Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Jamaica Say You Will

First recorded by The Byrds (1971).
Also recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1972).
Hit album version by Jackson Browne (1972).

From the wiki: “‘Jamaica Say You Will’ (alternately ‘Jamaica, Say You Will’) was written by Jackson Browne, but was first recorded for release by The Byrds on their Byrdmaniax album, produced by Kim Fowley, the year before Browne’s version came out. ‘Jamaica Say You Will’ was also recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for their All the Good Times, released the same month as Browne’s self-titled debut album (aka Saturate Before Using) in January 1972.

“According to Browne biographer, Mark Bego, Jackson recorded a demo of ‘Jamaica Say You Will’ (with J.D. Souther, Glen Frey and Ned Doheny backing him) in February 1970 intending to land a management deal from David Geffen, who was already representing a few of his friends: Crosby, Stills & Nash; Joni Mitchell; and Laura Byro. According to Bego, ‘[i]n a very clever and aggressive move, Jackson packaged up an eight-by-then glossy black-and-white photo of himself, a copy of ‘Jamaica Say You Will’ and an impassioned letter that began, ‘I am writing to you out of respect for the artists you represent …’ [Jackson Browne: His Life and Music, Mark Bego, 2005]

“Initially consigned to the ‘circular file’, the package was retrieved by Geffen’s secretary who, impressed with what she heard (and saw), lobbied Geffen to give the material a second consideration.

“Browne has referred to ‘Jamaica Say You Will’ as a ‘fable’, but one based in real experience. ‘I thought I was kind of writing it for this girl I knew that worked in a garden in Zuma Beach, across the street from the Pacific Ocean, and she worked in this organic food orchard,’ Browne said in an interview, ‘like the Garden of Eden, and she was the kind of Eden-like girl, too.'”

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, “Jamaica Say You Will” (1972):

Jackson Browne, “Jamaica Say You Will” (1972):

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