recorded by The Turtles, for the album The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, and was also released as a single in 1968. ‘You Showed Me’ had been introduced to The Turtles by their producer and former bass player, Chip Douglas, who himself had first become acquainted with the song after hearing Clark, McGuinn and Crosby perform it at The Troubadour in 1964. Douglas had also performed the song with Clark during 1966, while he was a member of Gene Clark and the Group.

Willin’

First recorded by Johnny Darrell (1970).
Also recorded by The Byrds (1970, released 2000), Seatrain (1970).
Album hit versions by Little Feat (1971 |1972 |1978), Linda Ronstadt (1974).

From the wiki: ‘Willin” was written by Lowell George, of Little Feat, but first recorded in the spring of 1970 by Johnny Darrell for his album California Stop-Over. The song is about a truck driver in the American southwest who makes some extra cash smuggling cigarettes and transporting illegals across the border from Mexico. George’s opening line, in which the narrator describes himself as being ‘warped by the rain,’ originated in a conversation between George and drummer Richie Hayward. Hayward had used it to describe a rocking chair. Prior to forming Little Feat, George was a member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. It is probable that this song was a reason for his departure, due to its drug references in the chorus. It is known that his leaving had something to do with his drug use, which Zappa heavily frowned upon.

See the Sky About to Rain

Written and first recorded by Neil Young (1971, released 2013).
Hit album version by The Byrds (1973).
Re-recorded by Neil Young (1974).

From the wiki: “‘See the Sky About to Rain’ was written by Neil Young, and first recorded by him in 1971. Recordings of Young’s 1970-71 solo concert tour were released in 2013 on the album Live from the Cellar Door. The Byrds, in 1973, were the first to commercially released the song (on Byrds). Young revisited his song in 1974 and re-recorded it for his 1974 album On the Beach.”

Mr. Tambourine Man

Recorded (as a demo) by The Jet Set (1964).
First commercial release by The Brothers Four (1965).
Hit version by The Byrds (US #1/UK #1 1965).

From the wiki: “In 1964, The Byrds – then known as The Jet Set – first recorded ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ as an audition demo prior to being signed to Columbia Records. Two other songs from the session (but not ‘Tambourine Man’) were released by Elektra Records in a one-off deal and had no chart impact. For the Columbia Records recording session leading to their first hit record, The Byrds did the vocals and lead guitar on the recording but session musicians (the infamous ‘Wrecking Crew‘) were brought in to play the other instruments. Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel and Glen Campbell were among the assorted session players used for The Byrds’ first recordings.

Hey Joe

First recorded by Billy Roberts (1961).
Popular versions by The Leaves (US #31 1966), The Jimi Hendrix Experience (UK #6 1966), Wilson Pickett (US #59/R&B #29/UK #16 1969), Willy DeVille (SPN #1 1992).
Also recorded by Tim Rose (1966), The Golden Cups (1968).

Billy Roberts, “Hey Joe” re-recording (1976?):

From the wiki: “Diverse credits and claims have led to confusion as to the song’s true authorship and genesis. But, the earliest known commercial recording of the song is the late-1965 single by the Los Angeles garage band The Leaves. The band re-recorded the track (for the third time) in 1966, releasing it as a follow-up single which became a hit. While claimed by the late Tim Rose to be a traditional Blues song (or often erroneously attributed to the pen of American musician Dino Valenti aka Chet Powers and Jesse Farrow), ‘Hey Joe’ was registered for copyright in the U.S. in 1962 by Billy Roberts. Producer Hal Resner has stated there is a live recording of Roberts performing ‘Hey Joe’, dating from around 1961.

From a Distance

First recorded by Nanci Griffith (1987).
Also recorded by Judy Collins (1989), The Byrds (1990).
Hit versions by Cliff Richard (UK #11/IRE #16 1990), Bette Midler (US #2/UK #6/AUS #8 1990).

From the wiki: “‘From a Distance’ was written in 1985 by American singer-songwriter Julie Gold. Gold was working as a secretary at the time for Home Box Office and writing songs in her free time. Gold’s friend, Christine Lavin, introduced the song to Nanci Griffith who was the first singer to record it, for her 1987 album Lone Star State of Mind. Griffith remembers Gold had sent her the song asking Griffith what was wrong with it, as Gold had already sent it to so many artists and record companies but no one wanted to produce a recording. Griffith answered that she loved it so much the moment she heard it that she wanted to record it’right then and there’.

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Written and first recorded by Bob Dylan (1965).
Hit versions by Them (1965 |GER #12 1973), The Byrds (from the Easy Rider soundtrack 1969).
Also recorded by Dion (1965), The Byrds (1965, released 1987), (as “Baby Blue”) by The Seldom Scene (1973), The Animals (1977).

Live performance, 1966:

From the wiki: “‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ was written and performed by Bob Dylan and featured on his 1965 Bringing It All Back Home album. The song was originally recorded with Dylan’s acoustic guitar and harmonica and William E. Lee’s bass guitar the only instrumentation. Dylan’s two previous albums, The Times They Are A-Changin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan both ended with a farewell song, ‘Restless Farewell’ and ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe’ respectively. ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ concludes Bringing It All Back Home in consistent fashion. Dylan played the song for Donovan in his hotel room during his May 1965 tour of England in a scene shown in the D. A. Pennebaker documentary Don’t Look Back; a version of the song is also included on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home. In a 2005 readers’ poll reported in Mojo, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ was listed as the #10 all-time-best Bob Dylan song.

Jesus is Just Alright

First recorded by The Art Reynolds Singers (1966).
Also recorded by The Byrds (US #97 1969).
Hit version by The Doobie Brothers (US #35 1972).

From the wiki: “‘Jesus Is Just Alright’ is a gospel song written by Arthur Reid Reynolds and first recorded by Reynolds’ own group, The Art Reynolds Singers, on their 1966 album, Tellin’ It Like It Is.

Turn! Turn! Turn!

First recorded (as “To Everything There is a Season”) by The Limeliters (1962).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (1962), Judy Collins (1963).
Hit version by The Byrds (US #1/UK #26 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)’, often abbreviated to ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’, is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and first recorded in 1962. The song was originally released as ‘To Everything There Is a Season’ on The Limeliters’ album Folk Matinee and later released then some months later on Seeger’s own album The Bitter and the Sweet.

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