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did you know?

1) The original version of Unchained Melody was sung by Todd Duncan in the 1955 movie "Unchained"...

2) Smoke Gets In Your Eyes dates back to 1933 when it was sung by Tamara (Drasin) in the Broadway Musical "(Gowns By) Roberta"...

3) It‘s Raining Men was specially written for Donna Summer by Paul Jabara & Paul Shaffer (leader of the CBS Orch. on the Late Show with David Letterman). Donna refused to record the song as the phrase "It‘s Raining Men - Hallelujah" did not sit well with her religious beliefs. The song was then offered to a duo called the Weather Girls (previously known as the Two Tons O' Fun/Two Tons Of Fun) who recorded it for Columbia Records. The big hit came when Geri Halliwell (formerly Spice Girls) recorded it for EMI in England...

4) Que Sera, Sera was originally sung by Doris Day as "Whatever Will Be, Will Be" (US Columbia 45), who sang it as a ballad. However it became a rock hit for Australia‘s Normie Rowe (Sunshine 45) BUT!! that rock version was first done by the High Keyes on US Atco 45...

5) The Lord‘s Prayer was first recited by Dr. B. Sunderland on the US Emile Berliner label in 1898. John Charles Thomas sang his popular version for the US Victor label in 1935 after hearing the music written by Albert Hay Malotte. Australian Nun, Sister Janet Mead, sang The Lord's Prayer in a rock setting in 1973 which became an international success making her the first Roman Catholic nun to have a hit record in the United States since Jeanine Deckers, the Singing Nun, hit #1 with "Dominique" in late 1963

6) Jerry Lee Lewis had a monster hit with "Whole Lotta Shakin‘ Goin‘ On", written by America‘s Roy Hall (as Sunny David) & Dave "Curly" Williams. However the original version was recorded by Big Maybelle in March, 1955 (US Okeh label). Roy Hall then decided to record it himself (for US Decca in September, 1955). Next was Dolores Fredericks (also for US Decca) in October, 1955. Waiting in line were the Commodores (not the Soul group); they recorded it for the Dot label in December, 1955 - their version is closer to the rockabilly version we all know. Finally, good old Jerry Lee Lewis rocks up to the microphone and records his March, 1957 classic - exactly 2 years after Big Maybelle...

7) The version of "Stagger Lee" we all know and love was performed in 1958 by Lloyd Price on US ABC-Paramount label. But this song goes back much further than that. The song is based on a real-life event reported in the St. Louis Globe Democrat in 1895, where "William Lyons, 25, a levee hand, was shot.......by (Stag) Lee Sheldon, a carriage driver". The argument was over the ownership of a hat and Billy Lyons was indeed shot in a bar-room. Billy Lyons died and "Stag" Lee was tried and convicted of his murder; served time in prison, eventually dying in the 1910‘s. The story became a song and the earliest known recording is contained on an album titled "Negro Prison Songs from the Mississippi State Penitentiary". It has since been recorded by many, many Artists (Archibald~1950, Dr. John~1972 & Ma Rainey~1925, to name a few) and under many, many Titles (Stagger Lee, Stag-O-Lee, Stack-A-Lee, Stack-O-Lee~see Alias section for more). But the Artists who first popularised this classic Rhythm n‘ Blues song were...........Fred Waring‘s Pennsylvanians (US Victor 1923)...

8) The tune to Be-Bop-A-Lula was written by Gene Vincent in 1955 while recuperating in hospital from a motorcycle accident. Another patient, Donald Graves, wrote the lyrics. The idea came to them after listening to a song called "Don‘t Bring Lulu". The first title was going to be Lulu Likes To Bop; then it was Boppin‘ Lula before finally settling on the title we now know it by. Bill "Sheriff Tex" Davis (a Nashville dee jay) became Gene‘s manager & bought out Graves‘ rights to the song allowing Davis to be credited as the lyric writer...

9) Danny Boy is a Celtic folk song set to the Irish tune "Londonderry Air". It was written in 1910 by Frederick Weatherly (who also wrote an alternate version called "Eily Dear" when sung by a male) and set to the tune in 1913. It was first recorded by Ernestine Schumann-Heink in 1915 and later popularised by Elsie Griffin. The tune "Londonderry Air" was collected by Jane Ross who heard a local Londonderry blind man, Jimmy McCurry, play it on his fiddle in 1851. The tune was first published in 1855...

10) Waltzing Matilda was written by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson & later used for Billy Tea ads in Australia. The tune is based on a Scottish melody "Thou Bonnie Wood Of Craigie-Lea", also known as the Craigielea March. This melody was in turn used in an English song called The Bold (or Gay) Fusilier also known as "The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant". These melodies were heard by Christina Macpherson who played them to Banjo Paterson. The resulting song "Waltzing Matilda" was first sung by Sir Herbert Ramsay in 1895 [in Mick Fahey's Kynuna Hotel (Queensland, Australia) to mark the end of the sheepshearing strike that inspired Waltzing Matilda. Peter Dawson recorded his version in England in 1938. In 1901, Jack O'Hagan, wrote new words to the tune of Waltzing Matilda and called the song God Bless Australia. In the 50's Neil Williams recorded both versions which was picked up by Ampol Australia and pressed as a 45 record to be sold in their service stations throughout Australia.

The term "Waltzing Matilda" refers to carrying a swag (hence "Swagman") but this term was borrowed from the German song "Auf der Walz gehen mit Mathilde". One story is that Mathilde was a German Goddess known as a "Mighty Woman" – another version is that a Mathilde was a specialized prostitute who followed soldiers & tradesmen to give them comfort in their travels. Either way, to walz (roll along) Mathilde came to mean carrying all your possessions on the road in a small rucksack or bed-roll (nick-named "Mathilde") made of animal skin & fur as the German tradesmen did in their day....

