Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Blowin’ in the Wind

First released by The New World Singers (January 1963).
Also released by The Chad Mitchell Trio (March 1963), Bob Dylan (May 1963), Marlene Dietrich (1963).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #2/UK #13 1963), Stan Getz (US #110 1964), Stevie Wonder (US #9/R&B #1 1966).

From The Originals: “The timeline of ‘first’ recordings and releases of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ can sure be a more than confusing. Some sources date the New World Singers’ recording to September 1963, four months after Dylan’s was released. That is patently wrong, however. The New World Singers’ version appeared on a compilation of ‘topical songs’ called Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 which apparently was released on 1 January 1963 on Broadside Records, the recording arm of the folk magazine (you guessed it) Broadside, which was founded by Pete Seeger and printed the lyrics of the song in May 1962. The Chad Mitchell Trio, sometimes credited with recording the song first, released the song on their In Action LP in March 1963.

“Before he became almost instantly famous, Bob Dylan’s favored hang-out in Greenwich Village was Gerde’s Folk City. In 1962 he took ten minutes to cobble together ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, based on an old slave song called ‘No More Auction Block’, which he says he knew from the Carter Family’s version. One day in April 1962, Dylan handed the lyrics of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ to New World Singer Gil Turner, who hosted the Monday evening line-up. Turner was impressed and asked Dylan to teach him the song, so that he (Turner) could perform it immediately. Turner introduced the song to Gerde’s audience – ‘I’d like to sing a new song by one of our great songwriters. It’s hot off the pencil and here it goes …’ – and the crowd went wild, and Dylan went home. After that, Dylan would add ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ to his own performance repertoire. Dylan would include a studio recording of ‘Blowin” on his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released in March 1963.

“Later in 1963, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ became a massive hit – not for Dylan, but for Peter, Paul & Mary. Naturally the song has been covered copiously and esoterically. Perhaps the most unexpected recording is that by the German film legend Marlene Dietrich in 1964, with her Burt Bacharach-orchestrated and -produced single.

“In 1999, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ was ranked #14 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The Chad Mitchell Trio, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963):

Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind” live TV performance (1963):

Marlene Dietrich, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963):

Peter, Paul & Mary, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963):

Stan Getz, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1964):

Stevie Wonder, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1966):

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