Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: 1940s

Marianne

First recorded (as “Mary Anne”) by Roaring Lion (1946).
Hit versions by Terry Gilkyson & The Easy Riders (US #4 1957), The Hilltoppers (US #3 1957).

From the wiki: “‘Mary Ann’ was composed by Calypso artist Roaring Lion (Raphael De Leon) and was popular with steelbands and revelers during a spontaneous Carnival celebration on V-J Day in Trinidad in 1945, at the end of World War II. From a young age, Lion had became known for his skill in creating calypsos, particularly in his ability to extemporize lyrics on any subject. His career officially began in 1924; he cut his first sides in his late teens.

“Lion recorded extensively between the 1930s and 1950s (‘If You Wanna Be Happy‘), and was one of the calypsonians who deserves the most credit for the increasing international popularity of the genre during this period. In March 1934 the Trinidadian phonograph merchant Eduardo Sa Gomes sent Lion and fellow calypsonian Attila The Hun (Raymond Quevedo) to New York to record; they became the first calypsonians to record abroad. On that trip Lion also entertained the President of the United States – President Franklin D. Roosevelt – at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (FDR would also visit Trinidad in 1936, where he would again be entertained by Lion and Atilla.)

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Written and first recorded (as the instrumental “Never No Lament”) by Duke Ellington (1940).
Hit versions by Glen Gray & His Casa Loma Orchestra (US #7 1943), Duke Ellington (US #8/R&B #1 1943), The Ink Spots (US #2/R&B #1 1943).

From the wiki: “‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ is a Jazz standard by Duke Ellington. The tune was originally called ‘Never No Lament’ and was first recorded by Ellington in 1940 as a Big-band instrumental. Bob Russell’s lyrics and the new title were added in 1942. Two different recordings of ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’, one by The Ink Spots and the other, an instrumental, by Ellington’s own band, reached #1 on the R&B chart in the US in 1943. Both were Top-10 Pop records, too, along with a #7 hit by Glen Gray & His Casa Loma Orchestra, with the Ink Spots’ recording charting highest on the Pop chart.”

Night in Tunisia

First recorded (as “Interlude”) by Sarah Vaughn w/ The Dizzy Gillespie Septet (1944).
Also recorded by The Boyd Raeburn Orchestra (1944).
“Night in Tunisia” first recorded by Dizzy Gillespie (1945).
Also recorded by The Charlie Parker Septet (1946), Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker (1949), and Miles Davis (1955).

From the wiki: “Dizzy Gillespie began writing the then-unnamed tune while he was performing with Benny Carter in New York in 1942. During a break in a show, Gillespie composed the basics of the song on piano. According to To Be or Not to Bop: Memoirs of Dizzy Gillespie, Dizzy was sitting at the piano playing chord progressions when he noticed the notes of the chords formed a melody with a Latin/Oriental feel. Adding a Bebop-style rhythm to the melody, Gillespie came up with what would become ‘Night in Tunisia’.

Jingle Jangle Jingle

First performed by Dick Thomas (1942).
Hit versions by The Merry Macs (US #4 1942), Kay Kyser (US #1 1942), Gene Autry (US #17 1942).

From the wiki: “‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ (aka ‘I Got Spurs (That Jingle Jangle Jingle)’)was written by Frank Loesser (‘Baby It’s Cold Outside‘, ‘Inch Worm’, ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?‘) and Joseph J. Lilley, and published in 1942. It was first introduced in the motion picture The Forest Rangers, starring Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard, and was sung by movie cowboy Dick Thomas (‘Sioux City Sue’, 1945).

“The Merry Macs released the first commercial recording of ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ in 1942. First formed to play proms in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Merry Macs were made up of the three McMichael brothers – tenors Judd and Joe, and baritone Ted – and vocalist Mary Lou Cook. The Merry Macs were discovered by organist-bandleader Eddie Dunstedter from radio station WCCO. Other popular 1942 versions of ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle’ were recorded by Kay Kyser with Harry Babbitt, and, most remembered but not most popularly, by movie cowboy Gene Autry before his induction into the US Army.”

Since I Fell For You

Written and first recorded by The Buddy Johnson Orchestra with Ella Johnson (1946).
Hit versions by Annie Laurie with Paul Gayten & His Trio (US #20/R&B #3 1947), Lenny Welch (US #4/MOR #3 1963).
Also recorded by Dinah Washington (1947), The Harptones (1953).