11) Originally written in 1949 (but not published until 1951) by Patricia Smith (real name: Gloria Parker) & Don Fenton (real name: Barney Young). They called it Supercalfajalistckespialadojus or Supercalafajalistckespeealadojus. This version was recorded in 1950 by Alan Holmes & his New Tones (Vocals: Hal Marquess & the Holmes Men) on Columbia Special Products For Radio Stations (CO 42665). In 1965, the song surfaced as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, sung by Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke in the Disney movie "Mary Poppins". This version was written by Robert & Richard Sherman & was recorded by Jim Wheeler & Hawley Ades in 1964 for the US Reprise label. In 1967, there was a Court case over the rights to the song & it was decided in favour of Disney Studios because the Shermans wrote the rest of the song (as well as changing the spelling). At 34 letters, it is not the longest word in the English language - that honour belongs to some scientific name I will not attempt to write here. It is also a long way from being the longest song title (see the Rednex listings) although it does have the distinction of being the longest single word in a song title (the shortest being "I", which is also the entire name of the song)...

12) The Mexican Hat Dance is actually two tunes combined into one - Jarabe Tapatio & La Raspa. La Raspa originated in Vera Cruz and is a dance often performed during celebrations. Jarabe Tapatio had its origins in Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, and was played by local mariachi bands who handed down their tunes to the younger members over the years. One of these was Gaspar Vargas who was the first to popularise the tune outside of his own region. His band was called The Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan n, first formed in 1898 and still going today, making it one of the oldest continuous orchestras in the world (with one or two new members I suspect)...

13) Daniel Rodriguez sang The Star Spangled Banner at the World Trade Center Memorial Service on 28 October, 2001. The words were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 as a poem entitled "The Defence Of Fort McHenry" but the melody is based on an English song "To Anacreon In Heaven" written in 1780 by John Stafford Smith. The Star Spangled Banner became the official United States national anthem on 3 March, 1931…

14) The Can Can was written by Jacques Offenbach in 1858 & is contained in the Operetta "Orphee aux Enfers" (Orpheus In The Underworld). The Can Can is actually the name of the style of dance popularised by Le Folies Bergeres (Follies Bergere) at Le Moulin Rouge (Red Mill) at Promendia 2 in Paris, and is still being performed today...

15) La Marseillaise was composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle on 24 April, 1792 during the French Revolution. Originally called "Chant de guerre de l‘arme du Rhin" the name was changed to La Marseillaise and was adopted as the French national Anthem on 14 July, 1795. It was banned by Napoleon, Louis XVIII as well as Napoleon III and was not reinstated until 1879...

 16) Hava Nagila originated as a folk tune with the Sadigor Hasidim in the Ukraine. It was first recorded as a chant in 1915 by Abraham Zevi Idelsohn who was born in Latvia (previously Russia) but recorded in Israel (previously Palestine). Moshe Nathanson was the first to record the song with lyrics (in Israel, 1932) which were written by Abraham Zevi Idelsohn in conjunction with Moshe Nathanson...

17) God Save The King (Queen) was first published in 1744 in Thesaurus Musicus (Author/Composer unknown) & first performed in 1745 for King George II. It has been used as a National Anthem in England plus all countries of the British Commonwealth, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Switzerland & Liechtenstein. In America the tune is used for America (My Country, ‘Tis Of  Thee) & it is under this Title that the tune was first recorded in 1899 by George J. Gaskin on the E. Berliner‘s Gramophone label...
 
18) Advance, Australia Fair was written by Peter Dodds McCormick (a Scot) & first performed on 30 November, 1878 (St. Andrew‘s Day) by Andrew Fairfax in Sydney, Australia. It was adopted as the Australian National Anthem on 19 April, 1984...

19)
The song "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (originally named "The Star") was written by sisters Jane & Ann Taylor in 1806 as a poem. The poem was later coupled with a French melody "Ah! - vous dirai-je, Maman" which was written in 1761. The original poem did not include the words Twinkle, Twinkle - these words were added to fit the tune...

 20) The Scarborough Fair originated in 1253 by a Charter granted by King Henry III of England. The refrain to the song derives from the Scottish ballad "The Elfin Knight" (Child Ballad # 2) (1670). The reference to "Scarborough Fair" and "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" comes from the ballad "Riddles Wisely Expounded" (Child Ballad # 1)(ca. 1712)...

 21) Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song and tune first registered at the London Stationer‘s Company in 1580 as "A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves" during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (There is no evidence that her father, King Henry VIII wrote this song). It then appears in the surviving A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584) as "A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves. The tune of Greensleeves was first played on the lute by John Dowland in the early 1600‘s...

 22) We all know Mack The Knife from the famous 1955 rendition by Louis Armstrong but the song originated from a 1928 German Opera "Die Dreigroschenoper" (or "The Threepenny Opera") composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht. In the Opera the song is called "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" sung by Harald Paulsen. The singer Lotte Lenya also starred in the original production & she gets an impromtu mention by Louis Armstrong in his version. The song became a hit again in 1959 for Bobby Darin who again gives Lotte a mention. "Macheath" in the song refers to Mackie Messer, the villain, who is compared to a shark & goes on to list his terrible crimes of robbery, murder, rape & arson...

 23) K.C. Loving was written in 1952 by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller for Little Willie Littlefield who recorded it for the Federal label - later versions were re-named Kansas City. The most famous version was by Wilburt Harrison, recorded in 1959 (U.S. Fury label)...

