Thanks to some help from others here, I was able to identify the original Patsy Cline hit, "Walkin' After Midnight." The version usually heard is a cover from an album with the Jordanaires, and I've heard several other variations played on radio stations. Nice to find the original.
Seems this song is one of many like this. I suppose during the big band era, nobody really cared that much about which recording is which, as most of the time these songs were played live on the air, and the Great Depression created a mindset of listening to the radio as opposed to buying the record. Plus, as recording techniques improved, original recordings quickly became obsolete in favor of new records with improved fidelity.
Then came the rock 'n roll era, and it seems these "cover" recordings simply don't sound as good as the original hits. Even if the original was done in a garage, it's the preferred choice over newer covers. Plus, as collectors, it seems the original recording is the prize, especially if it's a tangible 78 or 45 with the original label. I've got Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" in a frame on the wall because of the label, proving it to be the original run from 1954, as an example.
Anyway, this Christmas season, I've got three Christmas hits which are originals, different from the covers you typically hear on the radio or buy today:
"White Christmas" by Bing Crosby. The original hit was recorded in 1942 and, because of inferior wartime materials, the masters got chewed up. What you hear today is a cover recorded in 1947.
"Silent Night, Holy Night" by Bing Crosby. There are at least three versions, recorded in 1935, 1942, and 1947. I've got all three 78's. The original hit was with Victor Young's orchestra, the latter two (Title shortened to "Silent Night") with John Scott Trotter. Was there any hit recording of this record made, by anybody, before 1935? The song itself dates back to 1818, but I guess it was Bing who put it on the map.
"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" by Elmo & Patsy. Big hit for 1979. Re-recorded in 1982 on Epic Records, and this cover is the only one you ever hear today. I'm told the original was on an "Elmo & Patsy" label, an "Oink" label, and finally on a "Soundwaves" label. I've got a mint copy on Soundwaves. Don't know for sure but I've been told that Elmo and Patsy got a divorce, and Elmo recorded the cover to keep Patsy from continually getting royalties for the song. Then again, where was Patsy on either record -- did she play flute or something?
I suppose next place to check is the Gene Autry hits. Again, I've heard several variations, and one day will seek out the originals.
Gary Tayman, Sarasota, Florida