Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Carpenters

Man Smart (Woman Smarter)

Written and first recorded by King Radio (1937).
Hit version by Robert Palmer (US #63 1976).
Also recorded by Harry Belfonte (1956), Robert Mitchum (1957), The Carpenters (1977).

From the wiki: “The Calypso song ‘Man Smart (Woman Smarter)’ was written and first recorded by King Radio (Norman Span) in 1937. Variations of the song have been recorded by many artists including Harry Belafonte, Chubby Checker, Rosanne Cash, Robert Mitchum, and The Carpenters. Robert Palmer charted in the Billboard Hot 100 with his 1976 cover recording. ‘Man Smart (Woman Smarter)’ was also a staple of the live repertoire of the Grateful Dead from 1981 to 1995.”

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)

Based on “Gran Prairie” by Happy Fats & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (1940).
Hit versions by Hank Williams (US #20/C&W #1 1952), Jo Stafford (US #3 1952), Fats Domino (US #30 1961), Blue Ridge Rangers (#16 1973), The Carpenters (UK #12 1974).

From the wiki: “The melody of ‘Jambalaya’ is based on the Cajun song ‘Gran Prairie’, first recorded in 1940 by Happy Fats & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers. While ‘Gran Prairie’ is a song about a lost love, the lyrics written by Hank Williams for ‘Jambalaya’ are about life, parties and stereotypical Cajun foods. Released in July 1952, crediting Williams as the sole author (there is some dispute, whether the lyrics were co-written with Moon Mullican), it reached #1 on the US Country music charts and stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks. Jo Stafford’s cover peaked at #3 on the Pop music charts, further popularizing the song. Other popular recordings were later charted by Fats Domino, and Blue Ridge Rangers (John Fogerty). The Carpenters released their 1974 recording of ‘Jambalaya’ as an overseas single, with chart success in the UK, Japan, Mexico, Holland and Germany.”

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

First recorded by Margaret Whiting (1947).
Other popular versions by The Les Paul Trio (1947), The Orioles (R&B #9 1949), Billy Ward & The Dominoes (1953), Ella Fitzgerald (1960), Danté & The Evergreens (US #106 1960), Nancy Wilson (XMAS #17 1965 |XMAS #24 1967), The Carpenters (1985), Rufus Wainwright (2005), Zooey Dechanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2011).

From the wiki: “‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?’ was written in 1947 by Frank Loesser as an ‘independent song’ — not written for a particular movie or musical. Loesser was an American songwriter who wrote the lyrics and music to the Broadway hits Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, among others. He won separate Tony Awards for the music and lyrics in both shows, as well as sharing the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the latter, and was nominated for five Academy Awards for best song, winning once, for ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside‘. Among Loesser’s other notable songs: ‘Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition’, ‘Heart and Soul’, ‘On a Slow Boat to China’, and ‘Luck Be a Lady Tonight’.”

Top of the World

First recorded by The Carpenters (JPN #21 1972).
First hit version by Lynn Anderson (C&W #2 1973).
Other hit version by The Carpenters (US #1/UK #5/CAN #1/IRE #3 1973).

From the wiki: “‘Top of the World’ is a 1972 song by The Carpenter originally recorded for and released on the duo’s 1972 studio album A Song for You. Co-written by Richard Carpenter with lyricist John Bettis (‘Human Nature’, ‘Slow Hand’), ‘Top of the World’ was intended to be only an album cut for the Carpenters. The original album recording was released as a single in Japan in 1972, where it peaked at #21 on the Orion music chart. Soon after its album release, Country singer Lynn Anderson covered the song and was the first to release it as a US single.

Sing

First performed by The Kids of Sesame Street (1970).
Hit versions by Barbra Streisand (MOR #28 1972), The Carpenters (US #3/UK #53/JPN #1 1973).

(Above is from a 1971 broadcast of Sesame Street.)

From the wiki: “”Sing” is a popular song created for Sesame Street, written by staff songwriter Joe Raposo for the popular children’s TV show. In its initial appearance, the song was sung by adult human cast members of the show (the most frequent lead singer was Bob McGrath), and Muppets, including Big Bird.

“Although Barbra Streisand had an Easy Listening hit with ‘Sing’ (in medley with ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’) in 1972 with ‘Sing’, Karen and Richard Carpenter first heard the song as guests on ABC television special Robert Young with the Young in 1973. They loved the song and felt it could be a big hit. ‘Sing’ became the debut single off The Carpenters album Now & Then, released in 1973.”