From the wiki: “‘Since I Fell for You’ is Blues ballad composed by Buddy Johnson in 1945 and first popularized by his sister, Ella Johnson, with The Buddy Johnson Orchestra. It has since gone on to become a Jazz and Pop standard, becoming a particular favorite of vocalists. Annie Laurie with Paul Gayten & His Trio recorded it in 1947, charting in the R&B Top 5. Dinah Washington also covered ‘Since I Don’t Have You’ in 1947 with no chart impact, Eartha Kitt in 1950, Julie London in 1964, Shirley Horn in 1987, and Etta Jones in 1998. It was the 1963 Lenny Welch cover that reached reached #4 on Billboard Hot 100, far and away his biggest career hit.

Faded Love

Co-written and first recorded by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1946).
Also recorded by The Maddox Brothers & Rose (1950).
Hit versions by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (C&W #8 1950), Leon McAuliffe (C&W #22 1962 |C&W #22 1971), Patsy Cline (US #97/C&W #7 1963).

From the wiki: “‘Faded Love’ is a Western swing song written by Bob Wills; his father, John Wills; and his brother, Billy Jack Wills. The tune is considered to be an exemplar of the Western swing fiddle component of American fiddle. The song was first recorded as an instrumental in April, 1946 by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys for the Tiffany record label; a 1950 re-recording for MGM Records, with lyrics by Billy Jack, became a major hit for the group, reaching #8 on the Country charts in 1950, becoming one of the Playboys’ signature songs.

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)

Based on “Gran Prairie” by Happy Fats & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (1940).
Hit versions by Hank Williams (US #20/C&W #1 1952), Jo Stafford (US #3 1952), Fats Domino (US #30 1961), Blue Ridge Rangers (#16 1973), The Carpenters (UK #12 1974).

From the wiki: “The melody of ‘Jambalaya’ is based on the Cajun song ‘Gran Prairie’, first recorded in 1940 by Happy Fats & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers. While ‘Gran Prairie’ is a song about a lost love, the lyrics written by Hank Williams for ‘Jambalaya’ are about life, parties and stereotypical Cajun foods. Released in July 1952, crediting Williams as the sole author (there is some dispute, whether the lyrics were co-written with Moon Mullican), it reached #1 on the US Country music chart and stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks.

“Jo Stafford’s cover peaked at #3 on the Pop music charts, further popularizing the song. Other popular recordings were later charted by Fats Domino, and Blue Ridge Rangers (John Fogerty). The Carpenters released their 1974 recording of ‘Jambalaya’ as an overseas single, with chart success in the UK, Japan, Mexico, Holland and Germany.”

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

First recorded by Margaret Whiting (1947).
Other popular versions by The Les Paul Trio (1947), The Orioles (R&B #9 1949), Ella Fitzgerald (1960), Danté & the Evergreens (US #106 1960), Billy Ward & His Dominoes (1965), Nancy Wilson (XMAS #17 1965 |XMAS #24 1967), The Carpenters (1985), Rufus Wainwright (2005), Zooey Dechanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2011).

From the wiki: “‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?’ was written in 1947 by Frank Loesser as an ‘independent song’ — not written for any particular movie or musical. Loesser was an American songwriter who had written lyrics and music for the Broadway hits Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, among others. He won separate Tony Awards for both shows, as well as sharing the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the latter, and was also nominated for five Academy Awards for best song, winning once, for ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside‘. Among Loesser’s other notable songs: ‘Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition’, ‘Heart and Soul‘, ‘On a Slow Boat to China’, and ‘Luck Be a Lady Tonight’ (from Guys and Dolls).

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

First performed (in Meet Me in St. Louis) by Judy Garland (1944).
Popular recorded versions Judy Garland (1944), by Frank Sinatra (1957), Barbra Streisand (1967), The Pretenders (1987), Sam Smith (2014).

From the wiki: “‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, was introduced by Judy Garland in a poignant moment in the 1944 movie musical Meet Me In St. Louis. When presented with the original draft lyric, Garland, her co-star Tom Drake and director Vincente Minnelli criticized the song as depressing, and asked Martin to change the lyrics.

