Neglected Originals

TeenSpirit In our most recent episode, The Tux Age, Merlin sings a few bars of “Since You’ve Been Goin’ Goin’ Gone (to Indiana),” a 1921 Perlstein/Barreford gem. Today the average cretinous 15 year-old would recognize that same tune as Kelly Clarkson’s most famous hit single.

Fact: because there are only 12 tones in Western music, there are only 47 possible songs. Every pop song written today, from the melody to the rhythm to the lyrics, is merely a note-for-note cover version of one of those 47 original tunes written between 1919 and 1922.

What’s more, the original recordings of all of those songs are kept in the 3rd sub-basement of the Brill Building in New York City.

And Adam knows the night watchman.

So, in the comments to this post, suggest a well-known pop song whose original version you would love to hear. We’ll pick one of your suggestions and try to dig up that recording for you.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Archive Request

If it’s not too much trouble, dear sirs, I would very much like to hear the original recording of Since you’ve been gone by Rainbow.

I first became aware of a 1921 original when some crafty freeze-framing revealed it to be listed on the jukebox in the old-time club depicted in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker.

I would be most grateful if you could unearth this song for me, since I’ve had no luck on iTunes Music Store.

Kind Regards,


Billy Jean

By Michael Jackson.

Oh, man.

You laugh, but I've covered Russ Ballard's "Since You Been Gone" (terribly) in two different bands.

As regards this project, I think your choice is excellent.

Not sure.

I will admit the first thing that popped into my head was low…. but I’m sure there must be something better. I would really love to know if they used the term “Shorties” in songs back then though. Also, just in case any of you radiohead fans missed it….

It’s old but still funny to me everytime I hear it.

Not all of them...

I can say without a shadow of a doubt, the collected works of New Wave band DEVO find their roots in the neglected Appalachian Bluegrass music of The Mutant Mountain Boys, a long forgotten quartet of mine workers that recorded a number of long lost acetates. Some of their recordings have been dug up recently, and it’s amazing to hear them.

Back That As$ Up, by Juvenile

I’d really like to hear the original version of Juvenile’s 1999 ode to women’s darie aire’s, titled “Back That Ass Up”

You can see/hear it here: You can hear/see Juvenile’s song here:

The song is clearly a cry for help, in which he confesses his insatiable appetite for performing carnal acts upon the aforementioned fleshy body parts. While I’m sure this topic isn’t very familiar to most YLNT listeners, due to the fact that we’re all weird internet people, velcro’d to office chairs, listening to Radiohead all day while we conjure up clever ways to fit insightful, ironic, humorous anecdotes into 140 character messages… I’m thinking Sammich, Merlin, and Adam might be able to relate, being that they’re the Interweb Equivalent of Shaft.

In my limited capacity (as a chair-velcro’d internet monkey) I’ve already dome some preliminary research into the history of the song, which I’m sure the YLNT guys won’t need since their collective minds rival the power of Wikipedia. From what I can tell, Juvenile claims he was inspired by the Jackson 5 song, “I Want You Back” – which was sampled in his song. I also learned that another artist, who is conspicuously named “Jubilee” also had a song with a similar name, “Back That Ass Up”. Apparently Jubilee sued Juvenile for copyright violations, in which he alleged that Juvenile copied his own similarly named song. Juvenile claimed that the song was based on the Jackson 5 song, and any similarities to Jubilee’s song (title, chorus, lyrics) were coincidental (and somehow the jury bought it). Plenty of people assumed that Jubilee was only upset because Juvenile’s song “blew up” (music biz speak for “wildly successful”). Poor Jubillee. This really touches your heart, doesn’t it?

Getting back to the geneaology of the song: Clearly Juvenile was inspired by Jubilee’s song, but this time Juvenile toned down the Jackson 5 samples a bit, which appeased his lawyers because he was sued for copyright violation by the Jacksons. I’m having a hard time tracing the song back further than the Jackson 5 – but for some reason my search keeps bringing me back to Ethel Merman, as I try to discover Michael Jackson’s inspiration. Hopefully the YLNT folks can figure this one out.

I’d LOVE to hear a 1920’s version of this song, “Back That Ass Up” by Juvenile. Plus, I’m sure the world would be eternally grateful if you were able to trace the roots of this song back to the 1920’s – it could finally cast aside all the controversy over this enriching, beautiful song.

Good luck, guys.

You can hear/see Juvenile’s song here:

You can hear/see Jubilee’s song here:

And you can catch the Jackson 5’s song here:


Thanks for a GREAT show!

— Jackson

My humps

Can there BE any other choice?

Wait. “Suck my Kiss” might work.


Less comedic, more pandering

Because I know hotdogsladies loves them and I think a 20’s rendition of Superchunk’s Precision Auto would actually be quite enjoyable, I’ll make that my suggestion.

Nobody else will care, but I’m secure in my early 90s hipness.

Lets make it fun...

I would like to request Sir Mix Alot’s “Baby Got Back” and/or Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody….


I like the BGB idea…


I think BR would be well worth digging up, too.

Step By Step

Step By Step by New Kids on the Block. Seriously. Check out the lyrics, they’d be perfect for a wholesome re-doing.

I second Superchunk

I second Superchunk “Precision Auto”.

I second Billie Jean, though

I second Billie Jean, though I think Baba O’Reiley might be nice.


Baba! Another good one!

