This Toronto born artist has been through quite a lot and you have to admire her perseverance. She actually got a boost from another Canadian musician, the late Jeff Healey. When I saw her perform some years ago, you could not help but think she was on her was to a very successful career. Elton John was a fan as he one announced on The Rosie Show. Things would go very wrong for her, this after a very positive start in 1995, with songs like the above clip that was written by Dean McTaggart and David Tyson, the latter co-wrote the 1991 smash #1 hit “Black Velvet” for Alannah Myles. So right off the bat I’m breaking my very loose rule of “no Billboard” hits, as she did (with the above song) enter the chart briefly in 1996, however you will understand why I am talking about her now.
She had a follow up album in 1999 with somewhat less success, as it was for her third album. In truth she was not getting the support she needed from her management. So she fired them. She was then embroiled in a legal battle with them and her record company and never made another album. So for the 12 years it took to settle, yes 12 years, we did not hear from her, not a single recording. That is until 2023, she has released Heavy Lifting and will embark on a Canada wide tour beginning June 11. The clip below is a new song that is a cover of Marsha Ambrosius’s 2010 release “Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)”. I truly wish her all the success that someone this talented deserves.
Matt is a singer/songwriter and a blues guitarist. This category alone makes it difficult these says to get much music chart exposure but that does not mean he has not had success. He was born in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, which is a town right on the Canada/US border with Maine. He had been a solo performer for some time and self released his first three albums. Since then he has produced 10 albums, most recently The Big Bottle of Joy just this year, and with a new band. I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform and he has an amazing voice and knows his was around a guitar.
While not unknown in the US, in fact in 2010 he won the Memphis, Tennessee, International Blues Challenge and he has toured in many states and Europe to very receptive audiences. He has won some awards in Canada and had one of his songs hit on the iTunes charts in Canada, but I could not find any other chart mentions. He is not widely known in Canada either, that is unless you are a fan of his style. If you happened to stumble upon him, he is not easily forgotten. As with many singer/songwriters he started out, as in the clip above, covering other’s songs, as he progressed and gained some success, he was able to introduce his own material and has been recording it for many years now. You can only appreciate this man’s talent by listening. Here he is with a live performance from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Leading up to Canada’s Birthday on July 1, I will be featuring songs from some of the perhaps lesser known talent in this great country of ours. Those outside of Canada know the big international stars like Celin Dion, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Alanis Morissette, Drake, Shania Twain, and…ok you get my point.
There are number of Canadian Artists that may have just a niche audience outside or perhaps just inside the country. There are performers that are big stars here at home but virtually unknown outside of the Country.
The one’s I will discuss have had no Billboard hit songs and little airplay outside of Canada. Now we know that there are many charts out there, so I didn’t check them all, and when it comes to predicting enduring songs and artists the Billboard Hot 100 isn’t necessarily all that. I think that Leonard Cohen is a name most will recognize but he only had one song that reached #59, ok it’s been covered once or twice but his catalog is pretty impressive. Joni Mitchell’s highest song reached #7 and she only charted another 8 songs, none of them top 10.
Who knows were fate will take these artists, how will history remember their works? We have many great talents, past and present that you likely have not heard of, so until the end of the month it’s all Canada all the time, eh.
As the series continues, there are some Italian song titles you may not recognize and have a tough time guessing the English version. I know I did, until I heard them, then the light went on! However, the most covered Italian song from the clip above is one of the most recognizable in the world. Of course some of the native singers are international superstars, not to mention the Italian-American traditional crooners such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Perry Como. There many stars like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jon Bon Jovi and Frank Zappa have Italian ancestry. My focus today as it has been, is on the most covered songs that have been translated into English.
“‘O sole mio” dates back to 1898. For many years it was credited to Eduardo Di Capua alone, however Alfredo Mazzucchi has been added as a composer. The lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro. It was first recorded by Ferruccio Corradetti in 1901. The covers in Italian, English and other languages, not to mention the instrumentals and songs that have used the melody give this tune a total of 470 versions. Perhaps because the original version is so compelling there have not been many literal translations in English. The most well known use of the melody comes from “There’s No Tomorrow” written by Al Hoffman, Leo Corday and Leon Carr. It was first recorded by Tony Martin in 1949 and it was a #2 smash hit. Somewhat surprisingly there are only 10 versions.
“It’s Now or Never” by Elvis Presley (with The Jordanaires) was inspired by the Tony Martin song (mentioned above) he heard while in Germany. Upon his request new lyrics were written by Wally Gold and Aaron Schroeder. Elvis released the song in 1960 and it was a Worldwide #1 hit song, becoming one of his best selling singles. It is this use of the melody that makes up the bulk of the cover song total.
