Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Both Sides Now

First recorded (as “Clouds (Both Sides Now)”) by Dave Van Ronk & The Hudson Dusters (1967).
Hit version by Judy Collins (US #8/MOR #3/CAN #6/UK #14/AUS #37/NZ #7 1968).
Also recorded by Fairport Convention (1967), Harpers Bizarre (US #123/MOR #38 1968), Joni Mitchell (1969 | 2000), Herbie Hancock (2007).

From the wiki: “First recorded as ‘Clouds (Both Sides Now)’ (against the writer’s will) by Dave Van Ronk & The Hudson Dusters in 1967, for their one and only album, the song ‘Both Sides, Now’ was written by Joni Mitchell – inspired, she says, by a passage in Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow:

I was reading Saul Bellow’s ‘Henderson the Rain King’ on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song.

“However much she might have disliked Van Ronk retitling ‘Both Sides Now’, Mitchell must have caught his drift. She titled the 1969 album holding her own version of ‘Both Sides, Now’ Clouds.

“Judy Collins covered and included ‘Both Sides, Now’ on her 1967 Wildflowers album. In October 1968 it was released as a single, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and in early 1969 Collins’ recording won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.

“UK folk-rock group Fairport Convention recorded the song as a demo in 1967 but the recording did not become available until 2000. Irish trio The Johnstons recorded their arrangement in 1968. While the single had success in some markets in the U.S. and Canada (e.g., Dayton, Ohio [#1]; Troy, NY [#2]; Sarasota, FL [#6]); San Bernardino, CA [#10], Vancouver, BC [#6]), it never gathered enough momentum that allowed it to chart nationally.

“Harpers Bizarre recorded and released ‘Both Sides Now’ as a single in 1968, ‘bubbling under’ the Billboard Hot 100 but peaking at #38 on the Easy Listening chart.

“Joni Mitchell reinterpreted her song in 2000 for the album Both Sides Now.

“Herbie Hancock recorded an instrumental version of the song for his 2007 album River: The Joni Letters. Hancock’s version of the song was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Solo. The album won the 2008 Grammy for Album of the Year.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked ‘Both Sides, Now’ at #170 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Judy Collins, “Both Sides Now” (1967):

Fairport Convention, “Both Sides Now” (1967, released 2000):

The Johnstons, “Both Sides Now” (1968):

Harpers Bizarre, “Both Sides Now” (1968):

Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now” (1969):

Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now” (2000):

Herbie Hancock, “Both Sides, Now” (2007):

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