Tighten Up

Gentlemen, I think that we can all talk about the elephant in the room now. Clearly, the 1917 Archibald Drell and his one man band’s performance of Tighten Up is one that needs to be unarchived. This is when the Fishstick truly began to sweep the country. It is a little known fact that on April 2 of that year Woodrow Wilson was going to ask congress to adopt the Fishstick as the national dance of the United States right after he asked Congress to Declare war on Germany. It got lost in the hub-bub and excitement of War-talk.) Ten years later it was beat out by the Lindy as the dance of choice by the kids. It’s a cryin’ shame really.

you are correct, sir.

Holy shit. Never mind anything else I’ve said. Tighten Up gets my vote.

Well played.

A strong suggestion.

"Sympathy For The Devil" or "The Facts of Life" ?

I’d like to request Sympathy For The Devil by the Rolling Stones OR the theme from The Facts of Life.

Facts = Awesome suggestion.

Love that idea. Plus Mrs Garrett is the poster girl for 1911.

Low - Florida

The only thing better than 1920s hiphop is studying the cultural significance of 1920s hiphop.

Superchunk - “Precision Auto”

Superchunk’s “Precision Auto” as covered by Les Savy Fav, please

"Video Killed the Radio Star"

I’d like to hear THAT one done with the cupped hands thing.


Crap. Nevermind.

Louis Armstrong Louis Armstrong!

No discussion of the topic is complete without referring to Louis Armstrong’s original version of “Oops I Did It Again!”, but I’m also looking forward to your crack research team’s locating the original 78 of “Darling Nikki.”

Freak on a Leash

by Korn. I was going to suggest My Humps, but alas, I was beaten to it.

Bohemian Rhapsody

I mean. Come on! That, or Carry On Wayward Son. Or, let’s just go for broke on this one. The Thong Song.

oh please oh please

R. Kelly’s Ignition (remix, dontchaknow) or Madonna’s Like a Virgin

What do ya know, Joe?!

Divinyls - I Touch Myself

You know you wanna!


by Britney Spears. Would be interesting to see the original music video too. Flappers on bi-planes?

Dancin' With Myself

The Safety Dance

Can I propose a second?

Good call

I forgot about that one.

You... You got what I ne-ed!

What d’ya know, Joe? Biz Markie? Yes, please (and thank you).

Similar vocal style

Not a suggestion for a cover, but the vocals on White Town’s “Your Woman” are reminiscent of what you guys have been doing.

These are my desires

  1. I Touch Myself, by The Divynals
  2. White Wedding, by Billy Idol
  3. Love Shack, by The B-52’s
  4. I Wanna be Sedated, by The Ramones
  5. I Kissed A Girl, by Katy Perry
  6. Karma Chameleon, by Culture Club
  7. Never Gonna Give You Up, by Rick Astley
  8. Enter Sandman, by Metallica
  9. More Than A Feeling, by Boston
  10. Dancing Queen, by ABBA
  11. Ragdoll, by Aerosmith

That should about do it.


November Rain

Hearkening back to the days of Truck Spank, I think it’d be a tremendous oversight to not unearth the original version of this most tragic of rock n roll epics.

Nothing lasts forever (except for the Tux Age).

Anything by the Smiths

Though i’m thinking that Panic or The Queen is Dead might be the most appropriate.

Pachelbel Rant

Eli just referred me to this YouTube video about songs reusing songs. The practice is a lot older than 1919.

Only Two Feet Tall

I’d be happy with the song Hotdogsladies quoted during the show, originally made famous by Bernie Stigman and his One-Man Band. As far as I know, it was only covered once in living memory, in the early 70s as a disco standard. It was not a major commercial success.

An AC/DC medly...

…and/or “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen.

Five Rejected Ideas for Old Timey Cover Songs

  1. Slave to the Wage by the Butlerian Septet (Placebo)

  2. Fairytale of New York by Your Monthly Visitor (Pogues)

  3. Cactus by The Unseasonally Festive Trees (Pixies)

  4. Self-Esteem by The Ugly Babies (Offspring)

  5. World in My Eyes by One Chair Short (Depeche Mode)

Tommy The Cat

It must be mentioned that one of Primus’ most popular songs was itself a nearly note-for-note cover of the 1921 original (as made famous by Jimmy the Auger Repairman) : Tommy The Cat.

Clearly Les Claypool put a bit of a modern twist on the selection by eliminating the megaphone all-together, opting instead for modifying his vocal timbre upon performance.

An era of which I remain fond.

I’m still fond of The Postmarks cover of this Dust Bowl-era gem. Their vocals were much clearer, for one thing.

But I’ve yearned to hear the original blue amberol recordings of “Comfortably Numb” (I heard it was recorded by Edison’s lab assistants at the end of a long “ether frolic”) or “Lollipop” by Little Wayne and His Blue Moaners.

Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen

I’m surprised I haven’t seen this one mentioned yet, unless I read the comments too fast and overlooked it. Bicycle Race is optional.

Shake Ya Ass // Mystikal

Shake ya ass / But watch ya self / Shake ya ass / Showmewhatyouworkinwith

// jason p

Don't Stop Believing // Journey

live, on YouTube

My understanding is that the entire Journey catalog had been originally culled from songs old enough to have lost their copyright status. The only songs without a significant musical reference have so far been “Any Way You Want It” and, of course, “Wheel in the Sky”. According to the band’s Wikipedia article, founding members Neal Schon and Ross Valory have adamantly refused comment, citing legal constraints.

//jason p

WOW! Thanks.

OK, looks great, we’ve got a ton of great suggestions. We’ll head back to our mushroom-shaped studio in the middle of the Black Forest for some Lederhosen dancing and assorted musico-noodling. BRB (Where “R” ≈ a week or maybe 2).