 24) Amazing Grace was written in 1772 by English Sea Captain John Newton who at the time was a slave trader. After undergoing a spiritual conversion he wrote some verses based on 1 Chronicles 17:16 - 17 of the Bible which are known as John Newton‘s Hymn XLI (Faith‘s Review And Expectation). A collection of these Hymns was published as the Olney Hymns in 1779. The first recording of the song (under the Title "New Britain") was in 1922 by the Original Sacred Harp Choir (on U.S. Brunswick). The first recording under the Title "Amazing Grace" was by Rev. J.M. Gates in 1926 (on U.S. Paramount)...

 25) It is not known who actually wrote The House Of The Rising Sun but the first recorded version was by Ashley & Foster (as Rising Sun Blues - Vocalion 1933). Other notable versions were by Homer Callahan (from the Callahan Bros.) as Rounder‘s Luck (ARC 1934), Georgia Turner (as Risin‘ Sun Blues - recorded by Alan Lomax* for the Library Of Congress in 1937), Roy Acuff & his Smoky Mountain Boys (as The Rising Sun - U.S. Columbia 1938), Libby Holman (Decca - 1942), Leadbelly (as In New Orleans - Smithsonian Folkways 1948). Then comes Eric Burdon & the Animals who stormed in with their monster hit The House Of The Rising Sun in 1964 for the British label Columbia. *In 1953 Alan Lomax heard  British folksinger Harry Cox sing Matty Groves (which he called "She Was A Rum One") & noted the similarities with The House Of The Rising Sun. The song Matty Groves dates back to the 1600‘s. Part of one verse goes: "If you go to Lowestoft and ask for the Rising Sun, there you‘ll find two old whores, and my old woman‘s one"....

 26) The eight reindeer named in the song "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" came from a poem written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822, "Twas The Night Before Christmas" but this was based on an earlier poem called "A Visit From St. Nicholas" written by Major Henry Livingston Jr. in 1807. The reindeer were originally named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder (aka Dunder, Donner) & Blixem (aka Bliksem, Blitzen). The last two names mean "thunder" & "lightning" in Dutch. In later versions of the poem those names became Donner & Blitzen, the names used in Gene Autry‘s song. The name Rudolph is not mentioned in the poem, that name came from the story/colouring book "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" written in 1939 by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward department store. Later his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, wrote the song which was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949...

 27) The song "Turkey In The Straw" was first popularised in the early 19th century with the first known performance by Bob Farrell in 1834 at the Bowery Theatre, New York under the title "The Original Zip Coon". The earliest known recording is by Billy Golden as Turkey In The Straw (Columbia cylinder - 1891). It has since become a staple as a hillbilly song & is popular for Square Dances.

 28) The song "Daisy Bell" (aka A Bicycle Built For Two/Daisy Daisy) was originally performed by Kate Lawrence in the London Music Hall in 1892. Inspired by Daisy, the Countess of Warwick, Frances Evelyn Maynard, Mistress to the Prince Of Wales who later became King Edward VII of England. "Daisy Bell" was written by Harry Dacre, an English composer. When he first came to the United States in 1892, he brought with him a bicycle, for which he was charged duty. His friend (the songwriter William Jerome) remarked lightly: "It‘s lucky you didn‘t bring a bicycle built for two, otherwise you‘d have to pay double duty." Dacre was so taken with the phrase ‘bicycle built for two‘ that he decided to use it in a song...

29) "The Charleston" song was written by James P. Johnson however he did not record it until 1925 (it was first recorded by Arthur Gibbs & his Gang - Victor (1923)). The Charleston Dance originated in 1923 at the Ziegfeld Follies but was popularised by Elisabeth Welsh with the Dancing Redcaps in the Runnin‘ Wild Revue...

30) Sweet Adeline has long been a favourite of Barber Shop Quartets. It was written by Harry Armstrong in 1896 (as My Old New England Home) & first published in 1903, with lyrics by Richard H. Gerard, who used the title "You‘re The Flower Of My Heart, Sweet Rosalie". Inspired by a visit by Italian opera singer Adelina Patti, the title was changed to (You‘re The Flower Of My Heart) Sweet Adeline. It was originally performed in 1904 by the Quaker City Four at the Hammerstein Theater in Philadelphia & recorded by Harry Armstrong under the title "(You‘re The Flower Of My Heart) Sweet Adeline"...

31) Jingle Bells was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont who copyrighted it under the name "One Horse Open Sleigh". Over the years the words have been changed slightly (the original words were about a young man skylarking with his girl in the sleigh & had no connection to Christmas). There is also a French version "Vive Le Vent" (Long Live The Wind) & a German version "Christkindl". The Edison Male Quartette recorded their version in 1898 & is the earliest surviving recording of the song. There was an earlier recording in 1889 by banjoist Will Lyle but no copies survive...

32) We‘re all familiar wth the poem "Footprints In The Sand" - for decades the Author was simply shown as Anonymous. In 1984 Mary Stevenson (married name Zangare) found a hand-written copy of her original poem which she composed in 1936. Later in 1984 she was awarded Copyright to the poem. In 1995, a Forensic Specialist authenticated the date on her copy, which had been written in 1939. Other variations of the poem have been written by Margaret Fishback Powers (1964) & Carolyn Carty (1963) and it is the latter version that Bill Anderson recorded. To see the three versions of Footprints In The Sand click this link... http://www.wowzone.com/fprints.htm

33) St. James Infirmary was based on a 17th Century ballad by Scottish piper MacCrimmon, The Unfortunate Rake (or The Unfortunate Lass) which was written about someone dying of syphilis on the stairs to St. James Hospital. Later versions were: Gambler‘s Blues by Fess Williams (1927); Dying Crapshooters Blues by Martha Copeland (1927); St. James Infirmary by Louis Armstrong (1929) & Death Room Blues (Blind Willie (1933). The Unfortunate Rake was recorded by A.L. Lloyd (Britain). The Unfortunate Lass was recorded in Britain by Norma Waterson, then by The Watersons (Norma & Lal) & by Eliza Carthy (Norma Waterson‘s daughter) in the latter half of the 20th century...

