Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Softly, As I Leave You

First recorded (as “Piano”) by Mina (1960).
Hit versions by Matt Munro (US #18/UK #10 1961), Frank Sinatra (US #27/MOR #4 1964), Elvis Presley (C&W #8 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Softly, as I Leave You’ was first composed in Italian as ‘Piano’ (trans. ‘softly’) by Giorgio Calabrese and Tony De Vita. It was first performed by Mina at the 1960 Sanremo Music Festival, and was first released as a recording by her in 1960.

“English songwriter Hal Shaper noticed the song and in November 1961 wrote English-language lyrics to the melody, titling it ‘Softly, As I Leave You’. The best-known versions of this are those by Matt Munro (#10 on the British charts in 1962) and Frank Sinatra (#27 on the Billboard Hot 100/#4 on the MOR chart in 1964). When the Sinatra family announced Frank’s death on May 14, 1998, they placed an announcement on his website that was accompanied by his recording of ‘Softly, As I Leave You’.

“Elvis Presley , when performing ‘Softly, As I Leave You’ as part of his Las Vegas act, would preface it with a story about the song’s origin. Presley said the song originated with a man dying and his wife sitting by his bedside. As she began to doze off, he felt himself passing and he wrote the words to the song on a notepad. (Elvis insiders claim that his explanation for the song was merely an example of Presley’s flair for storytelling.)

“Presley doesn’t actually sing this song; he speaks the words while his backing tenor, Sherrill Nielsen, sings it. Elvis’s one recorded version of ‘Softly, As I Leave You’ originated as a bootleg recording made by a fan in Las Vegas in December 1975. RCA would later release it commercially in 1978, after Presley’s death, and it now appears on the boxed set Walk A Mile In My Shoes: The Essential 70’s Masters.”

Matt Munro, “Softly, As I Leave You” (1961):

Frank Sinatra, “Softly, As I Leave You” (1964):

Elvis Presley, “Softly, As I Leave You” (1975, released 1978):

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