Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Danny O’Keefe

The Road

Written and first recorded by Danny O’Keefe (1972).
Hit album version by Jackson Browne (1978).

From the wiki: “‘The Road’ was written by Danny O’Keefe, who recorded the song for the album O’Keefe. The song foreshadowed O’Keefe’s fate, as he found himself living the song when he toured to promote his 1972 hit ‘Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues‘. O’Keefe recalled: ‘For me the road was basically go out for six weeks and after six weeks you were usually sick of the road and sort of beat to death and poor, because unless you stay out there for a long period of time it’s very hard to recoup those expenses that you have when you’re carrying a band.'”

Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Danny O’Keefe (1967, released 1972).
First released by The Bards (1968).
Also recorded by Danny O’Keefe (1971), Elvis Presley (1973).
Hit versions by Danny O’Keefe (US #9/MOR #5/C&W #63 1972), Red Steagall (C&W #41 1979), Leon Russell (C&W #63 1984).

From the wiki: “‘Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues’ was written by Danny O’Keefe (‘The Road‘) and first recorded by him in 1967 for the Jerden record label, owned by Jerry Denton who didn’t release the record but claimed the credits. It was covered by a Seattle band, The Bards, and released in 1968 as the B-side to the song ‘Tunesmith’ on Parrot Records. Luckily for O’Keefe, his contract was bought by Atlantic boss Ahmed Ertegun, who returned him half of the publishing credit without obligation. That’s when Danny re-recorded ‘Goodtime Charlie’ under better conditions for Cotillion Records, in 1971, produced by Ahmed. One year later, the song was recut for the Signpost label under the supervision of Arif Mardin and released on the album O’Keefe. When that version hit, Denton released the original demo version on the semi-bootleg The Seattle Tapes.”