34) Aloha Oe (Farewell To Thee) was written by Queen Lidia Kamekeha Liliuokalani in 1878 after witnessing a farewell embrace between two of her friends. It was regularly performed by Henry Berger & the Royal Hawaiian Band who played it on the wharf at Honolulu Harbor as steamships departed. They first performed the song on the mainland in 1883 at the Triennial Conclave of the Knights Templar (Masons) in San Francisco. They were also first to record the song in 1904 for the Victor label ...

35) Milk Cow Blues was recorded by Papa Freddie in 1926 - Sleepy John Estes recorded his version in 1930 - Kokomo Arnold didn‘t get around to recording this song, which he wrote, until 1934. The problem for Kokomo Arnold was that as he travelled around singing his song, other Blues Artists were also learning the song, often making small changes. The Okeh label shows "Freddie" as the writer on the Papa Freddie version & this might be because nobody, including Freddie, knew the name of the original writer. I personally am satisfied that all three versions of Milk Cow Blues have the same genesis, i.e. Kokomo Arnold...

36)
Heartbreak Hotel was written by Thomas Durden & Mae Boren Axton (Hoyt Axton‘s mother) in 1955 - Durden had read a story in the Miami Herald of a suicide where the man left a note saying "I walk a lonely street" which became the inspiration for the song. However the melody (including the piano solo, played by Floyd Cramer on Elvis‘ hit version) came from a song called "Dreaming Blues" written & recorded by Roy Brown in 1950. This song was recorded by Roy Hawkins in 1951 as "The Condition I‘m In". Heartbreak Hotel was originally offered to the Wilburn Bros. who rejected it due to it‘s depressing overtones (you want to talk depressed - think about how the Wilburn Bros. felt when they saw what Elvis did with their song!). It fell to Rockabilly singer Glenn Reeves to record a demo which is now available on CD...

37) Gallarda (Gagliarda) Napolitana was composed by Antonio Valente (1520 - 1580) who was a blind church organist from Naples, Italy. This piece was later adapted by the Mariachi bands in Mexico (probably in the 1800‘s) to become a folk dance played at weddings: El Jarabe Veracruzano (The Wedding In Vera Cruz), later to be known as La Bamba...

38) There would be few people in the world who have not sung Happy Birthday To You in some form or another but who among us would know that those words were first used by a group of six year olds in kindergarten! Mildred Hill & Patty Smith Hill, who ran the kindergarten in Kentucky, came up with the idea to write a simple song for the children to sing first thing in the morning. They wrote the song they called Good Morning To You using the melody we are all so familiar with. The children came up with a variation which they sang when someone in the class was having a Birthday and this was used as a second chorus to the song they sang every day. My research indicates that both the melody & the lyrical idea may owe something to other songs extant at that time: Good Morning To All/Happy Greetings To All/A Happy Greeting To All/Good Night To You All/A Happy New Year To All. Be that as it may, the song was published as Good Morning To All in 1893 in a book called "Song Stories For The Kindergarten". In 1918 the song was published in Children‘s Praise And Worship & in 1924 Robert H. Coleman published it (apparently without permission) in a songbook which included the second "Happy Birthday" chorus - he again published it in 1933 in The American Hymnal. In 1934 a third Hill sister, Jessica, took the matter to Court & was granted the right to Copyright "Good Morning To All" including the second chorus of "Happy Birthday To You". This Copyright is still in existance today and until 2030.
In 1933, Lucille Lipps sang the song to Rudy Vallee on his Birthday in the first Singing Telegram. Most famously Marilyn Monroe sang it in Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962 to President John F. Kennedy for his 48th Birthday...

39) Now Is The Hour was originally written in 1913 as the Swiss Cradle Song by Clement Scott, an Englishman travelling in New Zealand, based on a traditional Maori melody. The Swiss Cradle Song was published in Australia as a piano piece by W.H. Paling and Co. In 1915 Maori words were added by the Grace & Awatere families of Tuparoa & the song became known as Po Atarau. In 1920 these words were amended & re-written in English by Maewa Kaihau (in this version the opening verse starts with "This Is The Hour". In 1935 she amended the song again & it became known as the Haere Ra Waltz Song. In 1945, Gracie Fields heard the song on a trip to New Zealand. Her Manager, Dorothy Stewart changed the opening line to "Now Is The Hour" & added an extra verse...

40) Perhaps one of the most beautiful Christmas carols is Silent Night (aka Silent Night, Holy Night). The words were first written by Father Joseph Mohr in 1816 (as Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht) but it wasn‘t until Christmas Eve, 1818 that Father Mohr approached the local Headmaster, Franz Xaver Gruber, to write a melody. One story is that the Church organ had broken down and Father Mohr needed a simple song he could play on his guitar. That night, the song was performed for the first time in the Nikolaus-Kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Obendorf, Austria. The most beautiful version of the most beautiful song is this one by the Temptations - see what you think - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tHcgxeKQTI.  or  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xuah4e_temptations-silent-night-1982_music...