“E lucevan le stelle” was written by Giacomo Puccini with lyrics by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. It is the next most covered song with 400 versions. It is from the Opera Tosca and was first performed in 1900 and the first recording was by the legendary Enrico Caruso in 1902. Interestingly this was not recorded again until the great Mario Lanza did it in 1951, there are 18 versions of the original song. The instrumental version of Puccini’s masterpiece known as “Avalon” was first recorded in 1920, since then this has been done some one hundred times, as has the English adaptation, also first recorded in 1920.
Based on Puccini’s “Avalon” a new composition was written by Italian-American Vincenzo Rose (Cacioppo). English lyrics to the Rose version were by B.G. DeSylva and Al Jolson and recorded by the latter in 1920. This is the popular tune we know today and there are about 80 versions to date.
“Ti guarderò nel cuore” was written and first performed in 1962 as an instrumental by Nino Oliviero and Riz Ortolani. It was the theme song for the Italian mondo (exploitive) style documentary, “Mondo Cane”. It was nominated for the Best Original Song at the 1963 Grammy Awards. By the second recorded version it most often came to be known by it’s English name “More”. Yet some used “The Theme from Mondo Cane”. Italian lyrics were added by Marcello Ciorciolini.
For the well known Pop music standard, the English lyrics were written by Norman Newell and it was first recorded by Steve Lawrence in 1963.
“Nel blu, dipinto di blu”, music was written by Domenico Modugno and his cowriter for the lyrics was Franco Migliacci. Domenico Modugno is also know for “Dio, come ti amo” and “Piove (Ciao ciao bambina)”. Modugno was the first to record his song in 1958 and it was a big international hit reaching #1 for five weeks and it was the Billboard Song of the Year in 1958 on The Top Singles Chart. Dean
Most of us recognize this song as “Volare”, first recorded by Dean Martin in 1958, this is the one that I remember the best. English lyrics were by Mitchell Parish. It was a hit for Martin, and it reached #15 one of the same weeks Modugno was at #1. The McGuire Sisters also charted that same year. Bobby Rydell also had a hit with it in 1960. There are recordings by dozens of some of the biggest names in music such as Ray Charles, Steve Lawrence, Ella Fitzgerald, Petula Clark and Barry White. There currently 341 documented versions.
“Odio l’estate, music by Bruno Martino and lyrics by Bruno Brighetti, the first release was by Martino himself in 1960 and just titled “Estate”. It is a song about love lost and the distain for the reminders of summers spent together. There are over 50 versions in the original Italian, and over 200 instrumentals of this remarkable composition. An English adaptation written by Arthur Altman and Al Stillman was recorded by Peggy Lee in 1966. Another version written by Joel Siegel was titled “Summer” but many recordings use the title “Estate”. The Siegel composition was first recorded by American Jazz singer Dee Bell in 1985 and since then there have been about 45 versions. All tolled there 340 variations.
“Mona Lisa” was written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston. Playing a minstrel, Sergio De Karlo sang part of the song in Italian in the movie Captain Carey, U.S.A. in 1949. It was not recorded again until 1961 by Roy Hamilton and there are only 10 versions. There are over 100 instrumentals of this song, the first was by Frank Culley and His Orchestra in 1950. The English translation by the same writers was first recorded by Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra in 1950.
“Fortunella – Titoli” composed by Nino Rota was first used in the 1958 Italian movie Fortunella but it is best know as the “Love Theme from The Godfather (Speak Softly Love)”. “Parla più piano (Speak Softly Love)” was written by Gianni Boncompagni and released in 1972 and there are about 30 versions. It was performed by Gianni Morandi.
The English lyrics were written by Larry Kusik and first recorded by the great Andy Williams in 1972. It quickly done by Al Martino, Johnny Mathis, Bobby Vinton and Vikki Carr but by the late 1970’s it seemed to go out of fashion and the covers thereafter are sparse with only a couple dozen more recordings.
As you have no doubt read of the passing of the legendary Tina Turner, there is much to learn about her life and music. I won’t repeat what others may write about, as I tend to do, the story today is about her music through the songs she has covered and those that have been recorded by other artists.
There are two distinct phases of her career, with Ike Turner and without. To focus on just the cover songs, the first of 27 original songs she recorded as Ike and Tina Turner was “A Fool in Love” written by Ike Turner and released in 1960. It still blows me away when I listen to this song, there are 13 versions making it their third most covered song. The second is “Nutbush City Limits” with 41 versions and then the iconic “River Deep – Mountain High” has 112 versions. Written by the Brill Building phenom writers Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector it was released in May of 1966.