Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Judy Collins


First performed by The Story Clovers (1966).
First released by Judy Collins (1966).
Hit versions by Noel Harrison (US #56 1967), Herman van Veen (NETH #4 1969).
Also recorded by Leonard Cohen (1967).

From the wiki: “‘Suzanne’, written by Canadian poet Leonard Cohen, first appeared as the poem ‘Suzanne Takes You Down’ in Cohen’s 1966 book of poetry, Parasites of Heaven. As a song, it was first performed by The Stormy Clovers in 1966 and then recorded by Judy Collins, appearing on her 1966 album In My Life. It was later released by Cohen on his own debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (backed by The Stormy Clovers).

“In 1967, Noel Harrison’s version — the second released cover of the song — entered at #125 on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart in late September 1967, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #86 on October 28, peaking at #56 on November 25, 1967. (Cohen’s version would be released in December 1967.)

“In 1969, Herman van Veen’s Dutch-language version entered the Dutch Top 40 list in April 1969, peaking at #4 in May.”

From a Distance

First recorded by Nanci Griffith (1987).
Also recorded by Judy Collins (1989), The Byrds (1990).
Hit versions by Cliff Richard (UK #11/IRE #16 1990), Bette Midler (US #2/UK #6/AUS #8 1990).

From the wiki: “‘From a Distance’ was written in 1985 by American singer-songwriter Julie Gold. Gold was working as a secretary at the time for Home Box Office and writing songs in her free time. Gold’s friend, Christine Lavin, introduced the song to Nanci Griffith who was the first singer to record it, for her 1987 album Lone Star State of Mind. Griffith remembers Gold had sent her the song asking Griffith what was wrong with it, as Gold had already sent it to so many artists and record companies but no one wanted to produce a recording. Griffith answered that she loved it so much the moment she heard it that she wanted to record it ‘right then and there’.

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.

Turn! Turn! Turn!

First recorded (as “To Everything There is a Season”) by The Limeliters (1962).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (1962), Judy Collins (1963).
Hit version by The Byrds (US #1/UK #26 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)’, often abbreviated to ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’, is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and first recorded in 1962. The song was originally released as ‘To Everything There Is a Season’ on The Limeliters’ album Folk Matinee and later released then some months later on Seeger’s own album The Bitter and the Sweet.

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.