Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

Help support this site! Consider clicking an ad from time to time. Thanks!



First recorded by The Beatles (FRA #1/NOR #1/NZ #1 1966).
Other hit versions by The Overlanders (UK #1 1966), Billy Vaughn (US #77/MOR #17 1966), David & Jonathan (US #18/UK #11 1966), The Spokesmen (US #106 1966), Bud Shank & Chet Baker (US #65/MOR #12 1966).
Also recorded by Jan & Dean (1966), The Singers Unlimited (1971).

From the wiki: “One of Rubber Soul’s most memorable songs, ‘Michelle’ was written by Paul McCartney with a little help from the wife of an old schoolfriend. The song is one of McCartney’s oldest compositions, having been started around 1959; composed on his first-ever guitar, a Zenith. ‘Michelle’ won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1967 and has since become one of the best-known and most-often recorded of all Beatles songs … but was never released in the US or the UK by the Beatles as a single (although Beatles’ singles of ‘Michelle” did top singles charts in France and Norway).

“After The Beatles declined to release the song as a single, ‘Michelle’ became a UK hit in 1966 for The Overlanders. Of all the covers recorded of ‘Michelle’ released to date, the recording by David & Jonathan (nom de plume of songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenway, ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing‘) was the only recording of ‘Michelle’ that made the US Billboard Top 40.

“Other covers of ‘Michelle’ produced in 1966 included recordings by Billy Vaughn; The Spokesmen, a Philadelphia group that received significant airplay on WIBG Radio (if only because a member of the band was a station disc-jockey there); surf duo Jan & Dean, hoping to capture some of the Beatles’ magic; and an instrumental Jazz version recorded by saxophonist Bud Shank & trumpeter Chet Baker. Singers Unlimited, a vocal group who included Len Dresslar (better known as the ‘Jolly Green Giant’ in General Mills TV commercials), covered the song in 1971.

“From ‘John Lennon invited McCartney over to college parties when he was still in high school, when French culture was a trend. Paul would try to fit in by sitting in a corner and pretending to be French. He would play little tunes in French, but he only knew a few French words so he would groan or make words up. Later, John told Paul that he should make it into a real song for Rubber Soul, so Paul asked his friend, Ivan Vaughan, whose wife was a French teacher, for a French name and some words to rhyme with it. Vaughan came up with ‘Michelle, ma belle.’ McCartney came up with the next line, ‘These are words that go together well,’ and Vaughan taught him the French translation, ‘Sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,’ which he used in the song as well. When he played it for Lennon, John suggested the ‘I love you’ part in the middle.’

“The Beatles recorded the rhythm track for Michelle in a single take, using all four available tracks on the Abbey Road tape machines. It has been suggested that McCartney may have performed most of the instruments alone thereafter.”

The Overlanders, “Michelle” (1966):

Billy Vaughn, “Michelle” (1966):

David & Jonathan, “Michelle” (1966):

The Spokesmen, “Michelle” (1966):

Bud Shank & Chet Baker, “Michelle” (1966):

Jan & Dean, “Michelle” (1966):

The Singers Unlimited, “Michelle” (1971):

Comments are closed.