Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Don’t Know Much

Co-written and originally recorded by Barry Mann (1980).
Hit versions by Bill Medley (US #88/MOR #29 1981), Bette Midler (US #77/MOR #39/CAN-MOR #5 1982), Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville (US #2/MOR #1/CAN #1/UK #2/AUS #1/NZ #4/IRE #1 1989).

From the wiki: “Written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow, ‘Don’t Know Much’ had a rich history prior to its success in 1989. It first appeared on Mann’s self-titled 1980 album, released on Casablanca Records. Bill Medley and Bette Midler (under the title ‘All I Need to Know’) then had minor chart successes with the song in 1981 and 1983, respectively.

“Mann and lyricist Weil met while both were staff songwriters at Don Kirshner’s and Al Nevin’s Aldon Music, near the famed composing-and-publishing factory, the Brill Building. Mann and Weil, who married in 1961, helped pioneer the more socially conscious side of the Brill Building-era songbook with hits such as ‘Uptown’ by The Crystals, ‘We Gotta Get out of This Place‘ by the Animals, ‘Magic Town’ by the Vogues and ‘Kicks’ by Paul Revere & the Raiders.

“As of May 2009, Mann’s song catalog lists 635 songs. He has received 56 pop, country, and R&B awards from music agency BMI, and 46 Millionaire Awards for radio performances numbering over one million plays. Mann’s song ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin”, co-written with Phil Spector, was the most played song of the 20th century, with more than 14 million radio plays in the US.

“‘Don’t Know Much’ was introduced to Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville by Steve Tyrell (Dionne Warwick, B.J. Thomas, Mystic Pizza, Father of the Bride). Co-produced by Tyrell and Peter Asher, ‘Don’t Know Much’ was released as a single in the U.S. in 1989, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December, and topping music charts around the world.

“‘Don’t Know Much’ won Linda & Aaron the 1990 Grammy Award for ‘Best Pop Performance (by a Duo or Group with Vocal)’ and was nominated for ‘Song of the Year’.”

Bill Medley, “Don’t Know Much” (1981):

Bette Midler, “All I Need to Know” (1982):

Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville, “Don’t Know Much” (1989):