Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Paul Anka

My Way

Co-written and first recorded (as “Comme d’habitude”) by Claude François (1967).
Hit English-language versions by Frank Sinatra (US #27/MOR #2 1969), Dorothy Squires (UK #25 1970), Elvis Presley (US #22/MOR #6/UK #9 1977 |C&W #2 1978).
Also recorded by Paul Anka (1969).

From the wiki: “‘My Way’ was popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra. Its lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song ‘Comme d’habitude’ (‘As Usual’) co-written by Claude François, and first performed in 1967 by François.

“Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. He had heard the original 1967 French pop song by François while on holiday in the south of France. Anka flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song, acquiring adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere nominal, but formal, consideration of one dollar, subject to the provision that the melody’s composers would retain their original share of royalty rights with respect to whatever versions Anka or his designates created or produced.

“Some time later, Anka had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra during which Sinatra said ‘I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it; I’m getting the hell out.’ Back in New York, Anka re-wrote the original French song for Sinatra, subtly altering the melodic structure and changing the lyrics.

The “Tonight Show” Theme (“Johnny’s Theme”)

First recorded (as “Toot Tweet (It’s Really Love)”) by Tutti’s Trumpets (1959).
Also recorded (as “It’s Really Love”) by Annette Funicello (1960).
Best-known recording/s by The Tonight Show Band (1962).

From the wiki: “‘Johnny’s Theme’, performed as the theme song of ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ for 30 years, began life as ‘Toot Sweet’, a pop instrumental composed in 1959 by Paul Anka and recorded that same year by Tutti’s Trumpets as the B-side to The Camarata Strings’ single ‘Lost In a Fog’ released on Disney’s Buena Vista label. Salvatore ‘Tutti’ Camarata, the ‘Tutti’ of Tutti’s Trumpets and bandleader of the Camarata Strings, was Annette Funicello’s producer at the time. He asked Anka to contribute some songs for Funicello’s first album to follow her work on The Mickey Mouse Club. Anka added lyrics to ‘Toot Sweet’ and published them under the title ‘It’s Really Love’.


First recorded by The Rays (US #3/R&B #3 1957).
Other hit versions by The Diamonds (US #10/R&B #6 1957), Herman’s Hermits (US #5/UK #3 1965), Cliff Richard (UK #10 1990).
Also recorded by Frankie Lymon (1960), Bob Crewe, co-writer (1961), Paul Anka (1961), The Four Seasons (1964), The Nylons (1982).

From the wiki: “In May 1957, songwriter-producer Bob Crewe (‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)‘, ‘Lady Marmalade‘, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Silence is Golden‘) saw a couple embracing through a window shade as he passed-by on a train. He quickly set about turning the image into a song. Frank Slay, who owned the small Philadelphia record label XYZ with Crewe, added lyrics, and they soon had a complete song ready to record.

“The Rays’ original recording received a break when popular Philadelphia disc-jockey Hy Lit fell asleep at home listening to a stack of newly-released records on his record player. ‘Silhouettes’ happened to be the last record to play, and so it repeated until he woke up. Lit began to playing the song on his show and it became popular enough that Cameo-Parkway picked it up for national distribution. The Rays’ ‘Silhouettes’ eventually reached #3 on Billboard Hot 100, while also hitting the Top-5 on both the sales and airplay charts. It became the group’s only Top 40 hit.

She’s a Lady

Written and first recorded by Paul Anka (1970).
Hit version by Tom Jones (US #2/R&B #42/UK #13 1971).
Also recorded by Paul Anka & Tom Jones (2013).

From the wiki: “‘She’s a Lady’ was written by Paul Anka, and was first on his album Paul Anka ’70s.

“‘She’s a Lady’ was most-famously performed by Tom Jones, becoming his highest-charting single to date in the US. The song was re-released in 2013 on Paul Anka’s Duets CD with a new recording featuring both Anka and Tom Jones.”