“Though he initially resisted, Martin made several changes to make the song more upbeat, e.g. the lines ‘It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past’ became ‘Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight’. Garland’s version of the song, which was also released as a single by Decca Records, became popular among United States troops serving in World War II; her performance at the Hollywood Canteen brought many soldiers to tears.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

First performed by Esther Williams & Ricardo Montalban and Red Skelton & Betty Garrett (Neptune’s Daughter, 1949).
Hit versions by Dinah Shore & Buddy Clark (US #4 1949), Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer (US #4 1949), Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan (US #9 1949), Dean Martin (1959) and Blossom Dearie & Bob Dorough (1979), Dean Martin & Martina McBride (MOR #7/C&W 36 2006).

From the wiki: “Frank Loesser wrote the duet in 1944 and premiered the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Lynn considered it ‘their song’ and was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM. The movie it appeared in, Neptune’s Daughter, featured two performances of the song: one by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams, and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, the second of which has the roles of ‘wolf and mouse’ reversed. These performances earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song.”

Merry Christmas, Baby

Co-written and first recorded by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers (R&B #3 1947).
Other popular versions by Chuck Berry (1958); Elvis Presley (1971); Bruce Springsteen (1987); Bonnie Raitt & Charles Brown (1992); Cee Lo Green, Rod Stewart & Trombone Shorty (2012).

From the wiki: “‘Merry Christmas Baby’ is an R&B Christmas standard written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore. The original 1947 version by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers is considered to be the definitive version of this song.

Sleigh Ride

First recorded by The Boston Pops Orchestra (1949).
Hit instrumental version by Leroy Anderson & His “Pops” Concert Orchestra (1950| re-recorded 1959).
Popular vocal versions by Johnny Desmond (1950), Johnny Mathis (1958), The Ronettes (1963), The Carpenters (1978).

From the wiki: “Leroy Anderson had the original idea for the piece during a heat wave in July 1946; he finished the work in February 1948. The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra. Composer Anderson would record an instrumental version of his own song in 1950. He re-recorded the song in stereo in 1959, a version that has since gone on to become the classic instrumental production.

“Lyrics, about a person who would like to ride in a sleigh on a winter’s day with their love, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. Johnny Desmond, with the Ray Charles Singers, first recorded the vocal version in 1950. Other popular vocal recordings have been released by Johnny Mathis (1958), The Ronettes (1963), and The Carpenters (1978). ”

Blue Christmas

First recorded by Doye O’Dell (1948).
Hit versions by Ernest Tubb (C&W #1 1949), Hugo Winterhalter & His Orchestra with Choir (US #9 1949), Russ Morgan & His Orchestra (US #11 1949), Hugo Winterhalter & Billy Eckstine (US #20 1950), Elvis Presley (1957 |US #40/UK #11 1964), Beach Boys (XMAS #3 1964), Shakin’ Stevens (UK #2 1982), Harry Connick Jr. (MOR #21 2004).


From the wiki: “‘Blue Christmas’ song was first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948. It was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by Country artist Ernest Tubb, which topped the Country singles chart; one by instrumental bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra that charted US Top-10; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires) that charted US Top-15. In 1950 Hugo Winterhalter released a new version, this time sung by Billy Eckstine, with shortened lyrics in a variation close to what is now the common standard for this song. This re-recording charted Top-20 in the US.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

First commercial recording by Frank Sinatra (US #9 1946).
Other hit versions by Roy Hamilton (R&B #1 1954), Gerry & the Pacemakers (US #48/UK #1 1963).

http://youtu.be/BYMm5q_tmpQ

From the wiki: “‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. Besides the recordings of the song on the Carousel cast albums and the film soundtrack, the song has been recorded by many artists, with notable hit versions by Frank Sinatra, Roy Hamilton (‘Unchained Melody‘), and Gerry & the Pacemakers (‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying‘).

Saturday Night Fish Fry

First recorded by Eddie Williams & His Brown Buddies (1949).
Hit version by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (US #21/R&B #1 1949).

http://youtu.be/Se9mX60LCrY

From the wiki: “‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ was written by Ellis Walsh and adapted by Louis Jordan (who received co-writing credit), and first recorded in 1949 by Eddie Williams & His Brown Buddies featuring the talk-singing vocals of Walsh. The act had recently had a hit with ‘Broken Hearted’; ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ was intended to be the Williams’ band’s followup. However, the acetate for the William/Walsh recording found its way to Louis Jordan’s agent and, as Williams later recalled, ‘They got theirs out there first.’

