Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Sue Me, Sue You Blues

First recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1971).
First commercial release by Jesse Ed Davis (1972).
Hit album version by George Harrison (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Sue Me, Sue You Blues’ was written by George Harrison. Harrison let American guitarist Jesse Ed Davis record it first for release, for the latter’s Ululu album (1972) in gratitude to Davis for his participation in the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’. Harrison had drawn inspiration for the song from the legal issues surrounding the Beatles break-up during the early months of 1971, particularly the lawsuit that Paul McCartney initiated in an effort to dissolve the band’s business partnership, Apple Corps.

“Harrison recorded a brief demo of ‘Sue Me, Sue You Blues’, in the Delta blues style, which became available in the 1990s on bootleg compilations such as Pirate Songs. Harrison biographer Simon Leng describes this 1971 recording as ‘astonishing’ and a ‘must’ for inclusion on any forthcoming George Harrison anthology, with Harrison sounding like ‘a lost bluesman, bootlegged in Chicago.’

“Tulsa-born guitarist Jesse Ed Davis met Harrison through mutual friends, singer-songwriter Leon Russell and drummer Jim Keltner, both of whom took part in the hastily arranged session for Harrison’s ‘Bangla Desh’ charity single in July 1971. Russell also assisted Harrison in recruiting personnel for the associated benefit concerts, held at Madison Square Garden in New York, and suggested Davis as a replacement for Eric Clapton, who was then dealing with a severe heroin addiction. (Both Davis and Clapton ended up playing at the two shows, on 1 August.) In gratitude to Davis, Harrison offered him ‘Sue Me, Sue You Blues’ for inclusion on his second solo album, Ululu.

“Other musicians on Davis’s version include Keltner, Dr. John and Billy Rich. Like Keltner, Davis went on to work with all the former Beatles except McCartney during the 1970s, remaining close to Harrison and playing regularly with Lennon over the 1973–75 period.

“Harrison revisited his song in December 1972, during a break in the sessions for his Living in the Material World album. The song’s inclusion marked the only secular composition on the album. It also served as a rare foray into rock amid the album’s abundance of spiritually themed ballads and occasional acoustic-based pop such as ‘Give Me Love, Give Me Peace’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long’.

“Harrison completed the song’s vocals by late February 1973, soon after his 30th birthday. He then traveled to Los Angeles for a series of Beatles-related business meetings held at the offices of Apple’s US distributor, Capitol Records, primarily to discuss the upcoming Beatles compilations 1962–1966 and 1967–1970. While these two double albums were intended to foil bootleggers, Peter Doggett, in You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup (2010), notes that the profits financed the Beatles’ litigation against former manager Allen Klein until well into 1974.”

Jesse Ed Davis, “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” (1972):

George Harrison, “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” (1973):

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