Home > The Originals > The Originals Vol. 24

The Originals Vol. 24

We have a bit of a bumper edition here, with ten quite distinct and all lovely versions of Let It Be Me, four of City Of New Orleans, plus It Must Be Love, My Baby Just Cares For Me and Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town. Special thanks to our old friend RH and our new friend Walter for their contributions. I would be interested to know which version of Let It Be Me is the most liked.

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Labi Siffre – It Must Be Love.mp3
Madness – It Must Be Love.mp3

siffre_it_must_be_lovePerhaps I’m stretching the concept of this series a little here; some may well say that they know the Labi Siffre original better than the remake. Still, it is the 1981 Madness cover that was the bigger hit and gets the wider airplay. In my view, their version is better than Siffre’s, though I fully expect to receive dissenting comment calling into question the intactness of my mental faculties (or, indeed, refer to my complete madness). Madness reached the UK #4 with the song; in 1971, Siffre (one of the first openly gay singers in pop) reached #14 with it. Rather endearingly, Siffre made a cameo appearance in the video for the Madness single (he is a violin player).

Siffre periodically retired from the music industry. He most propitiously returned in 1987 when he released his anti-apartheid song Something Inside (So Strong), which has been frequently covered, and then proceeded to co-write most of Jonathan Butler’s fine 1990 album Heal Our Land, which in part was a love letter to South Africa at a time when it had become clear that apartheid was dead.

Also recorded by: Marian Montgomery (1972), Lyn Paul (1975), Jasper Steverlinck (2004), Jeroen van der Boom (2006), Paolo Nutini (2007)

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Mel Tillis – Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love To Town) (1967).mp3
Waylon Jennings – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (1967).mp3
Kenny Rogers & First Edition – Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town.mp3

Mel Tillis – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (1976).mp3

tillisA Korean war veteran comes home from doing his “patriotic chore” without his legs and his beloved wife treats him like dirt and goes cheating on him. Much as it may sound like a country music cliché, songwriter Mel Tillis, who released the song in January 1967, said he based the lyrics on a couple in his neighbourhood, with the man having been wounded in Germany in Word War 2, not in Korea. Tillis spared us the bitter end of the story: The ex-GI killed his straying wife and then himself. Though the protagonist of the song imagines putting Ruby into the ground, he has no concrete plans to kill her.

EDIT: Tillis was the first to release the song, but Waylon Jennings actually recorded it three months before Tillis did, in September 1966. Jennings’ version, however, did not get released until August 1967.

The song had been recorded a couple of times before Kenny Rogers decided it would serve to move his group, the First Edition, closer to the country scene. He and the group recorded the song in one take. It became a hit in 1969 (at the height of the Vietnam War), reaching #6 in the US and #2 in the UK. For Rogers it became a signature tune which he would record twice more, in 1977 and 1990. Apparently Rogers likes to send the song up in concerts; it seems to have become a bit of a gag, with the not very humorous Right Said Fred honouring it with a cover version. Personally, I fail to see the capricious angle.

And thanks to commenter Phillip:
Walter Brennan – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.mp3 (direct DL via AprilWinchell.com)

Also recorded by: Johnny Darrell (1967), The Statler Brothers (1967), Red Sovine (1969), Dale Hawkins (1969), Peter Law & The New Pacific (1969), Leonard Nimoy (1970),  Carl Perkins (1974), Gary Holton & Casino Steel (1980), Sort Sol (1985), The Gorehounds (as Ruby, 1989), Right Said Fred (1996), Cake (2005), The Killers (2007) a.o.

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Steve Goodman – City Of New Orleans.mp3
Arlo Guthrie – City Of New Orleans.mp3
Johnny Cash – City Of New Orleans.mp3

Willie Nelson – City Of New Orleans.mp3

steve_goodmanThroughout this series there have been songs that in their original form were far superior to the versions that made them famous. Great though Guthrie’s version (and Willie Nelson’s) is, City Of New Orleans is one such song. Goodman wrote it after travelling on the eponymous train which was about to be decommissioned, recording faithfully what he saw. The song helped to reprieve the line. Having been discovered by Kris Kristofferson, who introduced him to Paul Anka, Goodman recorded the song in 1971. One night in a Chicago bar he approached Arlo Guthrie with a view to introducing the song to Woody’s son. Arlo was not really interested in hearing another songwriter trying to peddle a song, but on condition that Goodman buy him a beer, he mustered some patience. Later he would recall it as “one of the longest, most enjoyable beers I ever had”. The meeting would provide him with his biggest hit, released in 1972. Johnny Cash, no stranger to the subject matter of trains, released his take in 1973.

