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The Glory of Love original

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The Glory of Love original was a jazz standard

American songwriter, violinist and pianist Billy Hill wrote “The Glory of Love” in 1936. I’m most familiar with the song from 12-year-old Mayim Bialik’s performance in the 1988 film Beaches. I was surprised to learn that Bialik didn’t actually perform vocals, just the dance routine in her bright pink flapper dress. Melissa Garcia sang vocals. In 1951, a version by doo-wop group the Five Keys hit number one on the R&B charts for four non-consecutive weeks. However, back in 1936 Benny Goodman and his orchestra recorded “The Glory of Love” original, with vocals by Helen Ward.

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Note: this article looks at “The Glory of Love” jazz standard, not Peter Cetera’s 1986 soft-rock hit of the same name.

Don’t Leave Me This Way original

Don’t Leave Me This Way original & two covers

In the mid 70s, American songwriters Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert wrote “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. It’s a song about yearning and loss for a loved one who has left the relationship. The song is gender neutral – the object of desire is simply addressed as “baby”. This worked out well seeing male, female, straight and gay artists performed “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. English duo the Communards released a Hi-NRG version that was the UK’s biggest selling single of 1986. Up and coming Motown artist Thelma Houston released a disco version in 1977 which was also a number one hit. However, in 1975 Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes recorded the “Don’t Leave Me This Way” original with vocals by Teddy Pendergrass.

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Video Killed the Radio Star original

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Origins of the Video Killed the Radio Star original version

At 12:01am on 1 of August 1981, “Video Killed the Radio Star” became the first music clip aired on MTV. Although English new wave band the Buggles released the song in 1979, the song became an anthem of the 1980s. However, former Buggles member, Bruce Woolley, with his new band, the Camera Club, recorded the “Video Killed the Radio Star” original.

Shivers original

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The irony of the Shivers original

Written by Roland S Howard in 1978 at the age of just 16, “Shivers” is one of the most popular cult hits in Australian music. In fact, it’s my favourite Australian song. Many consider “Shivers” the reason for the Boys Next Door/Birthday Party and Nick Cave’s success. The “Shivers” original, performed by Howard’s band the Young Charlatans, appears to have an entirely different meaning behind the song. In later years, both Howard and Cave distanced themselves from the song. But there’s no doubt that “Shivers” is an enduring underground masterpiece about the adolescent pain of being in love.

The Air That I Breathe Original

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The Air That I Breathe originally written in LA

In 1972 songwriting duo Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood wrote “The Air That I Breathe” shortly after they moved to Los Angeles. The song’s protagonist doesn’t need anything besides the love of his girlfriend. Hammond recorded the “Air That I Breathe” original on his 1972 album It Never Rains in Southern California. In 1974 the song became a major hit for English rock group The Hollies.

Wind Beneath My Wings Original

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A Wind Beneath My Wings original from Kamahl

American songwriters Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley penned “Wind Beneath My Wings” in 1982. In 2002, this was apparently the most-played song at British funerals, and even in 2019 ranked in the top 10 funeral songs. “Wind Beneath My Wings” is Bette Midler’s signature song. But did you ever know that the “Wind Beneath My Wings” original was recorded by none other than our very own Kamahl?

Spooky Original

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The Spooky original was an instrumental

Thanks to Guy Richie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I discovered the groovy song “Spooky” by Dusty Springfield. Written by Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks Jr, Springfield’s “Spooky” came out in 1970. American band, Classics IV, performed another well-known version of “Spooky” in 1967. However, the “Spooky” original was a saxophone instrumental performed by Shapiro, as Mike Sharpe, released earlier that year.

Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone Original

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Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone Originally About a Bad Dad

Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” in 1971. In the words of Stereogum editor, Tom Breihan, “It’s a song about a piece of shit.” The song is a conversation, sung in alternating lines by siblings asking their mother about their dead father. He wasn’t a great man. Motown recording act the Undisputed Truth released the “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” original in May 1973. The Temptation’s more well-known version came out four months later. However, the song is more about its writer, Whitfield, than either of those bands. His psychedelic soul classic was the forerunner to the extended single and to disco and house music.

Gloria Original

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A Gloria Original in Italian

In the 1970s, Italian musicians Umberto Tozzi and Giancarlo Bigazzi wrote a love song called “Gloria”. In 1979, Tozzi recorded the original version of “Gloria”, a song where the protagonist longs for a woman named Gloria. A few years later, New Yorker Laura Branigan recorded an English cover. Unlike the “Gloria” original, Branigan addresses Gloria, who’s all messed up over some guy, directly. Tozzi’s version was very popular, especially in Europe. But Branigan’s 1982 single sold over two million copies in the United States alone.

Achy Breaky Heart Original

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Origins of the Achy Breaky Heart Original

In 1990, amateur songwriter Don Von Tress, from Cypress Inn, Tennessee, penned a ditty by the name of “Achy Breaky Heart”. Von Tress wrote the song in the famed Nashville recording studio, the Music Mill. He claimed he was “just fooling around on the guitar and a drum machine.” “Achy Breaky Heart” launched Kentuckian Billy Ray Cyrus’s music career and made line dancing go mainstream. However, it was country music trio the Marcy Brothers who recorded the “Achy Breaky Heart” original. And their version had even more twang.

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