View Full Version : Surprised by song authorship

09-08-2013, 06:58 AM
We've lived in our little town for 27 years, and I've known of a bicycle trail that's paved in the place of a former railroad track. It's called the Libba Cotten Bikeway and this week—only decades after I first saw it—I read the sign and saw it was named for the author of "Freight Train," who had lived nearby.

Are there songs whose composers (or composers whose songs) have surprised you? For example, I was surprised that Bruno Mars wrote Cee Lo Green's lively and funny but crude "F*ck You."

09-08-2013, 07:09 AM
"Blinded By the Light," a classic rock radio staple performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band was written by a young Bruce Springsteen.

"Fire" performed by the Pointer Sisters was also written by Bruce Springsteen. ( saw Bruce perform his version of "Fire" live earlier this year.)

09-08-2013, 07:15 AM
Paul Simon co-wrote Red Rubber Ball, a top ten hit for the Cyrkle, back in the day.


09-08-2013, 07:40 AM
The 1961 West Coast hit "Memories of El Monte" by the Penguins (of "Earth Angel" fame) was written and produced by Frank Zappa

09-08-2013, 08:44 AM
Country singer Hoyt Axton wrote songs like Three Dog Night's "Joy To The World" and Steppenwolf's "The Pusher".

Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire" was actually written by his wife, June Carter Cash.

09-08-2013, 10:57 AM
I snooped around online and found that Neil Diamond wrote the reggae hit, Red Red Wine, but not as Reggae. I've only ever heard or remember the UB40 version.

09-08-2013, 11:55 AM
Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" was written by Shel Silverstein. Yep, that Shel Silverstein.

Another Silverstein-penned song, not quite as famous (at least in the US), and rather bawdy, is "The Mermaid" by Great Big Sea:

A lot of people aren't aware that Silverstein spent years contributing to magazines like Playboy prior to his career as a children's poet.

09-08-2013, 12:18 PM
I thought it was pretty well known, but This Diamond Ring was written by Al Kooper, the Zelig of rock. (And great in his own right)

09-08-2013, 02:30 PM
I was really surprised to find out 99 Miles from LA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99_Miles_From_L.A.) wasn't written by Jimmy Webb.

Oddly enough, just this afternoon I read a reference to "Libba Cotten" and until that moment, I had no idea that was another name that Elizabeth Cotten went by.

ukuLily Mars
09-08-2013, 03:30 PM
I was surprised to find out that Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Any More" was written by Paul Anka. I think I just sort of figured most of his songs were written by, you know, Buddy Holly.

09-08-2013, 03:50 PM
I always thought that Dolly Parton wrote "Islands in the Sun". It was the Bee Gees and was actually intended for Marvin Gaye!??

09-08-2013, 03:56 PM
2 more.. Black Magic Woman, not Santana but Fleetwood Mac, would never have guessed and Nothing Compares 2 U, not Sinead but Prince.

09-08-2013, 04:09 PM
2 more.. Black Magic Woman, not Santana but Fleetwood Mac, would never have guessed and Nothing Compares 2 U, not Sinead but Prince.

And the live version Prince does on his Greatest Hits collection is fantastic!

09-08-2013, 05:10 PM
And there's David Bromberg's version of Wallflower written by Bob Dylan.

09-09-2013, 04:02 AM
Neil Diamond also wrote the Monkees hit "I'm a Believer".

Chip Taylor, the guy who wrote "Wild Thing", also wrote the song's polar opposite, "Angel of the Morning".

The Bangles hit "Manic Monday" was written by Prince.

- FiL

Jon Moody
09-09-2013, 04:08 AM
It's never really surprised me. Songwriters have been selling songs for decades. Willie Nelson had no desire at all to perform, and was happy to write songs for other people (like "Crazy," recorded by Patsy Cline). That's a great way to make a consistent royalty income, if you can swing it.

09-09-2013, 04:38 AM
2 more.. Black Magic Woman, not Santana but Fleetwood Mac, would never have guessed and Nothing Compares 2 U, not Sinead but Prince.

Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac wrote the song, they were a very different band originally, than the Rumours era band with Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, which I actually prefer.

09-09-2013, 04:57 AM
Kelly Clarkson's big hit "Breakaway" was written by Avril Lavigne (think Sk8er Boi, Complicated) before she was 16 and she was gonna include it on her first album in 2002 (when she was 17), but thought it was too poppy.