Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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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.

“In the early 1960s Raskin, with his wife Francesca, played folk music around Greenwich Village in New York, including White Horse Tavern. They released an album which included the song, which was taken up by The Limeliters. The Raskins were international performers and played London’s Blue Angel club every year, always closing their show with the song. Paul McCartney frequented the club and, after the formation of The Beatles’ own Apple Records label, recalled the song when picking material for his protegee Mary Hopkin.

“Hopkin’s version was released on the back of her success on the television talent show Opportunity Knocks and around the time of its release popular singer Sandie Shaw was also asked to record the song by her management, feeling that it should be done by a ‘real’ singer. Shaw’s version was released as a single but did not beat the success of Hopkin’s version.”

Alexander Vertinsky, “Дорогой длинною” (1926):

Ludmila Lopato, “Dorogoi dlinnoyu” from Innocents in Paris (1953):

Sandie Shaw, “Those Were the Days” (1968):

Mary Hopkin, “Those Were the Days” (1968):

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