Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Jimmie Rodgers (1960s)

Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

Adapted from “It It Wasn’t for Dickey” by Lead Belly (1937).
First recorded by The Weavers (US #19 1951).
Other hit versions by Jimmie Rodgers (US #3 1957), Frankie Vaughn (UK #8 1958).

From the wiki: “‘Kisses Sweeter than Wine’ is a love song written by The Weavers in 1950, and first recorded by the group in 1951. In his 1993 book Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Pete Seeger described the long genesis of this song. Apparently, Blues singer Lead Belly heard Irish performer Sam Kennedy in Greenwich Village singing the traditional Irish song ‘Drimmin Down’ aka ‘Drimmen Dow’, about a farmer and his dead cow. Lead Belly adapted the tune for his own farmer/cow song ‘If It Wasn’t for Dickey’, which he first recorded in 1937. Seeger liked Lead Belly’s version of the tune, and his chords as well. In 1950, the quartet The Weavers, which Seeger belonged to, had made a hit version of Lead Belly’s ‘Goodnight, Irene’, and they were looking for new, similar material.

Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man)

First recorded (as “Crooked Little House”) by Jimmie Rodgers (1960).
Hit version by The Serendipity Singers (US #6/MOR #2 1962).

From the wiki: “‘Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man)’ was written by rockabilly singer-songwriter Ersel Hickey, with the lyrics based on the English nursery rhyme ‘There Was A Crooked Man’, with a Calypso-flavored arrangement. It was first recorded in 1960 by country singer Jimmie Rodgers (‘Honeycomb’, ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’) with no apparent chart impact. (This Rodgers is not to be confused with country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers).

“In 1962, ‘Crooked Little Man’ was covered by The Serendipity Singers as their debut recording, and it charted Top-10 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts that year.”