“Jordan reconfigured the song, taking the song’s ‘hook’ and signing it twice after every other verse. The arrangement was also more propulsive, too; Williams’ shuffle was replaced by a raucous, rowdy jump Boogie-woogie. ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ has been called one of the first Rock ‘n roll records. No less than Chuck Berry has said ‘Louis Jordan was the first one that I hear play rock and roll.'”

I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts

First recorded by Primo Scala & His Banjo and Accordian Band with The Keynotes (1949).
Also recorded by Billy Cotton & His Band (1949).
Hit versions by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra feat. Merv Griffith (US #8 1949), Danny Kaye (US #26 1950).

From the wiki: “‘I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts’ is a novelty song composed in 1944 (as “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts”) by English songwriter Fred Heatherton, and first recorded in 1949 by Harry Bidgood, aka ‘Primo Scala’, who recorded under a variety of different names (including ‘Rossini’ and ‘Don Porto’). Over the course of 20 years Bidgood would frequently broadcast on the BBC.

“‘I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts’ was a staple song of the Billy Cotton Band Show on British radio and television. The song is still played over the public address at Cambridge United football matches after home wins. In 1949, ‘Cocoanuts’ became a US Top 10 hit for Freddy Martin & His Orchestra, with vocalist Merv Griffin; the following year, it was a hit for Danny Kaye.”

Rag Mop

Written and first recorded (as “Get the Mop”) by Henry “Red” Allen (1944).
Hit versions by Johnnie Lee Wills & His Boys (US #9/C&W #2 1949), Doc Sausage & His Mad Lads (R&B #4 1950), The Ames Brothers (US #1 1950).

From the wiki: “‘Rag Mop’ is a 12-bar blues, adapted by Tulsa Western Swing bandleader Johnnie Lee Wills (Bob Wills’ younger brother) and steel guitarist Deacon Anderson from an earlier song, ‘Get the Mop’, composed by Jazz trumpeter and band leader Henry ‘Red’ Allen. (Wills and Anderson would later be successfully sued for plagiarism by Allen’s publisher.)

“Considered a novelty song, the lyrics to ‘Rag Mop’ consisted almost entirely of spelling out the song title; because of that, it is sometimes referred to as ‘Ragg Mopp’. Wills and his band first covered ‘Rag Mop’ for Bullet Records in 1949, but the most popular version of the song was recorded by The Ames Brothers and released by Coral Records in 1950. Doc Sausage & His Mad Lads also covered the song in 1950, peaking on the R&B chart at #4.

There! I’ve Said It Again

First recorded by The Benny Carter Orchestra (1941).
Hit versions by Vaughn Monroe (US #1 1945), Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra (US #8 1945), The Modernaires (US #11 1945), Sam Cooke (US #81/R&B #25 1959), Bobby Vinton (US#1/UK #34 1963).

From the wiki: “‘There! I’ve Said It Again’ was written by Redd Evans and David Mann – popularized originally by Vaughn Monroe (with the Norton Sisters) in 1945, along with charting versions by Jimmy Dorsey, and the Modernaires.

“Sam Cooke charted in lower reaches of the Hot 100 in 1959 with his arrangement. But, it was the late 1963 single release by Bobby Vinton that returned ‘There! I’ve Said It Again’ back to the top of the national charts. Vinton would remain #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks in January 1964 before being displaced by an import from England. ‘There! I’ve Said It Again’ gained the auspicious claim of being the last #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 before the Beatles’ scored their first #1 with ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, changing the course of music history – and dominating the Hot 100 the remainder of 1964.”

Rocket 88

Inspired by “Cadillac Boogie” by Jimmy Liggins & His Drops of Joy (1947).
Hit version by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats (R&B #1 1951).
Also recorded by Bill Haley & His Saddlemen (1951).

From the wiki: “If ‘Rocket 88’ is to be considered the first ‘Rock ‘n Roll’ song (as musicologists do), then ‘Cadillac Boogie’ must be the seed from which sprang the tree. Jackie Brenston admits he modeled his song on the Jimmy Liggins’ ‘Cadillac Boogie’, trading in the Caddy for a 1951 Oldsmobile Rocket Hydramatic 88. And it was about time they did. On their way from Clarksdale, MS, to Sun Studios in Memphis, TN, to record with Sam Phillips, the Delta Cats’ 1940 Ford Town Car was soaked in a downpour, damaging some band equipment including the band’s guitar amplifier.

