Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Kingston Trio

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. ”

Sloop John B.

First recorded (as “Histe Up the John B.”) by Cleveland Simmons Group (1935).
First popular version recorded (as “The Wreck of the John B.”) by The Weavers (1950).
Also recorded by Blind Blake Higgs (1952), The Kingston Trio (1958), Johnny Cash (1959), Jimmie Rodgers (1960), Dick Dale & His Del-Tones (1962).
Hit version (titled “The Sloop John B.”) by The Beach Boys (US #3/UK #2 1966).

From the wiki: “According to Blind Blake Higgs, the Bahamanian calypso entertainer, the John B had been a sponger boat that one day went under. That’s not so unusual, all thing considered. So, what made this tragedy so special? One possible explanation is the name of the vessel: to illiterate ears, ‘John B’ sounds like ‘Zombie’. So, when said sloop vanished with no one returning, that’s the stuff where legends are made of.

“The popularity of the song triggered interest in the wreck’s whereabouts. The hull was found and rescued from under the sands of Governor’s Harbor in 1926. John T. McCutcheon, philosopher and cartoonist on holiday with his wife in the West Indies at that time, learned the song and brought the song to New York where poet Carl Sandberg collected it for his songbook The American Songbag (1927).

(Let’s) Get Together

First recorded (as a demo) by Dino Valenti (1964, released 1996).
First commercial release by The Kingston Trio (1964).
Also recorded by Jet Set (1964), Jefferson Airplane (1966), H.P. Lovecraft (1967).
Hit versions by We Five (US #31 1965), The Youngbloods (US #62 1967| US #5 1969), Dave Clark Five (UK #8 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Get Together’, also known as ‘Let’s Get Together’, was written in the early 1960s by American singer-songwriter Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti). The song was originally recorded and released as ‘Let’s Get Together’ by The Kingston Trio in 1964 on their album Back in Town. The first cover to break into the Top 40 in 1965 was recorded by We Five as the follow-up to their Top 10 hit ‘You Were on My Mind’. The Youngbloods released their version of the song under the title ‘Get Together’. It became a minor Hot 100 hit for them, peaking at #62 in 1967. However, renewed interest in the Youngbloods’ version came about in 1969 when it was used in a radio public service ad campaign by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Re-released to radio in 1969, The Youngbloods’ version peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, a cover by The Dave Clark Five titled ‘Everybody Come Together’ went Top 10.

Four Strong Winds

Written by Ian Tyson and first recorded by Ian & Sylvia (1963).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1963).
Hit versions by Bobby Bare (C&W #3 1965), Neil Young (US #61/UK #57 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Four Strong Winds’ was written by Canadian songwriter Ian Tyson and first recorded by Tyson and his folk singing partner, Sylvia Fricker. Released as a single in September 1963, preceding the Four Strong Winds album release in April 1964. the song did not generate any chart momentum. It was then recorded by The Brothers Four in a version that ‘bubbled under’ the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1963.

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.”

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

First recorded by Peggy Seeger (1957).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1962). Performed by Peter, Paul & Mary (1965).
Hit version by Roberta Flack (recorded 1969, US #1/UK #14 1972).

From the wiki: “‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ is a 1957 folk song written by British political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who would later become his wife, to sing. At the time the couple were lovers, although MacColl was married to someone else. Seeger sang the song when the duo performed in folk clubs around Britain. During the 1960s, it was recorded by various folk singers and became a major international hit for Roberta Flack in 1972 (after its original album release, on First Take in 1969) following the song’s inclusion in the 1971 movie Play Misty for Me.

Jackson

First recorded by Billy Edd Wheeler (1963).
Also recorded bv The Kingston Trio (1963).
Hit versions by Johnny Cash & June Carter (C&W #2 1967), Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood (US #14 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Jackson’ is a song written in 1963 by Billy Edd Wheeler and Jerry Leiber, and first recorded by Wheeler. It is best known from two 1967 releases: a pop hit single by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood and a country hit single by Johnny Cash and June Carter.

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