arlo_guthrieGuthrie changed some of the lyrics: Goodman’s “passing towns” became “passing trains”, the “magic carpet made of steam” was now made of steel, “the rhythm of the rails is all they dream” was now felt. Goodman didn’t seem to mind; he and Guthrie remained good friends until the former’s premature death at 36 in 1984 from leukaemia, the disease he had been diagnosed with in 1969. He won a posthumous Grammy for the song on strength of Willie Nelson’s 1984 version. Read the quite dramatic story of The City of New Orleans train here, and more about Steve Goodman here.

Also recorded by: John Denver (1971), Chet Atkins (1973), The Seldom Scene (1973), Joe Dassin (as Salut les amoureux, 1973), Sammi Smith (1973), Hank Snow (1973), Johnny Cash & June Carter (1973), Henson Cargill (1973), Ted Egan (1973), Hopeton Lewis (1973), Jerry Reed (1974), Johnny Cash (1975), Judy Collins (1975), Rudi Carrell (as Wann wird’s mal wieder richtig Sommer, 1975), Yoram Gaon (as Shalom Lach Eretz Nehederet, 1977), Louise Féron & Jérôme Soligny (as Salut les amoureux, 1993), Randy Scruggs (1998), Maarten Cox (as ‘t Is weer voorbij, die mooie zomer, 2005), Beth Kinderman (2006), Discharger (2006), Lizzie West & the White Buffalo (2006), Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (2007) a.o.

* * *

Ted Weems & his Orchestra – My Baby Just Cares For Me.mp3
Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me.mp3

weemsWritten by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn for the 1928 musical Whoopee (not to be confused with the rubbish actress going by a similar name), My Baby Just Cares For Me was recorded by a host of artists in the following few years. Ted Weems’ was not the first, but certainly among the earliest recordings. His take shows just how great an interpreter of songs Nina Simone was. She recorded it in 1958. It was not her most famous number, much less her signature tune, really becoming well-known when it featured in a British TV commercial for Chanel No. 5.

The bandleader Ted Weems was a star by the time he released his version of My Baby Just Cares For Me in July 1930, having had previous hits with Somebody Stole My Gal (1924), Piccolo Pete, and The Man from the South (1928), and later with Heartaches, which he recorded in 1933. At around that time he became even more famous thanks to a regular spot on Jack Benny’s hugely popular radio show. His band broke up with World War 2, and was reformed briefly in the early ’50s. Weems toured until 1953 when he became a DJ in Memphis and then a hotel manager. Weems died in 1963 at the age of 62. Take a look at this great video of Weems and a chorus line of flappers.

Also recorded by: Ethel Shutta (1930), Ted Fiorito & his Orchestra (1930), Mel Tormé (1947), Nat ‘King’ Cole (1949), The Hi-Lo’s (1954), Tony Bennett (1955), Somethin’ Smith and the Redheads (1955), Tommy Dorsey (1958), Tab Hunter (1958), Mary Wells (1965), Frank Sinatra (1966), Cornell Campbell (1973), Alex Chilton (1994), George Michael (1999), Julie Budd (2000), Natalie Cole (2002), Cyndi Lauper (2003), Laura Fedele (2005), Jaqui Naylor (2006), Amanda Lear (2006) a.o.

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Gilbert Bécaud – Je t’appartiens (1955).mp3
Jill Corey
– Let It Be Me (1957)
Everly Brothers – Let It Be Me (1960)
Betty Everett & Jerry Butler – Let It Be Me (1964)
Skeeter Davis & Bobby Bare – Let It Be Me (1965)
Peaches & Herb – Let It Be Me (ca 1967)
Glen Campbell & Bobbie Gentry – Let It Be Me (1968)
Bob Dylan – Let It Be Me (1970)
Roberta Flack – Let It Be Me (1970)
Rosie Thomas – Let It Be Me (2005)
All nine cover versions in one file here

becaud-jappertiensLet It Be Me is one of those pop standards that cannot be ascribed to any one particular artist. Most commonly, it might be considered an Everly Brothers song. To me, it is Betty Everett & Jerry Butler’s song; perhaps the most gorgeous version. Some may have heard it for the first time in its vulnerable interpretation by the wonderful Rosie Thomas, duetting with Ed Hardcourt. Not many will think of it as a French song, co-written and first released by the brilliant Gilbert Bécaud as Je t’appartiens (I belong to you) in 1955.

