Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Dolly Parton

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 Will Always Love You

Written and originally recorded by Dolly Parton (C&W #1 1973 |C&W #1 1982).
Also recorded by Linda Ronstadt (1975).
Other hit version by Whitney Houston (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #1/UK #1/AUS #1 1992).

From the wiki: “During an interview, Parton’s manager Danny Nozel said that ‘one thing we found out from American Idol is that most people don’t know that Dolly Parton wrote [the track]’.

“Parton wrote the song, which was recorded on June 13, 1973, for her one-time partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, from whom she was professionally splitting at the time. ‘I Will Always Love You’ received positive comments from critics and attained commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart two times. Parton later re-recorded the song in 1982, when it was included on the soundtrack of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Islands in the Stream

First recorded (as a demo) by The Bee Gees (1983).
Hit version by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers (US #1/C&W #1/UK #7/CAN #1/AUS #1/NZ #2/SWE #3 1983).

“Islands in the Stream” is a timeless song penned by the Bee Gees, taking its name from the classic Ernest Hemingway novel. Originally conceived in an R&B style for Diana Ross (or Marvin Gaye, depending upon which Gibb brother tells you the story), the Gibbs later adapted it for inclusion in Kenny Rogers’ album, Eyes That See in the Dark.

In a candid revelation on Good Morning America, Kenny Rogers shared his initial aversion to ‘Islands in the Stream’. Despite his reservations, the transformative moment came when producer and co-writer Barry Gibb recognized the missing piece. After days of experimentation in the studio, Gibb declared, ‘We need Dolly Parton to make this thing pop.’ Serendipitously, Ken Kragen, Kenny’s manager, encountered Dolly at a grocery store, swiftly bringing her into the project.

The magic unfolded after Dolly joined the session. Kenny Rogers, who had previously harbored doubts, experienced a change of heart, declaring, “Now, I like the song.” The collaboration between Rogers and Parton not only elevated “Islands in the Stream” to legendary status but also stands as a testament to the unpredictable and serendipitous nature of musical alchemy.

“Islands in the Stream” knocked Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” out of the #1 slot on the Billboard Hot 100, also topping the Country and Adult Contemporary listings. In December of that year, it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over two million physical copies in the US.

The song was equally an international success, topping the Australian music chart one for one week in December 1983, and peaking at #7 on the UK Singles Chart.

Robin Gibb, interviewed re: “Islands in the Stream”:

Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, “Islands in the Stream” (1983):