We’ve Only Just Begun

First debuted by Paul Williams (TV commercial 1969).
Hit version by The Carpenters (US #2/UK #28/CAN #1 1970).
Also recorded by Smokey Roberds (1970), Curtis Mayfield (1971).

From the wiki: “‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ was written by Roger Nichols (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics). The song debuted in a wedding-themed TV commercial for Crocker National Bank in California with Williams on vocals. The first commercial single release was originally recorded by Smokey Roberds under the name ‘Freddie Allen’. Roberds had heard the commercial so phoned his friend Nichols, ascertained that he had indeed co-written it, and asked Nichols to create a full-length version. Nichols and Williams did so, with Roberds intending to produce it for a band he had just signed to White Whale Records. The band deal fell through; Roberds decided to record the song himself, but couldn’t do so under his stage name for contractual reasons. According to Roberds, his Country-Pop recording of ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ did well in California but not nationally – which he attributed to promotion and distribution problems.

I Won’t Last a Day Without You

Written and first single release by Paul Williams (1973).
Hit versions by Maureen McGovern (US #84/MOR #19 1973), Diana Ross (B-side US #1 1973), The Carpenters (1972 |US #11/MOR #1/UK #9/CAN #7/JPN #40 1974).

From the wiki: “‘I Won’t Last a Day Without You’ was co-written by Paul Williams (‘We’ve Only Just Begun’) and Roger Nichols. He released his version as a single in 1973, but garnered only minor success. Maureen McGovern recorded the song and also released it as a single in 1973 (and included on her album The Morning After), with results similar to those of Williams. Diana Ross covered the song for her 1973 album Touch Me in the Morning, and it was released as the B-side of the title track single release, ‘Touch Me in the Morning’, which became a #1 hit.

“It was in 1972 when Richard Carpenter first learned of the new song from Williams and Nichols, who had already contributed ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ and ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ to the Carpenters. Carpenter produced the recording that was included it on the Carpenters’ 1972 album A Song for You, but it would not be released as a single until 1974 when it would go US Top-20 and Top-10 in the UK and Canada.

An Old Fashioned Love Song

Written and first recorded by Paul Williams (1971).
Hit version by Three Dog Night (US #4/MOR #1/CAN #2 1971).

From the wiki: “‘An Old Fashioned Love Song’ was written by the noted songwriter Paul Williams, who originally intended the song for The Carpenters, and it was first recorded by Williams for his album Just an Old Fashioned Love Song. Although this was the first song Williams had written specifically for the Carpenters, Richard Carpenter rejected it, and so Williams offered the song to Three Dog Night. The Carpenters never recorded the song, but did perform it live on television with Carol Burnett a few months later.”

This Masquerade

Written and first recorded by Leon Russell (B-side US #11/CAN #5 1972).
Also recorded by Helen Reddy (1972).
Hit versions by The Carpenters (B-side US #1/UK #2/CAN #1/AUS #1 1973), George Benson (US #10/R&B #3 1976).

From the wiki: “‘This Masquerade’ was written by Leon Russell (‘A Song for You‘), and first appeared on the B-side of the single ‘Tight Rope’ from Russell’s 1972 hit album Carney. Known mostly as a session musician early in his career, as a solo artist Russell crossed genres to include Rock and Roll, Blues, and Gospel music. As a first call studio musician in Los Angeles, Russell played on many of the most popular songs of the 1960s as a member of the Wrecking Crew, including Glen Campbell’s 1967 hit single ‘Gentle on My Mind‘, where Russell was credited on piano as ‘Russell Bridges’.

Superstar

Co-written and first recorded (as “Groupie (Superstar)”) by Delaney & Bonnie (1969).
Also recorded by Rita Coolidge (1970), Bette Midler (1970 |1972).
Hit versions by The Carpenters (US #2/CAN #3/JPN #7 1971), Luther Vandross (US #87/R&B #5 1983).

From the wiki: “Accounts of the song’s origin vary somewhat, but it grew out of the late 1969-early 1970 nexus of English and American musicians known as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, involving Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, and various others. The song’s working title during portions of its development was ‘Groupie Song’. In its first recorded incarnation, the song was titled ‘Groupie (Superstar)’, and was recorded and released as a B-side to the Delaney & Bonnie single ‘Comin’ Home’ in December 1969.