41) Charlie Is My Darlin' was written about Prince Charles Edward Stuart (aka Young Pretender/Bonnie Prince Charlie) who raised his Standard at Glenfinnan on 19th August, 1745 during the Jacobite Uprising - the fighting continued until his defeat at Culloden Moor on 16th April, 1746. This well-known song about those times is attributed to James Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd) & Carolina Oliphant (Lady Nairne). Another version of the song was written by Robert Burns as Charlie He's My Darling in 1794. Yet another version was written by Charles Gray in 1811. All of these versions owe their genesis to even earlier versions with each improving on the other...

42) The Skye Boat Song is another song about Prince Charles Edward Stuart, this time escaping to the Isle Of Skye after his defeat at the Battle Of Culloden in 1746. The tune was written in 1879 by Annie MacLeod-Wilson using, in part, songs collected by her to which she added additional music. The original words were written in 1884 by Sir Harold Boulton. In 1895 Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a variation of the lyrics as he was unhappy that an Englishman's set of words were being popularised for such a Scottish event...

43) O Waly Waly is a song of English/Scottish origin dating back to the 1600's. Early versions of the song varied considerably in their lyrics but had the same general melody. A key ancestor is the lyric Waly, Waly, Gin Love Be Bonny from Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany (1724) - the use of cockleshells and silver bells in the lyrics for Waly, Waly as printed in Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius (1725), pre-dates the earliest published Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (1744). The modern lyric for The Water Is Wide. a modern variant of Waly Waly, was consolidated and named by Cecil Sharp in 1906 - The Water Is Wide was popularized by Pete Seeger in the folk revival. The most recent chart version was recorded by The Forum as The River Is Wide in 1967 which reached No. 46 on the charts...

44) Rule, Britannia! originated as a poem by James Thompson and was set to music by Thomas Arne in 1740. The version by Albert Farrington was the earliest recorded version I could find (1914). This popular British national air was originally included in Alfred, a masque about Alfred the Great on 1 August 1740, to commemorate the accession of George II and the third birthday of the Princess Augusta...

45) Old MacDonald Had a Farm originated in the comic opera Wonders in the Sun or the Kingdom of the Birds, by Thomas D’Urfey, as ‘In the Fields of Frost and Snow’ [1706]. Sung in the U.S. as a minstrel song, it was published in Tommy’s Tunes [1917] as ‘Old MacDougall Had a Farm‘. ..

46) The facts behind the song "Frankie And Johnny" (aka "Frankie And Albert"): on October 16, 1899 the St. Louis Republic opens with the headline: "Negro Shot By Woman. Somewhere in the ‘sporting area‘ of town Frankie Baker shot her lover Allen or Albert Britt following a quarrel over another woman (Nellie Bly) who‘m he just won a dance contest with in Stolle‘s Dance Halls". It took a mere 24 hours for a Bill Dooley to make up a song from these facts (Frankie Killed Allen), selling it for 10 cents a piece in downtown St. Louis while performing it on street corners. The longer the story was kept alive in newspaper columns (another two days and Al Britt died of his wounds), the more popular his song. A full ten years after the fact this ballad still circulated and not only in St. Louis, for in 1909 father John A. Lomax collected two distinct versions in Texas. The oldest known publication of the melody was in 1904 under title He Done Me Wrong (The Death Of Bill Bailey). Under title Frankie And Johnny the song was first published in 1912 (music and words by The Leighton Bros. & Ren Shields). In 1927 more than 100 variations of this ballad circulated and that was even before the big recording break. In 1934, John A. & Alan Lomax counted some 300 published versions in their American Ballads And Folk Songs. These 300 variations begged for a doctorate‘s degree paper, finally written by Bruce Buckley who makes a clear distinction between the Frankie & Albert‘s following the St. Louis facts and the more popular fantasy variation Frankie & Johnny, published in 1912 with music by the Leighton Brothers, who went on to record a demo for Victor Records on 22 September, 1916 as "Frankie And Johnny". They re-recorded the song on 20 December, 1916 as "Frankie And Johnnie" & this was the version released by Victor - the flip-side was a variation: "He Done Me Wrong". ..

47) The song Misirlou became a surf classic thanks to the wonderful guitar work of Dick Dale. Misrlou means Woman From Misr, where Misr is Arabic for Egypt. Popular among the Greek enclave of Cairo, where the rebetiko style was born. Egyptian singer/actor Sayed Darwish cut it in 1919 as Bint Misr, which also means Egyptian Girl. There are also Armenian & Turkish variations. In Greece it was known as Mousourioum, where it was recorded in 1930 by Michalis Patrinos. In 1927 it was recorded as Misirlou by Greek tenor Tetos DimitriadisDick Dale learned the tune from an Armenian uncle. 

48) When recording El Condor Pasa, Simon & Garfunkel used the instrumental track recorded by Los Incas. Paul Simon heard Los Incas playing the song while they were on tour & decided to write English lyrics & record the song themselves. The original lyrics are in Quechua, the language of the ancient Inca. The tune was written by Daniel Alomar Robles (Peru) in 1917 and is based on a traditional Andes folk tune... 

49) Edgar Hayes was the first to record this song under the name "In The Mood" (in 1938) however this melody was originally called "Clarinet Getaway", first recorded by Jimmy O’Bryant’s Washboard Wonders in 1925. Glenn Miller recorded his hit version in 1939. The melody had undergone a number of transformations between Clarinet Getaway and In The Mood including Tar Paper Stomp - Wingy Manone & his Cats (1930); Hot And Anxious - Fletcher Henderson & his Orch. (1931) and There's Rhythm In Harlem - Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1935) each adding their own stamp to the song. However it took the wonderful harmonies & dynamic arrangement of Glenn Miller to make it the huge hit it was...