“As luck would have it, Phillips liked the distortion coming now from the damaged amplifier and kept it in the recording. (Note: Even though ‘The Delta Cats’ were listed on the label, the group did not legally exist per se. Instead, the band was a derivative of then-19-year-old Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm band. Brenston was Turner’s saxophone player.)

Elmer’s Tune

First recorded by Dick Jurgens & His Orchestra (1941).
Hit version by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1941).

From the wiki: “The story goes that ‘Elmer’s Tune’ was named for it’s creator, Elmer Albrecht, an undertaker’s assistant, who used to practice the song on the piano at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois. His mortuary job was nearby and so he made a deal with The Aragon Ballroom owner who let Elmer practice there every day or so. Bandleader, Dick Jurgens, would often hear Elmer practicing this melody and one day decided to help him finish his song. Dick Jurgens & His Orchestra completed the first recording of ‘Elmer’s Tune’ as an instrumental. Lyrics were later written by Sammy Gallop, at which time The Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded the number featuring Ray Eberle & The Modernaires. Miller’s recording stayed on the Hit Parade for seventeen consecutive weeks.”

‘Round Midnight

First recorded (as “‘Round About Midnight”) by Cootie Williams & His Orchestra (1944).
Also recorded by Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker (1946), Jackie Paris (1949), Thelonious Monk (1947|1957), Sarah Vaughn (1963).
Popular version by Miles Davis (1957).

From the wiki: “By the time Thelonious Monk recorded ”Round Midnight’ as a band leader, in 1947, his composition was already well-known around Jazz circles and was considered a classic. It has since gone on to become the most-recorded Jazz standard composed by a Jazz performer, appearing on more than 1000 recordings. It is thought that Monk originally composed ”Round Midnight” sometime in 1940 or 1941. Historian Harry Colomby, however, claims that Monk could have written an early version of the song around 1936 (at the age of 19) with the title ‘Grand Finale’.

Red Roses for a Blue Lady

First recorded by John Laurenz (1948).
Hit versions by Vaughn Monroe & The Moon Men (US #3 1949), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #8 1949), Bert Kaempert (US #11/MOR #2 1965), Wayne Newton (US #23/MOR #4 1965), Vic Dana (US #10/MOR #2 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Red Roses for a Blue Lady’ was written by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett, and first recorded in 1948 by John Laurenz. The best-selling recording was produced in 1949 by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra Vocalists: Vaughn Monroe and The Moon Men. The song was revived three times in 1965: By vocalists Vic Dana and Wayne Newton, and by instrumentalist Bert Kaempfert. Dana’s version was the most successful of the three, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Easy Listening chart.”

A Sunday Kind of Love

First recorded by Fran Warren w. Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra (1946).
Hit versions by Jo Stafford (US #15 1947), Jan & Dean (US #95 1962), Lenny Welch (US #96/MOR #21 1972), Kenny Rankin (MOR #28 1976), Reba McEntire (C&W #5 1988).
Also recorded by Louis Prima (1947), The Harptones (1953), Etta James (1961).

From the wiki: “‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ was composed by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes, and Louis Prima. It was first recorded in 1946 by Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra, becoming the signature-song for his vocalist, Fran Warren. Jo Stafford had the first charted recording of ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’, in 1947, the same year that co-writer Louis Prima recorded an arrangement with his orchestra.

“In 1953, the Harptones (‘Since I Fell For You‘), a group who never had a Top-40 pop hit, or even charted any of their 29 singles nationally on the Billboard R&B chart, covered ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ – an arrangement that would have a strong influence on subsequent popular recordings of the song including covers by Etta James, Lenny Welch, and Kenny Rankin.”

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

First recorded by Ray Noble & His Orchestra (US #15 1940).
Other hit versions by Vera Lynn (1940), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #2 1940).

From the wiki: “‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ is a romantic British popular song written in 1939 with by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin, composed in the then-small French fishing village of Le Lavandou. The song had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar, where the melody was played on piano by Sherwin with the help of the resident saxophonist. Maschwitz sang the words while holding a glass of wine, but nobody seemed impressed.

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