It’s Gonna Take Some Time

Co-written and first recorded by Carole King (1971).
Hit version by The Carpenters (US #12/CAN #12/JPN #48 1972).

From the wiki: “‘It’s Going to Take Some Time’ is a song written by Carole King and Toni Stern for King’s 1971 album, Music. It was redone by the Carpenters in 1972 for their fourth album, A Song for You. According to Richard Carpenter, he had to choose which songs he wanted to remake, and there was a big pile of 7″ singles he had to listen to. When he encountered ‘It’s Going to Take Some Time’, he knew it would be a hit, and The Carpenters recorded it. The song peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Touch Me When We’re Dancing

Written and first recorded by Bama (US #86/MOR #42 1979).
Hit versions by The Carpenters (US #16/MOR #1 1981), Alabama (C&W #1 1986).
Also recorded by Mickey Gilley & Charly McClain (1984).

From the wiki: “‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’ is a song written by Terry Skinner, J. L. Wallace and Ken Bell. Skinner and Wallace headed the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, session group Bama, who first recorded the song and released it as a single in 1979.

A Song for You

Written and first recorded by Leon Russell (1970).
Hit versions by Andy Williams (MOR #29 1971), The Carpenters (1972), Ray Charles (US #104/MOR #9/R&B #57 1993), Herbie Hancock & Christina Aguilera (US #19 2005).
Also recorded by Donny Hathaway (1971), Dusty Springfield (1972).

From the wiki: “‘A Song for You’ was recorded Leon Russell for his debut album, Leon Russell, originally intending for it to be recorded by Rita Coolidge. It has been called ‘an American classic’ by Elton John (who sang ‘Song for You’ as an intro to a medley of his own songs ‘Blue Eyes’ and ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues’ on his 1986 tour). One of the first versions of the song that brought the song broader attention was by Andy Williams, in 1972. The Carpenters’ version, while not released as a single, was the title track to their 1972 hit album A Song for You (#4 on the Billboard album chart; three Top-10 singles). Dusty Springfield recorded her version of ‘A Song for You’ for possible inclusion on the album See All Her Faces (1972) but the track went unreleased until 1996. Ray Charles recorded a poignant version of the song on his 1993 album My World. Released as a single, it reached #4 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles but still won for him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.”

(They Long to Be) Close to You

First recorded (as “They Long to Be Close to You”) by Richard Chamberlain (1963).
Also recorded by Dionne Warwick (B-side 1964), Dusty Springfield (1964, released 1967), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1968, released 2005).
Hit version by The Carpenters (US #1/UK #6/CAN #1 1970).

From the wiki: “‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’ is a popular song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was first recorded by Richard Chamberlain and released as a single in 1963 as ‘They Long to Be Close to You’ (without parentheses). However, it was the single’s flip side, ‘Blue Guitar’, that became a hit.

For All We Know

Originally recorded by Larry Meredith (1970).
Hit versions by Shirley Bassey (UK #6 1971) and The Carpenters (US #3/MOR #1/UK #18/CAN #7 1971).

From the wiki: “‘For All We Know’ is a popular song written by Fred Karlin, Robb Wilson (Robb Royer) and Arthur James (Jimmy Griffin) for the 1970 film Lovers and Other Strangers, and for which it won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was originally performed by Larry Meredith for the movie soundtrack. Two of the songwriters, Royer and Griffin, were co-founders of the band Bread with David Gates.

Hurting Each Other

First recorded by Jimmy Clanton (1965).
Also recorded by Ruth Lewis (1966), The Walker Brothers (1966).
Hit versions by Chad Allan & The Expressions (CAN #19 1965), Ruby & The Romantics (US #113 1969), The Carpenters (US #2/MOR #1 1972).

From the wiki: “The earliest version of the song was recorded by Jimmy Clanton, the singer from New Orleans known as the ‘swamp pop R&B teenage idol’, in February 1965, produced by the song authors, Gary Geld and Peter Udell. He rode the crest of the popular teen music wave in the 1950s and 1960s. Seven of his records, including ‘Go, Jimmy, Go’, ‘Just a Dream’, and ‘Venus in Blue Jeans’, charted in the U.S. Top 40.