50) Certainly one of the most beautiful songs from The Platters is their lesser known "Where", based on Tschaikowsky‘s 6th Symphony - Pathetique. A few days after this symphony was premiered in 1893, Peter Tschaikowsky died.

51) The Lion Sleeps Tonight is one of the most popular songs to come out of Africa - it was written by Solomon Linda and first recorded by him in 1939. The origins of the song can be traced back to the 1920's when South African Zulu men started working in the bigger cities. Away from their families, they would group together in small choirs; singing and dancing. This style of singing eventually spread to Johannesburg in South Africa leading to Solomon Linda composing Mbube and recording it with his group, the Evening Birds, for Gallo Records. It has since been recorded by the Weavers (as Wimoweh), as well as the Tokens & Miriam Makemba (as The Lion Sleeps Tonight). In 1994, the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambozo recorded the song (as Mbube) and again with Manu Dibango (as The Lion Sleeps Tonight). In the South African Zulu language the word Mbube means "lion"...

52) "Free Nelson Mandela" is a song written by Jerry Dammers in 1984 - this song rang around the world and became the anthem for freedom for the man who was to become one of the 20th century's greatest leaders and the first President of the Republic of South Africa. It was with great sadness that the current President, Mr Jacob Zuma, announced the death of Mr. Mandela on 5th December, 2013. 

53) Strangely, the first recorded version of Click Go The Shears I can find is by Burl Ives, an American, who recorded it in 1953 although it has been sung by Australian shearers for over 100 years. It was first published in 1891 in the regional newspaper The Bacchus Marsh Express following the Shearers‘ Strike of 1890. It was again published in 1946 in an article by Percy Jones. Note: On 10 October 1892, Jack Howe, a 31 year old shearer, broke the world record for shearing 321 sheep using hand shears - it took just seven hours and forty minutes, The tally for 321 sheep shorn with blades will never be broken. Indeed, it will take fifty-eight years for Ted Reich, a shearer at the ‘Brinard’shed, near Julia Creek, to break the record. But then, Reich uses machine shears… 

54) John Beltzell was an American old time fiddler who recorded the Drunken Sailor Medley song as a "reel" in 1923. Before that the song, known as The Drunken Sailor (or What Shal We Do With A (The) Drunken Sailor) had been included in the repertoire for glee singing at Eton College, England as early as 1900. Classical Australian composer Percy Grainger incorporated the song into his piece "Scotch Strathspey And Reel" (1924) and British composer Malcolm Arnold used the melody in his "Three Shanties for Woodwind Quintet Op. 4 (1943). The first published description of the shanty (or chantie) comes from an 1839 whaling voyage out of New London, Connecticut to the Pacific Ocean where it was performed with very good effect "when there was a long line of men hauling together". There is evidence that the song dates back to the 1820's according to Eckstorm and Smyth's Minstrelsy Of Maine (1927)...

55) One theory about the Highland Fling is that it was a dance of triumph at the end of a battle. Another (no less romantic) theory is that it was performed before battles (like the sword dance), on top of the dancer's shield. The shield would have a spike in the middle, around which the dancer would do the dance that involves flicking of the feet, jumping and careful stepping supposedly to drive evil spirits away. It seems that forms of sword dancing were performed by warriors in many parts of Europe in the prehistoric period. Forms of sword dancing are also attested in the late Medieval period. Ritualistic and combative dances that imitated epic deeds and martial skills were a familiar feature in Scottish tradition and folklore. The earliest reference to these dances in Scotland is mentioned in the Scotichronicon which was compiled in Scotland by Walter Bower in the 1440s. The passage regards Alexander III and his second marriage to the French noblewoman Yolande de Dreux at Jedburgh on 14 October 1285. "At the head of this procession were the skilled musicians with many sorts of pipe music including the music of bagpipes, and behind them others splendidly performing a war-dance with intricate weaving in and out." At Highland games, the Highland dances were at first danced only by men. Women would take part in social dances, and girls did learn solo dances as part of their general dance classes. In fact, dancing masters would often encourage their most promising students (male or female) to perform solo dances at their end-of-term "assemblies". In the late 19th century a young woman named Lorna Mitchell decided to enter a Highland dance competition. As this was not expressly forbidden, she was allowed to enter. Since then the number of females participating in the sport has increased until today in excess of 95% of all dancers are female...

56) The usual tune for The Sailor's Hornpipe was first printed as the "College Hornpipe" in 1797 or 1798 by J. Dale of London. It was found in manuscript collections before then – for instance the fine syncopated version in the William Vickers manuscript, written on Tyneside, dated 1770. The dance imitates the life of a sailor and their duties aboard ship. Due to the small space that the dance required, and no need for a partner, the dance was popular on-board ship. Accompaniment may have been the music of a tin whistle or, from the 19th century, a squeezebox. Samuel Pepys referred to it in his diary as "The Jig of the Ship" and Captain Cook, who took a piper on at least one voyage, is noted to have ordered his men to dance the hornpipe in order to keep them in good health. The dance on-ship became less common when fiddlers ceased to be included in ships' crew members. In dramatic stage productions, from around the sixteenth century, a popular feature was a sea dance. But the nineteenth century saw the more familiar form of the "sailors’ hornpipe" introduced. Nautical duties (for example the hauling of ropes, rowing, climbing the rigging and saluting) provided the dance movements. The tune was played in the animated Popeye cartoons beginning in the 1930s, usually as the first part of the opening credits theme, which then segued into an instrumental of "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man"... 

