Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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These Days

First recorded by Nico (1967).
Covered by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1968), Tom Rush (1970), Jennifer Warnes (1972), Ian Matthews (1973), Jackson Browne (1973), Gregg Allman (1973), Paul Westerberg (2003), Glen Campbell (2008), Jackson Browne & Gregg Allman (2014).

From the wiki: “‘These Days’ was written by Jackson Browne c. 1964, when he was 16-years old. German model, chanteuse and Warhol Superstar Nico was the first to record ‘These Days’ for release, on her October 1967 album Chelsea Girl. The elaborate production featured a fairly fast finger-picking electric guitar part by Browne. The use of that instrument was suggested by Andy Warhol.

“While Nico’smusic never achieved much commercial visibility, her work caught the attention of other musicians and songwriters. And, although Browne was still several years away from getting his own recording contract, his wise-beyond-his-years talent was quickly recognized by other performers looking for material.

“By 1973, Jackson Browne had become a successful recording artist, and not having raided his back catalogue for the first album, was now more willing to do so for this second, For Everyman. Recorded at the Sunset Sound Factory, and released in October 1973, this recording of ‘These Days’ was considerably different in several ways from the Nico effort. Some lyrics were changed or omitted, the finger-picking guitar figure was replaced with flat-picking, and Nico’s cool delivery was replaced by Browne’s singer-songwriter-style approach, resulting in a vocal that Philadelphia City Paper later called ‘unique, and piercingly sad’.

“The For Everyman liner notes thanked Gregg Allman for the arrangement. Allman and his brothers’ early band had recorded Browne’s ‘Cast Off All My Fears’ on their 1967 album The Hour Glass. Allman decided to record his own version of ‘These Days’ for his debut solo album, Laid Back, also released in October 1973. In 1999, writer Anthony DeCurtis called Allman’s version ‘definitive’, and in 2012, American Songwriter magazine said that Allman’s recording had overshadowed Browne’s in the same way that the Eagles had for Browne’s co-written ‘Take It Easy’.

“While neither version was released as a single, both Browne’s and Allman’s ‘These Days’ recordings gained airplay on Progressive Rock radio stations and became the most-heard interpretations of the song. In January 2014, Browne and Allman sang ‘These Days’ together at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre at the All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs & Voice Of Gregg Allman tribute concert.

“Later covers would include recordings by ex-Replacements’ Paul Westerberg (2003), on Come Feel Me Tremble; and Glen Campbell (2008), on Meet Glen Campbell.

“‘These Days’ would be used years later in the movie The Royal Tenenbaums in the scene where Gwyneth Paltrow gets out of a Green Line bus, one of the first scenes that director Wes Anderson designed for the film. As Browne would later describe it, I forgot that I’d licensed them to use this song. And this is one of those things that comes to you in the mail and you don’t know what they’re talking about and you simply give them their permission. You’re sitting in the movie theater and there’s this great moment when Gwyneth Paltrow is coming out of a bus or something like that. I’m thinking to myself, I used to play the guitar just like that. And then the voice comes on and it’s Nico singing ‘These Days’, which I played on.”

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, “These Days” (1968):

Tom Rush, “These Days” (1970):

Jennifer Warnes, “These Days” (1972):

Ian Matthews, “These Days” (1973):

Jackson Browne, “These Days” (1973):

Gregg Allman, “These Days” (1973):

Paul Westerberg, “These Days” (2003):

Glen Campbell, “These Days” (2008):

Jackson Browne & Gregg Allman, “These Days” live performance (2014):

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