You know the old joke…
So, after some delay, I’m…
Today’s examples have a certain circuity.
I. Going in Circles The Friends of Distinction
It could have been Luther Vandross or Isaac Hayes. It’s been covered by a number of artists. But the Friends got there first. It’s from their 1969 album Grazin’ and provided them with a #15 hit on the Hot 100 (and #3 on Billboard’s R&B chart).
By the way, do you remember the group from our obscurities series?
II. The Circle Game Buffy Sainte-Marie
Again, I might have chosen another artist… like Canadian-born Joni Mitchell, the person who actually wrote the song and made it part of her very successful 1970 Ladies of the Canyon album. But it was Buffy Sainte-Marie who first recorded it in 1967. And although that version only reached #109 on the charts (the only version of the song to chart), The Circle Game has enjoyed remarkable longevity with over 200 artists recording their own cover of the song.
Buffy Sainte-Marie continues to record and perform… her most recent album, Power in the Blood, released this past year, won the 2015 Polaris Music Prize. If interested in hearing more, have a listen to Sing Our Own Song from that album.
III. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Johnny Cash et al
How can you lose with this lineup? And… you won’t find many songs so often covered as this hymn (since its creation in 1907). Enjoy…
IV. The Circle of Life Elton John
It’s difficult to say whether this song is more closely linked to Elton John (the song’s composer with lyricist Tim Rice) or the musical which has perpetuated its popularity (The Lion King). Depending on the list you examine, the song reached from #30 (Austrian Top 40) to #1 (Canadian Adult Contemporary chart [RPM]) in 1994-1995. It remains a staple in John’s live performances and a show favourite in The Lion King.
In digging up the above performance on Youtube, I came across a version (below) which you might also enjoy (for the do-it-yourself type)…
V. Turn Down Day The Cyrkle
Well, I’ve been rather loose in my use of circle in this enterprise. So… why not finish with Turn Down Day, a song which doesn’t even have circle in the title (doesn’t the group name count?) Here’s The Cyrkle performing their 1966 hit (#16 in Canada and the U.S.)
…and leave out their #1 hit (in Canada and #2 in the States)? I think not!