57) Recording on glass cylinder in the 1840's, said to be Frederic Chopin himself playing the Minute Waltz. The cylinder was found buried in the garden of Hippolyte Sot, a friend of Chopin's. It has since been revealed as an elaborate hoax carried out by a music magazine. Even so, the recording was performed with great skill using recording techniques pioneered by Frenchman E.L. Scott in the 1860's, 20 years before Edison! Scott's recording was made by fastening a quill (some say a cactus needle) onto a horn and then allowing it to vibrate as it moved across paper (or glass) darkened with smoke from an oil lamp. The result was visible squiggles on the paper that corresponded to the vibrations of audio. Scott was successful in capturing voice recordings but had not perfected the technique to play them back so it was not until the late 20th Century that modern science was able to play them back, proving his success...

58) Plairir d'Amour was composed around 1760 by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian with Jean Paul Egide Martini (aka Johann Paul Aegidius Schwarzendorfer aka Martini il Tedesco). Based on Florian‘s poem La Celestine - the original title of the song was La Romance du Chevrier, later re-named Plaisir D‘Amour between 1890 and 1908. Elvis Presley was the first to record the song as Can‘t Help Falling In Love With You with lyrics re-written by George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore... 

59) The song The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi was written in 1911 by Byron D. Stokes, who wrote the lyrics to commemorate the 25th anniversary reunion of the Alpha Phi chapter of Sigma Chi at Albion College, Illinois. He shoved the lyrics in front of Dudleigh (Dud) Vernor who was practising the organ in the campus chapel. He soon had the music for the song and it was first performed by Harry H. Clifford at the college that same year...

60) The melody for this song had various titles and lyrics prior to becoming "Blue Moon." It was first written as "Prayer (Oh, Lord Make Me A Movie Star)" to be sung by Jean Harlow in Hollywood Revue—an unproduced 1933 film. Then it became "The Bad In Every Man," sung by Shirley Ross in the 1934 stage production/movie "Manhattan Melodrama". Because the Shirley Ross song was re-written before it became Blue Moon, I have not shown it as the original version of this song - that honour goes to a 1934 recording by Glen Gray & his Casa Loma Orch. with vocals by Kenny Sargent...

61) Abide With Me was written by Henry Francis Lyte, a Clergyman, in 1847. Soon after, Henry died from the effects of tuberculosis - this hymn was performed at his Memorial Service using the tune composed by Henry. In 1861 William Monk composed a song called Eventide and since that time Abide With Me has been sung to that tune. The first recorded version was by the Haydn Quartet in 1897... 

62) Soldier's Farewell is a German song entitled ‘Weh, Dab Wir Scheiden Mussen’ and has been attributed to the German poet and writer, Johanna Kinkel. There is no doubt that the words were penned by her, but it is thought by some that the words were in fact adapted to a traditional German folk tune but most versions of the sheet music tend to attribute both words and music to her...

The song was written somewhere around 1858, the year in fact that Kinkel died, but not translated into English until around 1875, which is where some of the facts and figures don’t tie up for me. It is claimed for instance that the song was popular during the American civil war, but the civil war took place between 1861 & 1865 therefore if the dates are correct, it was not actually translated until some ten years later. 

63) Annie Laurie is a Barbershop quartet song derived from a 17th century lyrical poem by William Douglas of Fingland who was in love with Annie Laurie, youngest daughter of Sir Robert Laurie, baronet of Maxerlton. The lyrics were adapted two centuries later by Lady John Scott (1810-1900) who rewrote the second verse and added a third one. In 1838 it was set to the melody of My Jo (John Anderson), also known as Lay Me Down And Dream. Favorite song among British soldiers during the Crimean War. The real Annie Laurie died in 1764 and was buried in Glencairn, Dumfriesshire...

64) Authorship of the song Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Te-Ay was disputed for some years. It was originally credited to Henry J.Sayers, who was the manager of the George Thatcher Minstrels; Sayers used the song in his 1891 production Tuxedo, a minstrel farce variety show in which "Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay" was sung by Mamie Gilroy. However, Sayers later stated that he had not written the song, but had heard it performed in the 1880s by a black singer, Mama Lou, in a well-known St. Louis brothel run by "Babe" Connors.

Stephen Cooney, Lottie Collins‘ husband, heard the song in Tuxedo, and he purchased the performance rights  from Sayers for Collins to perform the song in England. Collins worked up a dance routine around it, and, with new words by Richard Morton and a new arrangement by Angelo A. Asher, she debuted the song at the Tivoli Music Hall on The Strand in London in 1891 to an enthusiastic reception, and it became her signature tune. She performed it to great acclaim in the 1892 adaptation of Edmond Audran‘s opérette, Miss Helyett. According to reviews at the time, Collins delivered the suggestive verses with deceptive demureness, before launching into the lusty refrain and her celebrated "kick dance", a kind of cancan in which, according to one reviewer, "she turns, twists, contorts, revolutionizes, and disports her lithe and muscular figure into a hundred different poses, all bizarre".

The song was performed in France under the title ‘Tha-ma-ra-boum-di-hé‘, first by Mlle. Duclerc at Aux Ambassadeurs in 1891, but the following year as a major hit for Polaire at the Folies Bergère...

