You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.
There are some songs that have been so widely recorded or so associated with a single artist that we often forget who wrote them. I’ve generally always preferred the version by the writer of a song (notable exception: Maria Muldaur’s version of Bob Dylan’s Heart of Mine. I know there are people out there who prefer anyone’s version of Bob’s songs to his own, but that’s them).
Reason to Believe is one of those multi-recorded songs, so much so I won’t even bother to mention them all (or even some of them). You’ve heard several versions, no doubt. I’ll just play Tim Hardin’s.
A case of a song being strongly associated with a single artist is Everybody’s Talkin’. The film Midnight Cowboy made it such a successful single for Harry Nilsson that hardly anyone knows, apart from obsessives like me, that Fred Neil wrote it, and recorded a superior version on his album “The Dolphins.”
Jimmy Webb has written many songs that have been hugely successful for others, most notably Glenn Campbell. This is Jimmy ‘s wonderfully atmospheric version of Galveston.
Speaking of Glenn Campbell, he had a huge hit with Gentle on my Mind. This suited John Hartford very much as he could pretty much live off the royalties for the rest of his life, playing music when he felt like it, indulging his love of the Mississippi by becoming a riverboat pilot.
I saw him (only the) once in a club in Greenwich Village with The Dillards. At one stage, he brought out a sheet of five-ply that he proceeded to tap dance upon. He also sang and played the fiddle, the tap dancing supplying the bass line. Great entertainer.
John Stewart was more than skeptical when it was suggested his song Daydream Believer be recorded by the Monkees. He was actively opposed to the idea - the record company wanted to change some of the words - but reluctantly gave in. All that reluctance changed considerably when the royalty cheques started rolling in. “That Monkees’ version works really well” he said.