Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Dave Van Ronk

House of the Rising Sun

First recorded (as “Rising Sun Blues”) by Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Gwen Foster (1933).
Also recorded by Woody Guthrie (1941), Lead Belly (1944 |1948), Josh White (1947), Glenn Yarbrough (1957), Pete Seeger (1958), Andy Griffith (1959), Miriam Makeba (1960).
Hit versions by The Animals (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1/AUS #2/GER #10/SWE #4 1964), Frijid Pink (US #7/UK #4 1970).

From the wiki: “Like many classic folk ballads, the authorship of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ is uncertain. Musicologists say that it is based on the tradition of broadside ballads such as The Unfortunate Rake of the 18th century and that English emigrants took the song to America where it was adapted to its later New Orleans setting. Alan Price of The Animals has even claimed that the song was originally a sixteenth-century English folk song about a Soho brothel.

Both Sides Now

First recorded (as “Clouds (Both Sides Now)”) by Dave Van Ronk & The Hudson Dusters (1967).
Hit version by Judy Collins (US #8/MOR #3/CAN #6/UK #14/AUS #37/NZ #7 1968).
Also recorded by Fairport Convention (1967), Harpers Bizarre (US #123/MOR #38 1968), Joni Mitchell (1969 | 2000), Herbie Hancock (2007).

From the wiki: “First recorded as ‘Clouds (Both Sides Now)’ (against the writer’s will) by Dave Van Ronk & The Hudson Dusters in 1967, for their one and only album, the song ‘Both Sides, Now’ was written by Joni Mitchell – inspired, she says, by a passage in Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow:

I was reading Saul Bellow’s ‘Henderson the Rain King’ on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song.

“However much she might have disliked Van Ronk retitling ‘Both Sides Now’, Mitchell must have caught his drift. She titled the 1969 album holding her own version of ‘Both Sides, Now’ Clouds.

Chelsea Morning

First recorded by Dave Van Ronk & The Hudson Dusters (1967).
Also recorded by Fairport Convention (1968), Jennifer Warnes (1968), Gloria Loring (1968), Joni Mitchell (1969).
Hit versions by Judy Collins (US #78/MOR #25 1969), Green Lyte Sunday (MOR #19 1970), Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (MOR #21 1970).

From the wiki: “Written by Joni Mitchell, the song was inspired by Mitchell’s room in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Although written by Mitchell in 1967, she held off recording the song herself until preparing her second album, Clouds (1969), partly because ‘Chelsea Morning’ had already been recorded by several other artists, first by Dave Van Ronk & the Hudson Dusters in 1967.