65) Lily Of Laguna was written in 1898 by English composer Leslie Stuart - it was first performed in Oxford in July 1898. Laguna of the original song was a village of Native American cave-dwellers somewhere "100 miles off the main line en route to California proceeding from New Orleans." Lily was a cave-dwelling Indian girl. Stuart wrote that "I wrote the words and music together to a large degree and, consequently, I was able to get effects that the canons of art lay down as being impossible... Instead of ending where, say, the average poet would compel me by the metre of his verse I, writing my own lyrics, add two bars more and get an entirely new effect". The verse section contain a dramatic mood shift of iii minor, to ii minor, to I Major. The arrangement has a oboe obligato play the tune of Lily's call to her flock on her shepherdess's pipe. The original song lyrics tell the story of a lonely black American man who falls in love with a woman from the Laguna tribe of Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. Every evening he waits to hear her call her sheep and cattle so that he can go to her unseen by her father. Laguna, is Spanish, meaning "lake", and derives from a now dry lake located on the tribes ancestral lands. The real indigenous name of the tribe is Kawaik...

66) God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen is an English traditional Christmas carol. It is in the Roxburghe Collection (iii. 452), and is listed as no. 394 in the Roud Folk Song Index. It is also known as Tidings of Comfort and Joy, and by variant incipits, as Come All You Worthy Gentlemen God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, God Rest Ye, Merry Christians or God Rest You Merry People All. This is one of the oldest extant carols, dated to the 16th century or earlier. The earliest known printed edition of the carol is in a broadsheet dated to c. 1760. The traditional English melody is in the minor mode; the earliest printed edition of the melody appears to be in a parody, in the 1829 Facetiae of William Hone. It had been traditional and associated with the carol since at least the mid-18th century, when it was recorded in a book by James Nares under the title "The Old Christmas Carol"...

67) Ding Dong, Merrily On High first appeared as a secular dance tune known under the title "Branle de l‘Official" in Orchésographie (1589), a French dance book written by Jehan Tabourot (1519–1593). The lyrics are from English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934), and the carol was first published in 1924 in his The Cambridge Carol-Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter, And Other Seasons...

68)The original song, titled Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn (translates to "To Me You‘re Beautiful") was written in Yiddish (a German/Hebrew dialect) by Sholom Secunda & Jacob Jacobs for a 1932 Stage Musical "I Would If I Could" (in Yiddish, Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht, "You could live, but they don‘t let you"). The play was performed for one season at the Parkway Theatre in Brooklyn, where it was performed by Aaron Lebedoff using the title Bei Mir Bistu Shein. In 1937, the Andrews Sisters manager, Lou Levy, heard a shoe-shine boy singing the song while he worked. He found out about the song and asked Sammy Cahn & Saul Chaplin to write English lyrics to the original Yiddish lyrics. - the tune was not altered at all although the song was given a boppier feel more suited to the Andrews Sisters style. The Andrews Sisters had a big hit with the song, now titled Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (Means That You‘re Grand) and the original writers of the song received just $30.00, their rights to the song having been sold just a week before... 

69) Gallarda (Gagliarda) Napolitana was composed by Antonio Valente (1520 - 1580) who was a blind church organist from Naples, Italy. This piece was later adapted by the Mariachi bands in Mexico (probably in the 1800‘s) to become a folk dance played at weddings: El Jarabe Veracruzano (The Wedding In Vera Cruz), later to be known as La Bamba...

70) Ngāti Porou leader Āpirana Ngata wrote this song in the 1920's to welcome surviving members of the Māori contingent home from the First World War, and also paid tribute to parliamentarian Wī Pere, who died in 1915.  Ngata popularised the action song (waiata-ā-ringa), and wrote many songs of this sort. He translated popular European songs of the time into te reo Māori, and also set original Māori words to well-known dance tunes. 

As Haere Mai, this song is usually performed by female members of the community to welcome visitors by appeasing dead spirits, thus allowing the visitors into the community... 

71) The song Ee-Bobaliba was written by Big Jim Wynn who had been playing it for some months but had not recorded it due to a shortage of shellac. Tina Dixon managed to beat him to the recording studio (1945) to get her version out (Ee-Ba-Ba-Lee-Ba) before Big Jim Wynn released his own version (in 1946). Helen Humes released her version of the song (E-Baba-Le-Ba) in 1945, just before Lionel Hampton recorded his hit version (Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop) in 1945...

72) The song Wenn Der Topf Aber Nun A Loch Hat was written in Germany in the 1740‘s as a children‘s song, first sung by Scherzlied aus Hessen. Known as a circular song (it finishes where it started), it was first recorded by Henry Fink in 1949 as Jug Has A Hole. The most famous version is by Harry Belefonte with Odetta as A Hole In The Bucket...

73) I think I've finally unravelled the story behind Louie Louie: in the early 50's Richard Berry worked as a piano player for a Los Angeles band called Ricky Rivera & the Rhythm Rockers, run by 2 Filipino brothers, Bobby & Barry Rillera. One of their songs was El Loco Cha Cha which used a different groove to the one used by Rene Touzet, who originally recorded the song in 1955 (without the groove) as Amarren El Loco. In 1957, Richard Berry incorporated the groove he had learned with the Rhythm Rockers into his song "Louie Louie", which is basically a Calypso type rhythm telling the story of a Jamaican sailor returning to the island to see his lady love... 

74) The song the Northern soldiers sang during the American Civil War, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, had its roots in the Irish folk song, Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye, which was first published in 1867, although it was reportedly sung by Irish soldiers returning from Ceylon (from 1837 - 1866) before that date. The melody for the song was previously published in July, 1863 under the title "Johnny Fill Up the Bowl" -- an American drinking song. The sheet music for this work credits a "J. Durnal" as the arranger of the music, but not its composer. The lyrics were copyrighted on September 26, 1863 under the name "Louis Lambert", which was a pseudonym used by Patrick Gilmore, who did the first recording in 1892 as an Instrumental...

 

 

 

 

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