Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: B. J. Thomas

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

Written and first recorded by Hank Williams (B-side C&W #4 1949 |A-side C&W #43 1966).
Other hit versions by B.J. Thomas & the Triumphs (US #8/CAN #2 1966), Charlie McCoy (C&W #23/CAN #21 1972), Terry Bradshaw (C&W #17 1976).

From the wiki: “According to Colin Escott’s 2004 book Hank Williams: A Biography, Williams was inspired to write the song when he saw the title (to a different song) on a schedule of upcoming MGM record releases.

“However, music journalist Chet Flippo and Kentucky historian W. Lynn Nickell have each claimed how 19-year-old Kentuckian, Paul Gilley, wrote the lyrics, then sold the song to Williams along with the rights, allowing Williams to take credit for it. They stated that Gilley also wrote the lyrics to ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ and other songs before drowning at the age of 27. However, Williams has stated he wrote the song originally intending that the words be spoken, rather than sung, as he had done on several of his ‘Luke the Drifter’ recordings.

Here You Come Again

First recorded (as a demo) by Barry Mann (1977).
First released by B.J. Thomas (1977).
Hit version by Dolly Parton (US #3/C&W #1/CAN #7 1977).
Re-recorded by Barry Mann (2000).

From the wiki: “‘Here You Come Again’ is a rare example of a Dolly Parton success that she did not write herself; it was composed by the songwriting duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (‘Don’t Know Much‘, ‘(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration’, ‘Never Gonna Let You Go‘). The pair had originally composed ‘Here You Come Again’ in 1975 as a potential comeback hit for Brenda Lee, but Lee declined the offer to record it.

I Just Can’t Help Believing

Co-written and first recorded by Barry Mann (1968).
Also recorded by Bobbby Vee (1969), Leonard Nimoy (1969).
Hit versions by B.J. Thomas (US #9/MOR #1/CAN #18 1970), Elvis Presley (UK #6 1971).

From the wiki: “‘I Just Can’t Help Believing’ is a song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The song was most successful after it was recorded by B.J. Thomas and released by him as a single in 1970. It went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and spent one week at #1 on the Easy Listening (adult contemporary) chart. The first recording and single release was by the song’s co-writer, Barry Mann, in 1968 (with no apparent chart success), and as album tracks in 1969 by Bobby Vee, and Leonard Nimoy.

“The song was also recorded by Elvis Presley in 1970 for the documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is. The film captures Presley’s Summer Festival in Las Vegas at the International Hotel during August 1970. It is considered one of Elvis’ best live performances as both orchestra and vocals are virtually flawless (even if he does start the performance reading from a lyric sheet). That’s the Way It Is was Presley’s first non-dramatic film since the beginning of his film career in 1956, giving a clear view of Presley’s return to live performances after years of making films. His performance in the film of ‘I Just Can’t Help Believing’ was released as a single in the UK in November 1971, peaking at #6.”

Hooked on a Feeling

Originally recorded by B.J. Thomas (US #5/CAN #3 1968).
Other hit versions by Jonathan King (UK #23 1972), Blue Swede (US #1/CAN #1/AUS #1 1974).

From the wiki: “‘Hooked on a Feeling’ is a 1968 pop song written by Mark James (‘Suspicious Minds‘) and originally performed by B. J. Thomas. Featuring the sound of the electric sitar, Thomas’ recording reached #5 in 1969 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“In 1971, British pop eccentric Jonathan King (‘Everyone’s Gone to the Moon’) produced his own version, adding ooga chuka jungle chants. King described his arrangement as ‘a reggae rhythm by male voices.’ His version reached #23 on the UK Singles Chart in 1972 but did not chart in the US.