Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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My Melancholy Baby

First recorded by Walter Scanlan (US #9 1915).
Other hit versions by Gene Austin (US #3 1928), Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra (US #6 1936), Bing Crosby (US #14 1939), Sam Donahue & His Orchestra (US #5 1945), Tommy Edwards (US #26/R&B #27/UK #29 1959).

From the wiki: “‘Melancholy Baby’ was written by Ernie Burnett with lyrics by George Norton. The song was first publicly performed (as ‘Melancholy’) in 1912 by William Frawley (‘Fred Mertz’ on I Love Lucy, and ‘Bub’ on My Three Sons). According to IMDb:

‘Frawley was appearing at the Mozart Cafe in Denver, Colorado. He happened to visit a pub on Curtis Street, where he knew the proprietor. Knowing Bill was looking for a new song for his act, the proprietor directed him to the pub’s back room, where Ernie Burnett and George Norton were in the process of composing ‘My Melancholy Baby’.

‘Frawley introduced the song that very night at the Mozart Cafe. In the audience was writer Damon Runyon, well known for his drinking. After Frawley introduced the song, Runyan, drunk and maudlin, repeatedly called out ‘Get Frawley to sing ‘Melancholy Baby’!’ throughout the rest of the evening. Bill sang many encores. The comedy staple of a drunk requesting ‘My Melancholy Baby’ actually has a basis in fact.’

“Forty-five years later, Frawley would record ‘My Melancholy Baby’ in 1957, for his album Bill Frawley Sings the Old Ones.

The first recording of ‘Melancholy’ was completed in 1915 by Walter Scanlan (the performing name of Walter Van Brunt), Thomas Edison’s favorite tenor, with the song title changed to ‘My Melancholy Baby’. Based on sheet music sales, Scanlan’s recording made it into the Top-10 of the Hit Parade. The first popular recording, as measured by disk sales, was made by Gene Austin in 1928.

“Teddy Wilson’s 1936 recording featured an 18-year Ella Fitzgerald, who was pulled into the session at the last minute when Billie Holiday couldn’t attend the date. Other popular versions of ‘My Melancholy Baby’ have been recorded by Bing Crosby (1939), Sam Donahue & His Orchestra (1945), and Tommy Edwards (1959).

“Songwriter Burnett was seriously wounded in France during World War I. He lost his memory together with his identity dog-tags. While recuperating in hospital, a pianist entertained the patients with popular tunes including ‘My Melancholy Baby’. Burnett rose from his sickbed and exclaimed: ‘That’s my song!'”

Gene Austin, “My Melancholy Baby” (1928):

Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra, “My Melancholy Baby” (1936):

Bing Crosby, “My Melancholy Baby” (1939):

Sam Donahue & His Orchestra, “My Melancholy Baby” (1945)

William Frawley, “My Melancholy Baby” (1957)

Tommy Edwards, “My Melancholy Baby” (1959):

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