Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Helen Reddy

We’ll Sing in the Sunshine

First recorded (as “Sing in the Sunshine”) by Hoyt Axton with The Sherwood Singers (1963)
Hit versions by Gale Garnett (US #4/MOR #1/AUS #10/NZ #1 1964), The Lancastrians (UK #44 1964), Helen Reddy (MOR #12 1978).

From the wiki: “‘We’ll Sing in the Sunshine’ was written by Gale Garnett for her then-boyfriend, Hoyt Axton, and was first recorded in 1963 by Axton (‘Joy to the World‘, ‘No No Song‘) and The Sherwood Singers for the groups’ 1963 album The Happy Song. Garnett recorded her own version a year later, scoring a US Top-10 hit and reaching #1 in her native New Zealand. The song went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1965.

“In the UK, ‘We’ll Sing in the Sunshine’ was covered by The Lancastrians in a version featuring guitar work from both Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan. Helen Reddy’s 1978 cover, produced by Kim Fowley, was issued as a single. Although it reached #12 on the MOR music chart, Reddy’s recording became the first lead single from a Reddy album to miss the Billboard Hot 100. Nonetheless, the song took on new life when Reddy sang the song on The Muppet Show while singing and dancing with Sopwith the Camel.”

You’re My World

First recorded (in English) by Cilla Black (US #26/MOR #4/UK #1 1964).
Other hit versions by Daryl Braithwaite (AUS #1 1974), Guys ‘n Dolls (NETH #1/BEL #1 1977), Helen Reddy (US #18/CAN #13/MEX #1 1977).

From the wiki: “The ballad ‘You’re My World’ was originally recorded in 1963 as ‘Il Mio Mondo’ (‘My World’) by Umberto Bindi, who co-wrote the Italian-language version with Gino Paoli. Although the original Italian version was not a hit, even in Italy, the song came to the attention of UK record producer George Martin who commissioned an English-language version to be recorded by his protégée Cilla Black (‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, ‘Alfie‘, ‘Love of the Loved‘). Black’s second consecutive #1 hit in the UK, ‘You’re My World’ would be the first track by Black to be released in the US. Peaking at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964 (and #4 on the MOR chart), ‘You’re My World’ would be Black’s only US Top 40 hit.

Somewhere in the Night

First single release by Yvonne Elliman (US August 1975).
Also recorded by Richard Kerr (UK August 1975), Kim Carnes (1975).
Hit versions by Batdorf & Rodney (US #69 1975), Helen Reddy (US #19/MOR #2/CAN #27 1975) and Barry Manilow (US # 9/UK #42 1978).

From the wiki: “The first song composed by Richard Kerr and Will Jennings as a team, ‘Somewhere in the Night’ appeared on four 1975 album releases: You Are a Song by Batdorf & Rodney and Rising Sun by Yvonne Elliman both released in June 1975, No Way to Treat a Lady by Helen Reddy released July 1975, and Kim Carnes’ November 1975 eponymous album release. The Yvonne Elliman version was released as a US single in August 1975, which also saw the release of a ‘Somewhere in the Night’ single in the UK recorded by the song’s co-writer Richard Kerr.

I Believe in Music

Written and first recorded by Mac Davis (US #117/MOR #25 1971).
Other hit versions by Helen Reddy (AUS #2 1971), Gallery (US #22/MOR #12 1972).
Also recorded by Donny Hathaway (1971).

From the wiki: “‘I Believe in Music’ was written and first recorded, in 1971, by Mac Davis. His recording made a minor dent in the pop charts, ‘bubbling under’ the Billboard Hot 100 but peaking at #25 on the MOR song chart. Helen Reddy and Donny Hathaway also recorded versions of ‘I Believe in Music’ in 1971. Reddy’s recording peaked at #2 on the Australian music chart; Hathaway’s production was not released as a single but appeared on his 1971 self-titled album, Donny Hathaway.

“Gallery’s 1972 recording of ‘I Believe in Music’ was the second of three singles released from their Nice to Be with You album, peaking at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100.”

You and Me Against the World

Co-written and first recorded by Paul Williams (1974).
Hit version by Helen Reddy (US #9 1974).

