Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Nobody’s Child

First recorded by Hank Snow (1949).
Hit versions by Lonnie Donegan (1956), Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (1961 |B-side US #19/UK #29 1964), Karen Young (UK #6 1969), Hank Williams Jr. (C&W #46 1969), The Traveling Wilburys (UK #44 1990).

From the wiki: “‘Nobody’s Child’ was written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree and was first recorded by Hank Snow in 1949, becoming one of his standards although it did not chart for him. The song lyrics are about an orphan whom no one wants to adopt because he is blind, and has been covered a number of times, mostly in the UK.

“It was on Lonnie Donegan’s first album in 1956 (which went to #2 as an album in the UK). It was covered by Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (The Beatles) in 1961 in Hamburg and was used as the B-side to both the ‘Ain’t She Sweet‘ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown‘ singles when released in 1964 as part of Beatlemania. (Beat Brother/Beatle George Harrison would later cover ‘Nobody’s Child’ as one of the Traveling Wilburys twenty-five years later.)

“In 1969, Karen Young again charted the song in the UK. In the US, Hank Williams Jr. recorded a version of ‘Nobody’s Child’ that made it to #46 on the US Country charts in 1969.

“The Traveling Wilburys (George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty) covered ‘Nobody’s Child’ in 1990 for the album Traveling Wilbury’s Vol. 3. The recording was in response to an urgent request from Harrison’s wife, Olivia, for a song to benefit charity on behalf of thousands of Romanian children abandoned as orphans as the Iron Curtain crumbled in East Europe. It was Dylan who suggested the song for its relevant message.

“Unable to remember all the lyrics, George phoned his friend, Joe Brown, who was able to provide him the first verse. Harrison wrote a new second verse to address the plight of the children and babies in Romania, which ends with the lines ‘They’ve long since stopped their crying, as no one ever hears / And no one’s there to notice them or take away their fears.’

“Lead vocals on the recording were shared between Dylan, Harrison, Petty and Lynne. According to George, the band completed the track within 48 hours of Olivia’s phone call.

“The Wilburys’ ‘Nobody’s Child’ was also released as a charity single in both 12-inch and CD formats, the B-side of which included a live version of ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ by former Beatle Ringo Starr. It charted on the UK in 1990, peaking at #44, as the lead promotional single from the benefit album Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal released in July 1990.”

Lonnie Donegan, “Nobody’s Child” (1956):

Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (The Beatles), “Nobody’s Child” (1961):

Karen Young, “Nobody’s Child” (1969):

Hank Williams Jr., “Nobody’s Child” (1969):

The Traveling Wilburys, “Nobody’s Child” (1990):

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