Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Rod McKuen

Love’s Been Good to Me

Written and first released by Rod McKuen (1964).
Also recorded by The Kingston Trio (1964), Mark Lindsay (1969).
Hit version by Frank Sinatra (US #75/MOR #8/UK #8 1969).

From the wiki: “Rod McKuen wrote over 1,500 songs, including ‘Love’s Been Good to Me’, ‘Seasons in the Sun‘, and ‘Jean‘, which have accounted for the sale of over 100 million records worldwide according to the Associated Press.

“First recorded in 1964 by McKuen, the Kingston Trio covered ‘Love’s Been Good to Me’ the same year for their own album, The Kingston Trio (Nick Bob John). In 1969, Frank Sinatra commissioned an entire album of poems and songs by McKuen. Arranged by Don Costa, it was released under the title A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen. The album featured the song ‘Love’s Been Good to Me’, which then would become one of McKuen’s best-known songs.

“Former Paul Revere & the Raiders lead singer Mark Lindsay would also cover ‘Love’s Been to Me’ in 1969, for his debut solo album, Arizona


Written and first recorded by Rod McKuen (1969).
Hit version by Oliver (US #2 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Jean’ was written by the American poet and composer Rod McKuen (‘Seasons in the Sun‘) who first recorded the song in 1969 as the theme to the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. ‘Jean’ would go to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song. Although released as a single in the summer of 1969, McKuen’s version of the song failed to reach the American music charts. A cover of ‘Jean’ would later be released in 1969 by Oliver, selected as the follow-up single to Oliver’s hit ‘Good Morning Starshine’. Of the ‘Jean’ recording, Oliver would recall: ‘We had no idea it would be a [hit] single. It was a 3/4 ballad in the psychedelic era … it was a beautiful arrangement.'”

Seasons in the Sun

Recorded (in English) by The Kingston Trio (1963).
Adapted from “Le Moribond” by Jacques Brel & Rod McKuen (1961).
Also recorded by Rod McKuen (1964), The Beach Boys (1973).
Hit version by Terry Jacks (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1 1974).

From the wiki: “‘Seasons in the Sun’ is the English-language adaptation of a 1961 song, ‘Le Moribond’, composed by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel with English lyrics by American singer-poet Rod McKuen (‘Jean‘). The original French-language song included sarcasm and references to the speaker’s wife’s infidelity.

“The Kingston Trio recording was the first cover version of McKuen’s translation in 1963. McKuen would include a performance of his own work on the 1964 album Rod McKuen Sings Jacques Brel.

“Terry Jacks had had considerable success in his native Canada as half of the duo The Poppy Family (‘Which Way You Goin’ Billy’, 1969) with his wife, Susan. He was friends with The Beach Boys, who asked him to produce a song for them – something Jacks was honored to do. Terry played them his arrangement of ‘Seasons in the Sun’ and suggested they record it, thinking it would sound great with Beach Boy harmonies and with Carl Wilson singing lead.