Readers of this blog know that I enjoy history and I enjoy music. Most music. Some music. Don’t buy me opera tickets. . . . I digress. Anyway, the history of certain popular songs is fascinating to me. Growing up in the 70s, I loved certain songs that I later found out originated in the 40s. While skimming Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits, by Fred Bronson, I came across a chapter, “The Top 100 Pre-Rock Era Remakes,” and was amazed to discover how many hits were recorded or written, years or even decades before.
Many people know, for example, that the 1960 hit, “The Twist,” by Chubby Checker was actually a remake of Hank Ballard’s record which had been released in 1959. Ballard wrote the song, and his version, originally the B-side of the record, reached number 28 on the Billboard charts. Chubby Checker’s version reached #1 not only in 1960, but again in 1962 making it the only record to reach #1 in two different years.
The Platters, who scored a multitude of their hits in the 1950s took a great deal of material from the 1930s. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” 1933 and “My Prayer,” 1939 are two examples.
Likewise, Connie Francis remade hits from decades before, including “If I Didn’t Care,” a remake of a 1939 hit by The Ink Spots, whose original version sold over 19 copies worldwide, making it at one point, one of the top 10 singles of all time. Francis’ “Who’s Sorry Now?” was originally written in 1923 and was actually featured in the Marx Brothers’ film, A Night in Casablanca.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and “It’s Now or Never,” are two signature Elvis Presley tunes, the former first recorded in 1927, and the latter based on the 1949 version of “There’s No Tomorrow,” by Tony Martin. Elvis’ “It’s Now or Never,” which has its basis in “O Sole mio” sold 20 million copies, making it Elvis biggest hit, and also one of the biggest sellers of all-time.
Bobby Vinton’s “There, I Said It Again,” is a remake of Vaughn Monroe’s 1945 version.
Pat Boone’s, “Love Letters in the Sand,” is a remake of the 1931 recording by Ted Black & His Orchestra.
“Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime,” which was a #1 song for Dean Martin in 1964, was originally recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1948.
There is a lesson in all these remake remarks, and that is that good music, from whatever era, endures. A great song might not find its best performer or arrangement immediately, but sooner or later, it will emerge.
Same song, different eras!