Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Gordon Lightfoot

Early Morning Rain

First released by Ian & Sylvia (1965).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #91/MOR #13 1965), George Hamilton IV (C&W #9 1966), Oliver (MOR #38 1971), Paul Weller (UK #40 2005).
Also recorded by The Grateful Dead (1965, released 2013), Gordon Lightfoot, writer (1966), Elvis Presley (1972).

From the wiki: “‘Early Morning Rain’ (sometimes ‘Early Mornin’ Rain’) was written by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. Lightfoot wrote and composed the song in 1964, but its genesis took root during a 1960 sojourn in Westlake, Los Angeles. Lightfoot sometimes became homesick and would go out to LAX on rainy days to watch the approaching aircraft. The imagery of the flights taking off into the overcast sky was still with him when, in 1964, he was caring for his 5-month-old baby son and he thought, ‘I’ll put him over here in his crib, and I’ll write myself a tune.’

Me and Bobby McGee

First recorded by Roger Miller (C&W #12 1969).
Other hit versions by Gordon Lightfoot (US #13/CAN #1 1970), Janis Joplin (US #1 1971). Jerry Lee Lewis (US #40/MOR #39/CAN #50 1971).
Also recorded by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (1969), Kris Kristofferson (1970), The Statler Brothers (1970).

From the wiki: “Roger Miller was the first artist to record and to have a hit with ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, written by Kris Kristofferson (‘Help Me Make Through the Night‘, ‘Lovin’ Her Was Easier (That Anything I’ll Ever Do Again‘) and Fred Foster, peaking with it at #12 on the US Country chart in 1969.

“Kenny Rogers & the First Edition then covered the song (with Rogers on lead vocals), releasing it in on their album Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town in 1969. Gordon Lightfoot’s 1970 recording hit #13 on the US pop chart and #1 country in his native Canada in 1970, and was also a Top-10 hit in South Africa in 1971.

“Just a few days before her death in October 1970, Janis Joplin covered the song for inclusion on her forthcoming Pearl album. Kristofferson had previously sung the song for Joplin, and singer Bob Neuwirth had taught it to her. Kristofferson, however, did not know Joplin had recorded ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ until after her death – the first time he heard it was the day after she died. Joplin’s version topped the charts in 1971 to become her only #1 single and, in 2004, her recording of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Kristofferson would record an arrangement of his own song for his 1970 debut album, Kristofferson.