DEAR JERRY: The oldies stations often play Jimmy Dean's “Big Bad John,” but one by him I never hear is the follow-up, a continuation of the Big John story. It seems he didn't die in the mine after all.
I am also wondering about other interesting follow-ups. Tell us about a few.
How about when someone had hits with two different versions of the same song, like Neil Sedaka's “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” or different songs of the same title, such as the Beatles' “Revolution”?
Gilbert Christopher, Elgin, Ill.
DEAR GILBERT: For you, as well as for Mike Levand, of Overland Park, Kansas, here goes:
There is much more of this brand of trivia, but here are some examples:
However certain it seemed that “Big Bad John” bought the farm when the mine collapsed, it took only two “red-hot kisses” from “The Cajun Queen” to resurrect him. “The Cajun Queen” (1962) reports the happy couple reside in New Orleans, along with 110 grandchildren. Still, this X-file adventure doesn't end there.
Completing this trilogy is “Little Bitty Big John” (1962), a silly story about the estranged son of John and Queenie.
For a more dramatic and realistic trilogy, consider Marty Robbins' “El Paso” (1959); its prequel, “Feleena (From El Paso)” (1966); and the sequel, “El Paso City” (1976).
Now for some examples of singers with two different songs using the same title. Not included are ones intended for multiple versions, such as Tommy Facenda's “High School U.S.A.” and Terry Cashman's “Talkin' Baseball,” and remixes where the original tracks are electronically modernized, as with Frankie Avalon's “Venus” and “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by the 4 Seasons:
Barbra Streisand waxed two dissimilar tunes titled “Funny Girl.” First came her superb 1964 single hit, originally intended for the Winter Garden (N.Y.)stage show, but not used. Then in 1968, a completely different “Funny Girl” became the title song of the film.
The Righteous Brothers' “Unchained Melody” first came out in 1965, then again in 1990 to tie-in with the movie “Ghost.” Both are the same take.
Meanwhile a newly-recorded “Unchained Melody” by them also hit the charts in 1990.
Amazingly, for one week in November, both Righteous recordings of “Unchained Melody” held chart positions in the nation's Top 20 a really rare accomplishment!
The Dave Clark Five hit the Top 15 with “Everybody Knows (I Still Love You)” in 1964, then came back in '67 with another “Everybody Knows,” a very different song.
Usually the originals are more successful than the remake, but here are three acts whose sales improved dramatically the second time around:
Tony Williams and the Platters released a primordial “Only You (And You Alone)” for Federal (1954) just a year before their stylish, chart-topping Mercury rendition.
The 2002 revival of Elvis Presley's “A Little Less Conversation” is a Rock classic worldwide, as well as the theme for TV's “Las Vegas.” Clearly it is far more recognizable than the original 1968 single.
In 1951, Tommy Edwards had a bit of success with “It's All in the Game,” yet his revamped 1958 version sold millions. Edwards did the same in 1959 with two more of his early '50s hits: “The Morning Side of the Mountain” (1951) and “Please Mr. Sun” (1952).
Rod Stewart kept pace with Tommy Edwards, with three tunes of his own that became hits twice, each a different recording than the original: “Reason to Believe” (1971 and 1993); “Twisting the Night Away” (1973 and 1987); and “Have I Told You Lately” (1992 and 1993).
Bobbie Gentry successfully rerecorded her summer '67 classic, “Ode to Billy Joe,” especially for the 1976 film of the same title.
Allan Sherman enjoyed such success in the summer of '63 with “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp)” that he returned a year later with another letter from Camp Granada, also titled “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp).”
In 1973, James Brown remade not one but two new versions of his 1958 hit “Think.”
Both James Brown and Bill Doggett released the same songs twice, as a vocal and also an instrumental.
Brown did so with first a vocal (1958) then an instrumental (1965) of “Try Me.”
The Doggett Combo's two-part instrumental “Honky Tonk” came first in 1956, followed later that year by their vocal rendering of “Honky Tonk Part 2.”
The Beatles had three “Revolution” songs, all in 1968. The first one recorded is the leisurely paced, doo-wopish “Revolution 1” on the White Album. Pressured by his bandmates, Lennon agreed to recut the same song as a rocker, which became the “Revolution” single. “Revolution 9” on the White Album is actually a Lennon/Ono sound collage whose only connnection to the others is that an unused fadeout from the slow version is used as part of the collage.
Sam Cooke did a similar thing with Gershwin's “Summertime,” waxing it up tempo in 1957 and as a ballad in '62.
IZ ZAT SO? Before signing off this week, here are a few more amusing follow-up titles:
In 1961 Betty James admitted “I'm a Little Mixed Up,” but after just one year (perhaps in therapy) she proudly announced “I'm Not Mixed Up Anymore!”
Following “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” (1966) the Royal Guardsmen wisely kept the famous beagle leashed, resulting in “The Return of the Red Baron” (1967); “Snoopy's Christmas” (1967); and “Snoopy for President” (1968).
Fronting the Heartbeats in 1956, Daddy Shep sang of being “A Thousand Miles Away.” It took five years, but in '61, thanks to Shep and the Limelites, we know “Daddy's Home” at last.
After “Louie Louie” (1963), Paul Revere and the Raiders returned a few months later with “Louie, Go Home.”
Finally, the Fontane Sisters continued their French connection after “Chanson D'amour” with “Encore D'Amour.” both from 1958.
As stated above, these are merely a few examples. Songs not mentioned here are not ones we have forgotten or don't know. Just ones that didn't make the word count cut.