Under US Copyright Law, once a tune is recorded and released, others may record and release their own versions without explicit permission from the writers or the publisher. The process is simple: pay for a compulsory license. The rate is preset by statute.
I recently learned that in addition to the Jesters’ very successful 1948 album, Little Songs on Big Subjects (described by me here and here), there was an almost identical album released on Vox Records by the Bachelors. I have not yet determined which album came out first.
The Bachelors album was also entitled Little Songs on Big Subjects and included all the songs on the Jesters’ album, plus one additional Zaret/Singer tune, The Poor Old World (see below for the lyrics). Other than that one tune, the lyrics are the same on both albums; the arrangements are quite different.
Listen and compare:
Traveling Broadens One by the Bachelors[audio:http://stevecotler.com/tales/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Traveling-Broadens-One1.mp3|titles=Traveling Broadens One–Bachelors]
Traveling Broadens One by the Jesters[audio:http://stevecotler.com/tales/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Traveling-Broadens-One.mp3|titles=Traveling Broadens One–Jesters]
Which do you prefer?
A bit of the history behind these songs is included in the Bachelors album liner notes:
I had never heard any of the Bachelors’ versions. There is nothing about them on the Internet. Please comment if their arrangements are the ones you remember.
There was also a Leon Bibb/Ronnie Gilbert album called It Could Be a Wonderful World that included many (or all…I have more research to do) of these Zaret/Singer tunes. Subtitled Little Songs on Big Subjects (look at the album cover’s upper left corner), it was released in the ’50s, but it is barely mentioned on the Internet.
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Thanks to the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University for research assistance.