It was not the biggest hit for Bécaud (born François Silly), but it has been prodigiously covered. It took two years to cross the Atlantic, when Jill Corey – the youngest singer ever to headline at the Copacabana — recorded the first English-translation version. It was not a big hit, barely scratching the Top 60. It did become a hit with the Everly Brothers’ in 1960, their first recording made outside Nashville — it was made in New York — and their first to incorporate strings in the arrangement. Let It Be Me became a hit again in 1964 for Butler & Everett, in 1969 for Glenn Campbell & Bobby Gentry, and in 1982 for Willie Nelson. Bob Dylan recorded it twice; featured here is the first of these, which appeared on his 1970’s Self Portrait album. The same year Roberta Flack gave the song a whole new treatment on her second album. I am also partial to the version by the delightfully named Skeeter Davis with outlaw country pioneer Bobby Bare, which includes aspoken bit by Skeeter, as was her wont.

Also recorded by: The Blue Diamonds (1960), Chet Atkins (1961), The Lettermen (1962), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1962), Andy Williams & Claudine Longet (1964), Sonny & Cher (1965), Brenda Lee (1965), Molly Bee (1965), The Shadows (1965), Barbara Lewis (1966), The Escorts (1966), Nancy Sinatra (1966), Arthur Prysock (1966), Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown (1967), The Sweet Inspirations (1967), Sam & Dave (1967), Claudine Longet (1968), Earl Grant (1968), Petula Clark (1969), The Delfonics (1969), Jim Ed Brown (1969), Tom Jones (1969), Connie Smith & Nat Stuckey (1969), Roberta Flack (1970), Elvis Presley (1970), Bob Dylan (1970), Nancy Wilson (1971), New Trolls (1973), The Pointer Sisters (1974), Demis Roussos (1974), Nina Simone (1974), Mary McCaslin (1974), Melanie (1978), Kenny Rogers & Dottie West (1979),Jay & the Americans (1980), Bob Dylan (again, 1981), Willie Nelson (1982), David Hasselhoff (1984), Collin Raye (1992), Marc Jordan (1999), Nnenna Freelon feat Kirk Whalum (2000), Justin (2000), Lauro Nyro (2001), Anne Murray & Vince Gill (2002), Mike Andersen (2003), The Willy DeVille Acoustic Trio ( 2003), Paul Weller (2004),Pajo (2006), Frankie Valli (2007), Charlie Daniels Band with Brenda Lee (2007), Roch Voisine (2008), Jason Donovan (2008) a.o.

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  1. May 8th, 2009 at 12:35 | #1

    And don’t forget Walter Brennan’s cover of Ruby:
    http://www.hostropolis.com/april/mp3/brennan_ruby.mp3

    via AprilWinchell.com

  2. May 8th, 2009 at 15:33 | #2

    Poor Ruby, give her a break I reckon. Lady Chatterley got away with it…

    I love the City of New Orleans — always liked that song. Shame about his illness and death.

  3. May 8th, 2009 at 16:14 | #3

    “Let it be me”

    Dude, this is beautiful!!

    I was choking back tears! What a wonderful selection.

    Something lacking in the French version. There’s a chord that’s been changed slightly in subsequent versions? or is it just the rhythm? It’s overdone, too: a bit lacking in heart.

    The Jill Corey version is magic. It makes the Everly brothers sound like they’re half asleep. So simple and direct; warm; a strong woman’s vulnerability. I like this a lot.

    Betty Everett and Jerry Butler is very nice, Jerry Butler is funky singer! He has a great soul-singer’s warble!

    Skeeter Davis and Bobby Bare: not bad, nice naive arrangement. I love the organ in the background. That spoken part is special — oh for the innocent days when you could get away with a bit like that.

    Peaches and Herb is not bad. A bit trapped in Bacharach’s shadow, though.

    Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry — well, it’s smooth, it’s velvety smooth.

    Oh, Bob Dylan, I love that guy. I love this version. I love that album. It isn’t smooth, but it’s got a ton of heart.

    Roberta Flack. What happened to her, why did she never make a comeback? She’s amazing: this is not her most brilliant interpretation — but she does something special and real and very original with it, which none of the others could do. She’s a talent, Dude. This version is going to grow on me in a big way, I can feel it.

    Rosie Thomas. OK, this isn’t bad. She’s trying to do something new, but she just doesn’t know what! It’s very pretty though, and it has some heart.

