Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Paul McCartney


First recorded by Thomas Wayne with the DeLons (US #5 1958).
Other hit versions by The Fleetwoods (US #10 1961) Brian Hyland (US #56 1969).
Also recorded by Paul McCartney (1971, released 2018).

From the wiki: “‘Tragedy’ was written by Gerald H. Nelson and Fred B. Burch. The first recording of the song, produced in October 1958 by Thomas Wayne with the DeLons, rose to #5 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1959. Recorded in Memphis and produced by Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley’s guitarist, the arrangement was made with a trio of girls recruited from the local high school. A 1961 cover version by The Fleetwoods rose to #10 on the charts. Brian Hyland (‘Sealed With a Kiss’, 1962; ‘Gypsy Woman‘, 1970) also recorded it and released it as a single in 1969, but it only made it to #56.

Ain’t She Sweet

First recorded by Lou Gold & His Orchestra (1926).
Hit versions by Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (US #1 1927), Johnny Marvin (US #14 1927), Gene Austin (US #4 1927), Mr. Ford & Mr. Goon-Bones (US #14 1947), The Beatles (recording as “The Beat Brothers”, 1961 |US #19/UK #29 1964).
Also recorded by Gene Vincent (1956), Duffy Power (1959), The Beatles (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Ain’t She Sweet’ was composed by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics). Ager wrote the song for his daughter Shana Ager, who in her adult life was known as the political commentator Shana Alexander. ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ became popular in the first half of the 20th century as one of the hit songs that typified the Roaring Twenties. Like ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ (1929), it became a Tin Pan Alley standard. Both Ager and Yellen were later elected to membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

One After 909

First recorded by The Quarrymen (1958).
Also recorded by The “Beatals” (1960), The Beatles (1962), The Beatles (1963).
First released by Terry Manning (1968).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1969).

From the wiki: “‘One After 909’ is the oldest known Beatles song.

“It was written as early as 1957, one of the first Lennon-McCartney compositions (‘[‘One After 909′] was something I wrote when I was about seventeen,’ John Lennon explained in his 1980 Playboy magazine interview), and was first recorded c. 1958 by The Quarrymen according to Mike McCartney.

“The then-named ‘Beatals’ also recorded ‘One After 909’ sometime between January-August 1960, after Stu Sutcliffe had joined as the bass player but before the addition of Pete Best on drums. The Beatles, sans Sutcliffe but with Best on drums, also recorded the song during rehearsals in 1962 at The Cavern Club, Liverpool. The group first recorded ‘One After 909’ in a studio during the 1962 sessions for the group’s third single, ‘From Me to You’, with Ringo Starr on drums, but that recording was unreleased until Anthology I in 1995.

I’ll Follow the Sun

First recorded by The Silver Beetles (1960).
Hit album version by The Beatles (EP UK #5 1965/SWE #4 1965).

From the wiki: “‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ was written and sung by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It appears on the Beatles for Sale album in the UK and on Beatles ’65 in the US, but was written long before. A version recorded in 1960 can be found in the bootleg record You Might As Well Call Us the Quarrymen.

“When asked about the lyrics, McCartney would recall, ‘I wrote that in my front parlour in Forthlin Road. I was about 16. ‘I’ll Follow The Sun’ was one of those very early ones. I seem to remember writing it just after I’d had the flu and I had that cigarette. I remember standing in the parlour, with my guitar, looking out through the lace curtains of the window, and writing that one.’


Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1968).
Hit version by Mary Hopkin (US #13/UK #2/CAN #14/NETH #1 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Goodbye’ is a song written by Paul McCartney (but credited to Lennon–McCartney) and performed by Mary Hopkin. The song was conceived as a follow-up to the success of Hopkin’s first single, produced by McCartney, titled ‘Those Were the Days‘, highlighted on her debut album Postcard, one of the first records issued by the newly founded Apple Records.

Come and Get It

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1969).
Hit version by Badfinger (US #7/UK #4 1969).

From the wiki: “Paul McCartney recorded a solo demo of his song on 24 July 1969, when he arrived early for an Abbey Road album session. He sang the double-tracked lead vocal and played all the instruments: he sang and played piano on the first take, sang again and played maracas on the first overdub, drums came third and bass guitar was added last. It took less than an hour to finish.


First recorded by The Beatles (FRA #1/NOR #1/NZ #1 1966).
Other hit versions by The Overlanders (UK #1 1966), Billy Vaughn (US #77/MOR #17 1966), David & Jonathan (US #18/UK #11 1966), The Spokesmen (US #106 1966), Bud Shank & Chet Baker (US #65/MOR #12 1966).
Also recorded by Jan & Dean (1966), The Singers Unlimited (1971).

From the wiki: “One of Rubber Soul’s most memorable songs, ‘Michelle’ was written by Paul McCartney with a little help from the wife of an old schoolfriend. The song is one of McCartney’s oldest compositions, having been started around 1959; composed on his first-ever guitar, a Zenith. ‘Michelle’ won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1967 and has since become one of the best-known and most-often recorded of all Beatles songs … but was never released in the US or the UK by the Beatles as a single (although Beatles’ singles of ‘Michelle” did top singles charts in France and Norway).