From the wiki: “‘You and Me Against the World’ was the first song written together by Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams and began as a gag song: Williams and Ascher, a member of Williams’s band, had a discussion about their favorite songwriters which led to the spontaneous composition of a song on the subject whose tune, Ascher then realized, had real hit potential. Williams himself debuted ‘You and Me Against the World’ on his 1974 album Here Comes Inspiration, singing it as a traditional love ballad.

This Masquerade

Written and first recorded by Leon Russell (B-side US #11/CAN #5 1972).
Also recorded by Helen Reddy (1972).
Hit versions by The Carpenters (B-side US #1/UK #2/CAN #1/AUS #1 1973), George Benson (US #10/R&B #3 1976).

From the wiki: “‘This Masquerade’ was written by Leon Russell (‘A Song for You‘), and first appeared on the B-side of the single ‘Tight Rope’ from Russell’s 1972 hit album Carney. Known mostly as a session musician early in his career, as a solo artist Russell crossed genres to include Rock and Roll, Blues, and Gospel music. As a first call studio musician in Los Angeles, Russell played on many of the most popular songs of the 1960s as a member of the Wrecking Crew, including Glen Campbell’s 1967 hit single ‘Gentle on My Mind‘, where Russell was credited on piano as ‘Russell Bridges’.

I Don’t Know How to Love Him

First recorded by Yvonne Elliman (US #28/MOR #15 1971 |UK #47 1972).
Other hit versions by Helen Reddy (US #13/MOR #12/CAN #8/AUS #2 1971), Petula Clark (UK #47 1972).

From the wiki: “‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice song for the 1970 Rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The song has been much recorded with it becoming one of only a handful of songs to have two concurrent recordings simultaneously reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ had first been published with different lyrics in the autumn of 1967, originally titled ‘Kansas Morning’. (The melody’s main theme has come under some scrutiny for being non-original, bearing a resemblance to a theme from Mendelssohn’s ‘Violin Concerto in E Minor’.) Rice wrote new lyrics to ‘Kansas Morning’ when Lloyd Webber and he completed Jesus Christ Superstar in January 1970. Now, entitled ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’, the completed song was recorded at a June 1970 Decca Records recording session by Yvonne Elliman – in one take.

Delta Dawn

Co-written and first recorded by Alex Harvey (1971).
Also recorded by Dianne Davidson (1972), Bette Midler (1973).
Hit versions by Tanya Tucker (C&W #6/CAN #3 1972), Helen Reddy (US #1/MOR #1/CAN #1/AUS #1 1973).

From the wiki: “‘Delta Dawn’ was written by written by former child rockabilly star Larry Collins and songwriter Alex Harvey (not the Scottish musician of The Incredible Alex Harvey Band fame). The first recording of ‘Delta Dawn’ was made by Harvey for his eponymous album released in November 1971. Released as a single by Capitol Records, Harvey’s ‘Delta Dawn’ did not chart. Although Harvey opened for Helen Reddy – his Capitol label mate – at the Troubadour in January 1972, Reddy made no apparent connection with any of Harvey’s compositions at that time.


Written and first recorded by Kenny Rankin (1967).
Also recorded by Bobbie Gentry (1968), The Friends of Distinction (1969), Kenny Rankin (1972).
Hit versions by Georgie Fame (UK #16 1969), Helen Reddy (US #12/MOR #2 1973).

From the wiki: “Early in his career Rankin worked as a singer-songwriter, penning songs for pop-jazz artists like Carmen McRae (‘My Carousel’), Peggy Lee (‘In the Name of Love’), and Mel Tormé (‘Haven’t We Met’). He developed a considerable following during the 60’s & 70’s with a steady flow of his own albums, three of which broke into the Top 100 of the Billboard Album Chart. (Rankin also performed session work for other Columbia Records artists. Among other sessions, he played acoustic guitar on Bob Dylan’s breakthrough disc Bringing It All Back Home.)

“He appeared on The Tonight Show more than twenty times. Host Johnny Carson was so impressed by him that he wrote the liner notes to Rankin’s 1967 debut album Mind Dusters, which featured the single ‘Peaceful.’ Kenny’s friend Helen Reddy would reach #2 on the MOR chart and #12 Pop in 1973 with her cover recording.

“Earlier covers of ‘Peaceful’ were recorded by Bobby Gentry and The Friends of Distinction. Georgie Fame (‘Yeh Yeh’) was the first artist to chart with ‘Peaceful’, in the UK in 1969.”