Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Are You Lonesome Tonight?

First released by Charles Hart (1927).
Also recorded by Vaughn DeLeath (1927), Henry Burr (1927), The Carter Family (1936), Al Jolson (1950).
Hit versions by Blue Barron Orchestra (US #19 1950), Jaye P. Morgan (US #65 1959), Elvis Presley (US #1/C&W #22/R&B #3 1960).

From the wiki: “‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ was written by Lou Handman and Roy Turk in 1926, and first published in 1927. A number of artists first recorded the song in 1927, most notably by Ned Jakobs on May 8 but the first released recording belongs to Charles Hart whose production was released on May 9, 1927. (Jakobs’ version was released on May 17.)

“Vaughn De Leath (also known as ‘The Original Radio Girl’) recorded two versions of the song in 1927, the second as vocalist for The Colonial Club Orchestra. Another version was released later that year by famed tenor Henry Burr.

“The first charting version of ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ was recorded by Blue Barron in 1950, peaking at #19 This version first introduced the additional spoken part to the song loosely based on Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Only a few weeks after Barron’s recording, Al Jolson recorded a version – one of his last recordings – that also included the spoken section. In 1959, American songstress Jaye P. Morgan’s recording, sans spoken lyrics, reached #65 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“It was Elvis Presley’s manager, Col. Tom Parker, who persuaded Elvis to record ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’, a favorite of Mrs. Parker. His recording used an arrangement similar to that recorded by the Blue Barron Orchestra. It is also possible that Elvis heard the 1958 version of the song by Jim Flaherty’s Caravan with vocals by Howie Stange, a recording that received much air play in the New England area and overseas in Europe (where Presley was stationed at the time with the US Army). Flaherty’s version also had a unique spelling of the song, ‘Are You Lonesome To-Night?’, which was copied Presley’s release, as well as the spoken part.

“Elvis, occasionally during live performances, would randomly change lyrics to give them humorous connotations. The first recorded example of this was during his famous benefit concert for the USS Arizona Memorial at Bloch Arena in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on March 25, 1961. During this frenzied concert, Presley in a clearly fun mood while performing the spoken word section over constant audience screams, delivers lines like ‘Then came Act Two. You seemed to change. You got fat!’ and ‘Now the stage is bare, and you’ve lost your hair.’

“The most popular among these humorous versions however was recorded at the International Hotel in Vegas on August 26, 1969. During the performance, instead of singing: ‘Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there’, he sings ‘Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair’. Moments later a man in the front row removed his toupée and began swaying to the music. Presley burst into laughter which continued into the next lines.”

Vaughn DeLeath, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1927):

Henry Burr, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1927):

Blue Barron Orchestra, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1950):

Al Jolson, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1950):

Jim Flaherty’s Caravan, “Are You Lonesome To-night?” (1958):

Jaye P. Morgan, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1959):

Elvis Presley, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1960):

Elvis Presley, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” “bald head” version (1969):

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