“After The Beatles declined to release the song as a single, ‘Michelle’ became a UK hit in 1966 for The Overlanders. Of all the covers recorded of ‘Michelle’ released to date, the recording by David & Jonathan (nom de plume of songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenway, ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing‘) was the only recording of ‘Michelle’ that made the US Billboard Top 40.

Oh! Darling

First recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1969).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1969).
Hit version by Robin Gibb (US #15/MOR #22/NZ #40 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Oh! Darling’ was a song by The Beatles composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and appearing as the fourth song on the album, Abbey Road, in 1969. Its working title was ‘Oh! Darling (I’ll Never Do You No Harm)’. McCartney later said of recording the track, ‘When we were recording ‘Oh! Darling’ I came into the studios early every day for a week to sing it by myself [on the piano] because at first my voice was too clear. I wanted it to sound as though I’d been performing it on stage all week.’ McCartney would only try the song once each day; if it was not right he would wait until the next day.

Let It Be

First recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1969).
First released by Aretha Franklin (1970).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #2/CAN #4/AUS #1/NZ #1/IRE #1/MOR #1/GER #2 1970), Ferry Aid (UK #1 1987).

From the wiki: “‘Let It Be’ was written by Paul McCartney (but credited to Lennon-McCartney), recorded by The Beatles, and released in March 1970 as a single and (in an alternate mix) as the title track of the group’s album Let It Be. But, The Beatles weren’t the first to release this song: Aretha Franklin was. The Queen of Soul recorded it in December, 1969, and it was released on her album This Girl’s In Love With You (but not as a single) in January, 1970, two months before The Beatles released their US and UK single in March 1970.

The Fool on the Hill

First recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1967).
Hit album/EP version by The Beatles (1967).
Also recorded by Sharon Tandy (1968).
Hit single versions by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (US #6/MOR #1/AUS #14 1968), Eddie Fisher (1968), Shirley Bassey (UK #48 1969).

From the wiki: “‘The Fool on the Hill’ was written by Paul McCartney (but credited to Lennon-McCartney) and was his major contribution to the Magical Mystery Tour EP and album, released in late 1967, and to the Magical Mystery Tour TV film broadcast on Boxing Day (December 26), 1967. McCartney recorded a solo demo version of the song in the on 6 September 1967. The recording of the song by the group began in earnest on 25 September and was completed in two days, with flutes added a month later.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Originally recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1968).
Hit versions by The Marmalade (UK #1/NOR #1 1968), The Bedrocks (UK #20 1968), The Spectrum (GER #19 1968), Paul Desmond (MOR #35 1969), Arthur Conley (US #51/R&B #41 1969), The Beatles (AUS #1/JPN #1 1969 |US #49 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ is a song credited to Lennon–McCartney, but written by Paul McCartney. Released by The Beatles on their 1968 album The Beatles (commonly called The White Album), the song was released as a single that same year in many countries – except not in the United Kingdom, nor in the United States until 1976.

“During May 1968, after their return from India, The Beatles gathered at George Harrison’s Esher home, in Surrey, to record demos for their upcoming project. ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ was one of the twenty-seven demos recorded there. Paul performed this demo solo, with only an acoustic guitar but double-tracking his vocal.

A World Without Love

First recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1963).
Hit version by Peter & Gordon (US #1/UK #1 1964).
Also recorded by Bobby Rydell (US #80 1964), The Supremes (1964).

From the wiki: “Paul McCartney did not think the song was good enough for The Beatles. Prior to giving the song to Peter & Gordon, he offered it to Billy J. Kramer, who rejected it. McCartney wrote the song when he was 16. In 1963, when he moved into the London home of his then-girlfriend Jane Asher, sharing a room with her brother Peter Asher, he offered the song to Asher and Gordon Waller after the pair obtained a recording contract as Peter & Gordon.

Love is Strange

First recorded by Bo Diddley (May 1956, released 2007).
Hit versions by Mickey & Sylvia (US #11/R&B #1 October 1956), Maddox Brothers & Rose (C&W #82 1957), Betty Everett & Jerry Butler (R&B #42 1964), The Everly Brothers (UK #11, 1965), Peaches & Herb (US #13/R&B #16 1967).
Also recorded by Wings (1971).

From the wiki: “The song was based on a guitar riff by Jody Williams. The song was written by Bo Diddley under the name of his wife at the time, Ethel Smith. The first recorded version of ‘Love Is Strange’ was performed by Diddley, who completed it in a session on May 24, 1956 with Williams on lead guitar.

“However, Diddley’s version was not released until its appearance in 2007 on I’m a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958. (Diddley would maintain that he just never got around to releasing the record.)

Those Were the Days

Original English-language recording by The Limeliters (1962).
Hit versions by Sandie Shaw (UK #51 1968), Mary Hopkin (US #2/UK #1/CAN #1/JPN #1/FRA #1/SWE #1 1968).

From the wiki: “‘Those Were the Days’ is a song credited to Gene Raskin, who put English lyrics to the Russian romance song ‘Dorogoi dlinnoyu’ (‘Дорогой длинною’, lit. ‘By the long road’), composed by Boris Fomin (1900–1948) with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevskii. It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism. First recorded in 1926, by Alexander Vertinsky, the song was featured in the 1953 British/French movie Innocents in Paris, in which it was sung with its original Russian lyrics by the Russian tzigane chanteuse Ludmila Lopato.