DEAR JERRY: I have read your columns regarding cover versions, remakes, and rerecordings; however, I have a question that has not yet been asked.
How would you define an original recording that is not released until AFTER someone else has a hit with it, yet issued within the same time frame for fair competition to qualify it as a cover?
One good example is “Let's Live for Today.” This song was originally recorded in 1966 in Italy, by the Rokes. That version is sung in Italian and titled “Piangi con Me,” meaning “Cry with Me.”
From its Italian origin, the song was remade that same year in other languages, including English “Be Mine Again,” by the Dutch group, Skope.
The Rokes intended for “Let's Live for Today” to be released in the UK, but it got delayed in favor of a version by the Living Daylights. It is the Living Daylights version that is covered in the USA by the Grass Roots.
Because of the success of the Grass Roots tune, the Rokes version finally came out in the UK. Within a week of the Grass Roots debut in the US, the Rokes version also comes out stateside, as does the recording by the Living Daylights. Unfortunately for them, the Rokes fail to gain any attention despite a favorable review in Billboard.
Billboard and Cash Box both carried ads for the Living Daylights, claiming it to be “The Original Hit English Version.”
By definition, the Rokes version would technically be a cover of itself. It might also qualify as a remake of its original Italian self.
Or, since it wasn't released until after the Living Daylights record, could it possibly be considered a cover of the Living Daylights song?
Fred Clemens, Summit, N.J.
DEAR FRED: I can see how one's chosen music hobby could be limited to just collecting all the versions of “Let's Live for Today.”
By definition, there can only be one original release, with the country of issue and the language being details for sub-categories such as US original, or English original.
Likewise, a cover does not have to be issued in either the same language or the same country as the original.
Thus, the original of “Let's Live for Today” is clearly by the Rokes. Other renditions issued in 1966 and '67 are covers.
The one record that seems to gum up the wax works is the English version by Rokes, but by the time it came out, Skope already laid claim to the English original. The Grass Roots are then credited with the US original.
Considering the uniqueness of “Let's Live for Today,” I would describe as unnecessary any further analysis or attempt to pin labels on these releases.
DEAR JERRY: As a longtime fan of Sonny James, I shared your curiosity as to the identity the female singer on Sonny's recording of “Are You Mine.”
Especially intriguing is reading Sonny's letter to you wherein he admits he does not remember the lady's name.
In checking Capitol's discography, I see that “Are You Mine” is number 3962, and that 3968 is by Molly Bee. Any chance Molly Bee is the mystery singer?
Suzanne Buckman, Cypress Gardens, Fla.
DEAR SUZANNE: No, there is no chance our mystery girl is Molly. If she were someone as well known as Molly Bee, Sonny would have probably remembered her.
Great news, though. We have recently learned that Sonny's secret singing companion on “Are You Mine” is Darla Daret.
Having stumped virtually everyone on earth for nearly half a century, the truth came in the form of the six-CD boxed set, “Sonny James: Young Love The Complete Recordings 1952 - 1962” (Bear Family BCD-16373). Their exhaustive research of Capitol's master files and session notes, much of which is published in a book included with the boxed set, reveal Darla Daret to be the sweet voice heard on “Are You Mine.”
There is at least one solo recording by Darla Daret, who no doubt worked mostly as a session vocalist. In 1957, she had a single release of “Don'tcha Wanna” (Silver 2001). On this track, Darla is backed by the Johnny Mann Orchestra.
IZ ZAT SO? Amazingly, in early 1957, America had back-to-back instances of both the original AND a cover version reaching No. 1 (depending on which charts you're using).
Sonny James and then Tab Hunter hit No. 1 with ”Young Love,“ then both Charlie Gracie and Andy Williams did likewise with ”Butterfly.“
This twice-in-one-year musical phenomenon will not likely occur again.