“Chad Allan & The Expressions, who later became The Guess Who, also recorded the song in 1965 on their Canadian LP Hey Ho (What You Do to Me). Released as a single, the song hit #19 on the Canadian charts in early 1966. In June 1966, a version by Ruth Lewis, produced again by the song’s writers, Geld and Udell, was released as a single by RCA Victor records. A version of ‘Hurting Each Other’ also appeared on The Walker Brothers’ second album, Portrait, which was released in November 1966 but their recording was not released as a single. However, ‘Hurting Each Other’ was the final single released by Ruby & The Romantics (‘Hey There, Lonely Girl‘) before the group’s break-up in 1969.

Solitaire (The Carpenters)

Written and first recorded by Neil Sedaka (1972).
Hit versions by Andy Williams (MOR #23/UK #4 1974), The Carpenters (US #17/MOR #1/UK #32 1975), Elvis Presley (1976 |C&W #10 1979).
Also recorded by The Searchers (1973).

The video above is from a 1975 Sedaka concert performance.

From the wiki: “Neil Sedaka recorded ‘Solitaire’ as the title cut for a 1972 album recorded at Strawberry Studios, Manchester: 10cc members Lol Creme, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman accompanied Sedaka while Eric Stewart also of 10cc engineered the session.

Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again

First recorded by The Carpenters (1975) but not released until 1994.
Also recorded by David Pomeranz, composer (1975), Gene Pitney (1975).
Hit versions by Barry Manilow (US #10/MOR #1 1976), The Carpenters (UK #44 1994).

From the wiki: “‘Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again’ was written for The Carpenters by David Pomeranz, who also recorded his own version of it in 1975, for his 1976 album It’s In Everyone Of Us. The Carpenters’ version of ‘Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again’ was taped during the Horizon recording sessions in 1975, but was shelved for being ‘one too many ballads.’ Seven years after production wrapped on the song, Richard was looking for songs to include on Voice of the Heart – the first album released after Karen’s untimely death in 1983. According to Richard, the basic but uncompleted rhythm tracks were located but it was thought any recording of Karen’s vocal had been permanently lost. Even though the final production vocal intended for the release of the record had been recorded over and was gone, Richard did find a ‘work lead’ in its place – hidden away on a master tape that also contained the song ‘Only Yesterday’.

I Just Fall in Love Again

First recorded by The Carpenters (1977).
Also recorded by Dusty Springfield (1978).
Hit version by Anne Murray (US #12/C&W #1/UK #58/CAN #1 1979).

From the wiki: “The song was originally recorded by The Carpenters and later covered by Dusty Springfield, whose version inspired Anne Murray to record her own cover.

Can’t Smile Without You

First recorded by David Martin (1975).
First released by The Carpenters (1976).
Also recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck (1976).
Hit version by Barry Manilow (US #3/MOR #1 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Can’t Smile Without You’ was written by David Martin, Christian Arnold and Geoff Morrow, and was first recorded by Martin in 1975. The Carpenters covered the song on their 1976 album A Kind of Hush, and it was featured as the B-side of their hit ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’ the following year. Engelbert Humperdinck also recorded the song in 1976, using the same lyrics as the original Carpenters version, on his After the Lovin’ album.

“‘Can’t Smile Without You’ was the first single to be released from Barry Manilow’s 1978 album Even Now, reaching the #1 spot on Billboard’s MOR chart and the #3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.”

Let Me Be the One

Originally recorded by Cathy Carlson (1970).
Also recorded by Petula Clark (1971).
Hit album version by The Carpenters (1971).

From the wiki: “A native of Ontario, Oregon, Cathy Carlson appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, and on the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy as a regular performer for several years. Carlson and Lewis were good friends and he was her daughter’s godfather. ‘Let Me Be the One’ (co-written by Paul Williams) was recorded in December 1970 and released in 1971 as the B-side to ‘God Bless the Child’.”

There’s a Kind of Hush

Originally recorded by The New Vaudeville Band (1966).
Also recorded by Gary & The Hornets (1966).
Hit versions by Herman’s Hermits (US #4/UK #7/CAN #2/AUS #5/SGP #2 1967), The Carpenters (US #12/MOR #1/UK #22/CAN #8 1976).

From the wiki: “The song was introduced on the 1966 album Winchester Cathedral by Geoff Stephens’ group, The New Vaudeville Band; like that group’s hit ‘Winchester Cathedral’, ‘There’s a Kind of Hush’ was conceived as a neo-British music hall number although it is a less overt proponent of that style.

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