Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Written and first recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1969, released 1996).
First commercial recording by Joe Cocker (1969).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969), Shirley Bassey (US #55/UK #4 1970), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #6 1974)
Also recorded by Ray Charles (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Something’ was the first Beatles song written by lead guitarist George Harrison to appear as an A-side single, and the only song written by him to top the US charts while he was in the band. Harrison began working on a song that eventually became known as ‘Something’ during the 1968 recording sessions for The Beatles (aka The White Album). Harrison recorded the demo of ‘Something’ on February 25, 1969, his 26th birthday.

“Producer Glyn Jones, who engineered the Beatles’ Get Back sessions, recalls ‘One morning before the others arrived at the studio, George asked me if I would stay behind at the end of the day to cut a demo with him of a song he had written, as he didn’t want to play it in front of the others. So we waited for everyone to leave and he went out into the empty studio and played ‘Something in the Way She Moves’, which might just be the greatest song he ever wrote. He came into the control room, and after having it played back to him, he asked what I thought of it, as he seemed unsure. I told him it was brilliant and that he must play it to the others. I can only assume that his confidence had been dented as a result of living in the shadow of John and Paul.’ [Source: Sound Man, by Glyn Jones, 2014]

“Harrison’s original intention had been to offer the song to Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax as he had done with a previous composition, ‘Sour Milk Sea’. When this fell through, ‘Something’ was instead given to Joe Cocker to record. Cocker completed his recording at A&M Studios in Los Angeles before The Beatles completed their recording in August 1969 at Abbey Road, but Cocker’s recording was not released (on Joe Cocker!, his second album, on which also appeared another Beatles composition, ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window’) until November 1969 – six weeks after the release of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

“In her autobiography Wonderful Tonight, Harrison’s former wife Pattie Boyd claimed the song was written about her. Harrison downplayed the sentiment, saying it was, in fact, written with Ray Charles in mind.

“Shirley Bassey charted in the UK Top-5 with ‘Something’ in 1970. American country singer Johnny Rodriguez had a US country Top-10 hit with the song in 1974. Ray Charles, whom Harrison imagined when writing the song, covered ‘Something’ in 1971 for his album Volcanic Action Of My Soul.

“‘Something’ continues to garner accolades from the musical establishment decades after its release, with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) website naming it as the 64th-greatest song ever. In 1999, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) named ‘Something’ as the 17th most-performed song of the 20th century, with five million performances in all. In 2004, ‘Something’ was ranked #273 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2010, the magazine ranked it #6 on The Beatles’ 100 Greatest Songs.”

The Beatles, “Something” rehearsal (1969):

Joe Cocker, “Something” (1969):

The Beatles, “Something” album recording (1969):

Shirley Bassey, “Something” (1970):

Ray Charles, “Something” (1971):

Johnny Rodriguez, “Something” (1974):

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