Those Were the Days (song)

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"Those Were the Days"
Single by Mary Hopkin
B-side"Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Released26 August 1968 (US)
30 August 1968 (UK)
Format7" single
RecordedMid-July 1968
GenrePop
Length5:05
LabelApple
Writer(s)Boris Fomin and Gene Raskin
ProducerPaul McCartney
Mary Hopkin singles chronology
"Those Were the Days"
(1968)
"Goodbye"
(1969)
 
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"Those Were the Days"
Single by Mary Hopkin
B-side"Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Released26 August 1968 (US)
30 August 1968 (UK)
Format7" single
RecordedMid-July 1968
GenrePop
Length5:05
LabelApple
Writer(s)Boris Fomin and Gene Raskin
ProducerPaul McCartney
Mary Hopkin singles chronology
"Those Were the Days"
(1968)
"Goodbye"
(1969)
"Those Were The Days"
Single by Sandie Shaw
B-side"Make It Go"
Released1968
GenrePop
LabelPye
Writer(s)Gene Raskin, Boris Fomin
Sandie Shaw singles chronology
"Together"
(1968)
"Those Were the Days"
(1968)
"Monsieur Dupont"
(1969)

"Those Were the Days" is a song credited to Gene Raskin, who put English lyrics to the Russian romance song "Dorogoi dlinnoyu" ("Дорогой длинною", lit. "By the long road"), composed by Boris Fomin (1900–1948) with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevskii. It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism.

Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli (1900–1968) and Russian singer Alexander Vertinsky made what were probably the earliest recordings of the song, in 1925[1] and in 1926[2] respectively.

The song is best remembered, however, in English-speaking countries, for Mary Hopkin's 1968 recording, which was a top-ten hit in both the U.S. and the U.K. On most recorded versions of the song, Raskin is credited as the writer, even though he wrote only the later English lyrics and not the melody.

Contents

History

In the early 1960s Raskin, with his wife Francesca, played folk music around Greenwich Village in New York, including White Horse Tavern. They released an album which included the song, which was taken up by the Limeliters.[3] Raskin had grown up hearing the song, wrote lyrics in English and then put a copyright on both tune and lyrics. The Raskins were international performers and had played London's "Blue Angel" every year, always closing their show with the song. Paul McCartney frequented the club and, after the formation of The Beatles' own Apple Records label, recorded the song with Mary Hopkin, McCartney's agent having purchased the song rights from Raskin's. The song was subsequently recorded in over twenty languages and by many different artists and Raskin was able to live very well on the royalties, buying a home in Pollensa, Mallorca, a Porsche Spider and a sailing boat.

At the peak of the song's success, a New York company used the melody in a commercial for "Rokeach Ga-filte-fish", arguing that the tune was an old Russian folk-tune and thus in the public domain. Raskin successfully sued and won a settlement, since he had slightly altered the tune to fit his lyrics and had taken out the valid new copyright.

Although the song was popularized in the early 1960s by The Limeliters,[4] Welsh singer Mary Hopkin made the best known recording, released on 30 August 1968, shortly after Hopkin had been signed to the Beatles' newly created Apple label. Hopkin's recording was produced by Paul McCartney and became a #1 hit in the UK singles chart. In the US, Hopkin's recording reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Easy Listening charts for six weeks.[5] In the Netherlands it topped the charts for 2 consecutive weeks.[6] The Russian origin of the melody was accentuated by an instrumentation which was unusual for a top ten pop record, including clarinet, hammer dulcimer and children's chorus, giving a klezmer feel to the song.

Paul McCartney, who produced the session, also recorded Hopkin singing "Those Were The Days" in four other languages for release in their respective countries:

All four non-English sets of lyrics were also recorded by Dalida and Sandie Shaw with Shaw recording the English lyrics as well.

The UK and US recording's B-side was Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!", which had been a U.S. #1 hit for The Byrds in 1965.

"Those Were the Days" was catalogue number APPLE 2 (the APPLE 1 catalogue number was given to an unreleased version of "The Lady is a Tramp" by Rodgers and Hart, recorded especially in 1968 for Maureen Starkey as Ringo Starr's gift for her 22nd birthday, under the name of "The Lady is a Champ"). It was the second single to be released on the Apple label, the first - "Hey Jude" by The Beatles - had retained the sequential catalogue numbers used by Parlophone (in the UK) and Capitol (in the US).

Hopkin's version was released on the back of her success on the television talent show Opportunity Knocks and around the time of its release popular singer Sandie Shaw was also asked to record the song by her management, feeling that it should be done by a "real" singer. Shaw's version was released as a single but did not beat the success of Hopkin's version.

In the mid 1970s, after Hopkin's contract with Apple ended, "Those Were the Days" and "Goodbye" were re-recorded with producer Tony Visconti. Only these re-recorded versions can be found on music compilation discs because Apple never allows its original recordings to be used.

On Christmas 1975, the President of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macías Nguema, had 150 alleged coup plotters executed in the national stadium while a band played Those Were the Days.[7]

In 2005, Dolly Parton released a cover of "Those Were the Days," which featured backing vocals by Mary Hopkin. That year, the song became the title track of Dolly Parton's album Those Were The Days.

Other versions

See also

References

  1. ^ "Topic: Дорогой длинною". Second Hand Songs. http://www.secondhandsongs.com/topic/34176. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  2. ^ "Recording: Дорогой длинною - Alexander Vertinsky". Second Hand Songs. http://www.secondhandsongs.com/performance/19937. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  3. ^ "Eugene Raskin - Obituary" at independent.co.uk
  4. ^ "Those Were The Days (original) - The Limeliters 1962.wmv". YouTube. 2010-04-23. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O5EeBjxhiY. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 118.
  6. ^ "Chart information from Single Top 100". http://www.dutchcharts.nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Mary+Hopkin&titel=Those+Were+The+Days&cat=s. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  7. ^ Farah, Douglas (13 May 2001). "Oil Gives African Nation a Chance for Change". The Washington Post. Hartford Web Publishing. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/35/238.html. Retrieved 9 January 2011. "...a far cry from the days of Macias, who on Christmas 1975 executed 150 alleged coup plotters in the national stadium while a band played "Those Were the Days.""
  8. ^ "Gigi D'Agostino - Some Experiments (CD)". Discogs. http://www.discogs.com/Gigi-DAgostino-Some-Experiments/release/596901. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  9. ^ "Singalongs > Overview". Allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r1187927. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
  10. ^ "wilfredo in italy - salento festival". YouTube. 2010-11-12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJGriWjVk3U. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  11. ^ "Click on the album covers to order the CD / MP3 Download on iTunes". Kiosktheband.com. http://www.kiosktheband.com/Kiosk_official_website/Music.html. Retrieved 2012-06-06.

External links

Preceded by
"Hey Jude" by The Beatles
UK number one single
(Mary Hopkin version)

25 September - 30 October 1968 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"With a Little Help from My Friends" by Joe Cocker
Preceded by
"Fire" by Arthur Brown
Canadian RPM 100 number-one single
(Mary Hopkin version)

October 28 - November 2, 1968 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Hold Me Tight" by Johnny Nash
Preceded by
"My Special Angel" by The Vogues
US Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single
(Mary Hopkin version)

November 2, 1968 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell
Preceded by
"Koi no Kisetsu" by Pinky and the Killers
Japanese Oricon Chart number one single
(Mary Hopkin version)

January 27, 1969
Succeeded by
"Namida no Kisetsu" by Pinky and the Killers