Same Melody, Different Song

In this thread we (I hope) will come up with instances where essentially the same melody was popular in different times (centuries, decades, etc.) under different titles. For the most part let’s avoid disputed derivative works (e.g., “He’s So Fine”/“My Sweet Lord”) to focus on a popular melody put to new lyrics with renewed popularity.

Other than popular classical tunes used in early Disney animations (which should be a fertile source), I can think of three:

  1. Pete Seeger’s “Wimoweh” became “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (which was itself popular twice over 30 years apart). (A part of the theme to Wimoweh derives in turn from Solomon Linda’s “Mbube.”)

  2. Kurt Weill’s “Moritat” became “Mack the Knife.”

  3. The Civil War-era ballad “Aura Lee”, later recorded by Jim Reeves and others, gave rise to Elvis’s “Love Me Tender.”

Who has other examples?

“O Sole Mio” / “It’s Now or Never” / the mysterious third song I keep forgetting
and in the Olympic spirit, “God Save The Queen” / “My Country 'Tis of Thee”

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and the ABC song.
“What Child is This?” and “Greensleeves”

Also, there was a similar thread not too long ago, with lots of examples.

Obligatory Axis of Awesome link

“There’s No Tomorrow” by Tony Martin
“Dance of the Hours”/“Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”

I always thought this one was funny. My Country predates The Star Spangled Banner, of course. So, we’re a new nation, no national anthem of our own… Well, let’s just borrow God Save the Queen and change the words, nobody will notice.

“All by Myself” by Eric Carmen/Piano Concerto Number 2, second movement, by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Meredith Wilson changed a march into a waltz and got “Good Night My Someone” from “76 Trombones.”

Of course, they weren’t separated by years or decades. More like Act I and later in Act I.

Here, actually. Started in April, 2011, but still active until two months ago.

No it didn’t. The correct German title is “Moritat von Mackie Messer”. “[The Ballad of] Mack the Knife” is just a translation into English.

Chuck Berry’s “The Promised Land” is basically a rock and roll version of “The Wabash Cannonball”.

Bobby Darin’s 1958 Top 40 hit “Plain Jane” is the same song as the 1844 “Buffalo Gals,” which was originally titled “Lubly Fan,” a blackface minstrel song.

There is a hymn with the same tune as “Aura Lee”/“Love Me Tender” but I can’t recall the title.

Red Hot Chili Pepper’s ‘Dani California’ is Tom Petty’s ‘Last Dance with Maryjane.’

Speaking of Chuck Berry, his song “Sweet Little Sixteen” is the same music as The Beach Boys’ "Surfin’ USA.

And he took his 1957 song “School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)” and revamped it in 1964 to that ode to blue balls, “No particular Place to Go”

Paul Simon stole a melody from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion for “American Tune.”

What’s Up? from 4 Non Blondes is a slightly slower Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

One of Haydn’s sting quartets gave us the melody that’s been used as both the German anthem “Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles” AND the official school song of Columbia University (my alma mater; given how many Jewish students and faculty Columbia always has, I’m amazed the song wasn’t changed quietly ages ago).

There are NUMEROUS Irish folk songs that re-use and recycle the same melodies. Of the top of my head, I can think of several songs that use the melody commonly known as “The Wearing of the Green.” And numerous Irish songs have re-used the melody of “Young Roddy McCorley” (like “Sean South of Garryowen”).

John Lennon’s “Christmas/War Is Over” is set to a very old folk tune that’s been used countless times. Check out, say, Peter, Paul & Mary’s version of “Stewball” (an old song about a race horse), and you’ll see that the melody is exactly the same as Lennon’s Christmas song.

Bob Dylan used the melodies of Irish and British folk songs for many of his early songs, and often based the lyrics on them as well. For example, “Restless Farewell” is a rewrite of “The Parting Glass”, “Farewell” is “The Leaving of Liverpool”, and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” obviously based on “Lord Randall”, although not as closely as the first two.

The reason for this, I seem to remember, is that The Clancy Brothers were extremely popular in New York when Dylan moved there in the early 60s, and introduced him to the Irish folk songs.

Yes, this is almost the nature of folk songs – to reuse melodies. Dylan has done a lot of this… like, “Restless Farewell” is based on “The Parting Glass”, and “Girl from the North Country” is based on “Scarborough Fair”.

Star Spangled Banner was itself copied from To Anacreon in Heaven, another English song.