    It’s interesting how only Roberta Flack and Bob Dylan could really win mastery over this song. Every one else is more or less following Jill Corey’s interpretation.

    At first listen: I love the Jill Corey version the best.

    By next month? I think it will be Roberta Flack.

    Betty Everett and Jerry Butler are pretty close behind, though. (and Bob Dylan, why not?!)

    Fascinating how each version gets a little slower than the one before.

    Thanks, Dude, that was really really nice!

  4. May 9th, 2009 at 20:25 | #4

    I heard “let it be me” many times growin up, it seems it was my parents “song” for many years. I am happy to have so many diverse versions of it. Though I’m prone to the Rosie Thomas version because of it’s modern lo-fi sound that I enjoy so much in new artists and their take on older songs. The Everly Brothers version is the one that my parents placed in their heads as the one they listened to so often, but living in a small mining town in Arizona and radio the way it was/is, I’m sure now that the one they danced most to was almost suredly the Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell, which sounded oddly familiar when I just played it. Thanks for these – a great classic that my mom thinks should be used as a test on American Idol, for each contestant to do their own arrangement.

    I’ve always loved Ruby since my first Kenny Rogers cassette. I also enjoy much the new Cake and Killers covers. Quite fun.

  5. richard43
    May 29th, 2009 at 23:09 | #5

    Great post. Definitly stirred memories (or what passes for memories these days….) Thanks.

  6. July 9th, 2009 at 21:51 | #6

    Bobby Womack also covered Ruby, though for some reason he changed the title to ‘Ruby Dean’.

  7. Phil
    July 14th, 2009 at 19:35 | #7

    Hi

    This is not a request for a posting, simply please can you send the labi siffre ‘it must be love’ image to my e-mail address.

    It is my first wedding anniversary next week and I want to print the cover and place next to a picture of us dancing to the first dance —

    First wedding anniversaries are all related to paper you see.

    If you can help that would be great

    Thanks

  8. November 3rd, 2009 at 21:40 | #8

    Picker Jerry Reed did a fine up-tempo version of “Ruby” too.

  9. Harold Hickenlooper
    March 10th, 2011 at 18:29 | #9

    HELP!!!
    UPLOAD AGAIN PLEASE!!!
    Hello, could you please re-upload all your different versions of “Let It Be Me”? I’ve been married five times and that beautiful song was played at each of my weddings. I want to send all your versions of “Let It Be Me” to each of my ex-wives.
    Thank you kindly in advance!
    Mr. Harry Hickenlooper

  10. halfhearteddude
    March 11th, 2011 at 00:02 | #10

    Well, Harold, there are enough versions for the next batch of weddings:
    http://www.4shared.com/file/eCNHsQ5C/Let_It_Be_Me_-_9_versions.html

  11. Rick
    June 20th, 2011 at 02:53 | #11

    As a collector of originals, i must dissagree a bit on “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”. All My reasearch indicates that Waylon Jennings was the first to record it, based on info from the originals project website, Praguefranks Country Music Discographys session discography listings, album credits, and Bear Family Records liner notes, Tillis’ recording was done on December 9, 1966 Jennings’ recording was done on September 8, 1966, Jennings’ original can be found on the album “Love Of The Common People” realeased in early 1967, Cheers Rick

  12. halfhearteddude
    June 20th, 2011 at 07:31 | #12

    Thanks for the research, Rick. I didn’t know Jennings recorded his version first.

    The decisive element in determining an original, in this series, is release date (that’s why I included the Flying Burrito Brothers’ version of “Wild Horses”). Tillis’ “Life Turned Her That Way” album, which includes “Ruby…” was released in January 1967; Jennings’ “Love Of The Common People” LP came out in August 1967. So, depending on how one measures an original, we might both be correct.

    Wikipedia, that unfailing source of meticulious research, claims Johnny Darrell was the first to record it — in 1967!

  13. Rick
    June 20th, 2011 at 12:15 | #13

    Ah, that explains, why we but heads a little on this series, I always go by the actual recording date, and btw, the Flying Burrito Brothers actually did record Wild Horses before the Stones, Cheers

  14. Kevin Killion
    May 27th, 2017 at 18:30 | #14

    To a Chicagoan’s ear, the only worthwhile version of City of New Orleans is that of the beloved Steve Goodman. The tell in Arlo’s version is his pronunciation of “Kankakee” as “cankakee”. An Illinoisan says, “kangkakee”.

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