Old Songs, New Songs.....
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Thread: Old Songs, New Songs.....

  1. #1
    Moderator Venerated Elder TransWarpDrive's Avatar
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    Old Songs, New Songs.....

    This past holiday season I caught a show titled "Christmas In The 60's" on History Channel (at least I think that's what channel it was on). During the episode, they mentioned a Christmas song titled "Do You Hear What I Hear?" This song was written during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 by Noel Regney and Gloria Shane Baker, as a "prayer for peace" - their way of expressing their hopes and fears about the world's future during said crisis. (Ironically, the song was first recorded for commercial release by Bing Crosby on November 22, 1963 - the day President Kennedy was assassinated.)
    The first time I remember hearing this song was in December of 1970, when it was sung by a girls' chorus at my school during my sixth-grade year. Since I'd never heard it before then, I assumed it was a fairly new song, only recently released. Since then, I've heard a number of Christmas songs - and non-holiday songs as well - that I'd never heard before even though some were recorded years or even decades before. For example, I first heard the Christmas tune "Santa Baby" in December 1992, while I worked evenings and weekends at a men's clothing store in a local mall. The version I heard was sung by Madonna, in a silly Betty Boop/Judy Holliday-type voice, and I thought at the time that it was brand-new, like I did when I first heard "Do You Hear What I Hear?" As it turns out, the earliest version of "Santa Baby" I've found was recorded back in 1954 and sung by none other than Eartha Kitt, in a very sultry, seductive voice.
    Likewise, the first time I remember hearing Brenda Lee doing the original version of "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" was also during the '92 Christmas season, at the very same clothing store (these two songs were included on one of the Christmas-mix CDs they played on the sound system during business hours)! When I first heard this song, I liked it right away - it quickly became one of my all-time favorite Christmas tunes (even today). It was some years before I first learned when that song was first recorded, however.
    The point I'm trying to make with all this is that I've realized that there are lots of songs already recorded out there that I've not yet heard, and when I do, they'll sound brand-new to me until I discover when they were first recorded. It reminds me of a saying I read in a short story once: "Any book you haven't read is a new one." I guess the same applies to music.
    Anyway, I thought I'd post this here to get your thoughts and opinions on this. Has anyone else had a similar experience regarding a song they thought was brand-new, but discovered was really old? Feel free to post your comments.
    I now open the floor to discussion.

  2. #2
    Administrator Honored Elder jeriddian's Avatar
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    It's funny. In my previous career in music, one of the things I always noticed was that many songs considered new in pop music (or any kind of popular music), are actually remakes from earlier times. A lot of songs from the 50's were recycled in newer versions that were far more popular and people will often think they were original songs sung by the stars that sung them. There were actually very FEW truly new songs it seemed to me. For example, "The Power of Love" as sung by Celine Dion is one of her most enduring hits, yet it was recorded by other artists three times before her, one of those versions by Laura Branigan which was d*mn good in my opinion. Most people don't know or remember that. There were MANY songs re-recorded that way. How many people remember Linda Ronstadt's"Blue Bayou"? That was originally a Roy Orbison song. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of songs Linda did were remakes. She actually didn't write that many herself. Most of the writing was done by her back up band in the 60's, initially called the Stone Ponies, but who eventually broke away on their own and changed their name. They recorded their own songs that they wrote then. OF course, we know them now as The Eagles......or at least what is left of them now that Glenn Frey has died......dang it......
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  3. #3
    Moderator Venerated Elder TransWarpDrive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian View Post
    It's funny. In my previous career in music, one of the things I always noticed was that many songs considered new in pop music (or any kind of popular music), are actually remakes from earlier times. A lot of songs from the 50's were recycled in newer versions that were far more popular and people will often think they were original songs sung by the stars that sung them. There were actually very FEW truly new songs it seemed to me. For example, "The Power of Love" as sung by Celine Dion is one of her most enduring hits, yet it was recorded by other artists three times before her, one of those versions by Laura Branigan which was d*mn good in my opinion. Most people don't know or remember that. There were MANY songs re-recorded that way. How many people remember Linda Ronstadt's"Blue Bayou"? That was originally a Roy Orbison song. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of songs Linda did were remakes. She actually didn't write that many herself. Most of the writing was done by her back up band in the 60's, initially called the Stone Ponies, but who eventually broke away on their own and changed their name. They recorded their own songs that they wrote then. OF course, we know them now as The Eagles......or at least what is left of them now that Glenn Frey has died......dang it......
    It's interesting that you bring that point up (and it's a good one, BTW). I remember hearing the Beatles doing "Please Mr. Postman" on one of their first albums and thought it was one of theirs. It wasn't until some years later that I learned it was first recorded by someone else, back in the 50's (Though I'm not sure by who right now).
    IIRC, when a musician records a new version of a song previously recorded by someone else, they're said to be doing a "cover" of that song. Yet I'm still not sure why it's referred to that way. I once asked singer Debbie Gibson (via email) to explain the meaning, but she didn't know either. But you're right; a lot of songs we hear various artists sing were first recorded by someone else, giving those songs an illusion of "newness" (for want of a better term).
    But whether sung by the original artist or a contemporary performer doing a cover of it, a great many songs I've heard for the first time seemed brand-new to me, until I discovered how old they really were. My experience with "Do You Hear What I Hear?" as I already posted, is a prime example of that.

  4. #4
    Administrator Honored Elder jeriddian's Avatar
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    The term "cover" goes back decades when cover version originally described a rival version of a tune recorded to compete with the recently released (original) version. The Chicago Tribune described the term in 1952: "trade jargon meaning to record a tune that looks like a potential hit on someone else's label." But why the word "cover", I can't tell you.
    "Say the Word"

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