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Mockingbird (1963 song)


Mockingbird (1963 song)

Single by Inez and Charlie Foxx
B-side "Jaybirds"
Released 1963
Format 7"
Genre Soul
Length 2:38
Label Symbol 925
Writer(s) Inez Foxx, Charlie Foxx

Single by Carly Simon and James Taylor
from the album Hotcakes
B-side "Grownup" (Carlie Simon)
Released January 1974
Format 7"
Genre Rock
Length 3:45
Label Elektra 45880
Writer(s) Inez and Charlie Foxx
Producer Richard Perry

Carly Simon chronology
"The Right Thing to Do"/"We Have No Secrets"
"Haven't Got Time For The Pain"
James Taylor chronology
"One Man Parade"
"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)"
Greatest Hits 2
Released November 8, 2004
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 3:32
Label DreamWorks
Writer(s) Inez and Charlie Foxx
Producer James Stroud, Toby Keith, Lari White

Toby Keith chronology
"Stays in Mexico"
"Honkytonk U"

"Mockingbird" is a 1963 song written and recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx, based on the lullaby "Hush Little Baby".


The original single was credited to Inez Foxx with vocal accompaniment by her brother Charlie, as they alternated the lyric on a syllabic basis. Considered something of a novelty song, it was a great success for them upon its release by Sue Records (Symbol Records), reaching number 2 on the U.S. Top Black Singles / Rhythm & Blues chart and number 7 on the U.S. popular music singles chart in late 1963.[1] Chris Blackwell of Island Records company heard "Mockingbird" playing in a record store in Kingston, Jamaica and flew to New York City to negotiate the track's UK release; resultantly Island Records leased the Sue brand for UK distribution in order to vend the American company's output in the UK, beginning with "Mockingbird" in December 1963. However "Mockingbird" would not become a UK success until its 1969 re-issue when it scored #33.[2]

The song was covered by Dusty Springfield for her 1964 album A Girl Called Dusty; Springfield sang both parts of the track. "Mockingbird" was also recorded by Aretha Franklin for her 1965 album Runnin' Out of Fools; Franklin performed "Mockingbird"—with Ray Johnson providing the counter-vocal—on the 10 March 1965 episode of the program Shindig. Franklin's version of "Mockingbird" was one of several tracks to which Columbia Records company gave a single release after the singer's commercial success with Atlantic Records in 1967; released at the same time as Franklin's Atlantic single album "Chain of Fools"—which would reach #2—Franklin's version of "Mockingbird" scored two weeks at #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1967.

1970s: Carly Simon & James Taylor

Carly Simon and James Taylor recorded a remake of "Mockingbird" in the autumn of 1973. The track was released as the lead single from Simon's album Hotcakes, although it was Taylor's idea to remake "Mockingbird", which he knew from a live performance by Inez and Charlie Foxx at the Apollo Theater in 1965, and which song Taylor and his sister Kate Taylor had often sung for fun as teenagers. Featuring a considerable lyrical adjustment by Taylor and keyboard work from Dr. John, Robbie Robertson's rhythm guitar and a tenor saxophone solo by Michael Brecker, "Mockingbird" rose to #5 in March 1974.[3] The Simon/Taylor version of "Mockingbird" also charted in Canada (#3), New Zealand (#6), the UK (#34) and Australia (see subsection below).

Carly Simon overcame her fear of live performing to come onstage to sing "Mockingbird" with Taylor during his 1975 tour; the duo also performed "Mockingbird" live at the No Nukes Concert at Madison Square Gardens in September 1979, the performance being recorded for the No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future album and also the movie No Nukes. In recent years Taylor has performed "Mockingbird" live with his daughter (by Simon) Sally Taylor and Simon has performed the song live with her and Taylor's son Ben Taylor.

The 1999 Jim Brickman album Visions of Love features Carly Simon singing "Hush Little Baby"—as "Hush Li'l Baby"—which Brickman chose for Simon because "I thought it would be cool if she was singing about the mockingbird since she had a Top 5 [success with "Mockingbird"] in 1974".[4]

Australia: Johnny O'Keefe

In Australia, the Simon/Taylor version of "Mockingbird" charted simultaneously with another version - this one featuring the original lyrics - by Johnny O'Keefe sung with his resident background vocalist Margaret McLaren; the two versions were ranked in tandem on the charts, peaking at #8 for four weeks beginning in May 1974. O'Keefe, who had performed "Mockingbird" in 1964 as compere of the Sing Sing Sing musical show, had recorded the track with McLaren in October 1972, the track having a single release in 1973 and appearing on the local "hit parade" in Adelaide that November around the time the Simon/Taylor version was recorded; O'Keefe, who believed that the Simon/Taylor version was effectively a cover version resulting from Festival Records company selling the O'Keefe version to American record companies, lobbied the Minister for Media and the Broadcasting Control Board to have his version of "Mockingbird" receive at least equal broadcasting time with the Simon/Taylor version on Australian radio.[5]

In the Australian stage musical Shout! based on Johnny O'Keefe's life, the characters of O'Keefe and of his mother Thelma perform "Mockingbird" as part of a sequence dramatizing O'Keefe's 1975 This is Your Life appearance. The musical opened 4 January 2001 with David Campbell and Trisha Noble as respectively Johnny and Thelma; Campbell and Noble recorded their version of "Mockingbird" for the Shout! soundtrack album released that March.

Other versions

The Belle Stars reached #51 UK in October 1982 with their remake of "Mockingbird".

Toby Keith reached number 27 on Hot Country Songs in 2004 with a cover featuring his daughter, Krystal Keith. It appears on Keith's Greatest Hits 2 album.

In 2007, Eddie Money remade "Mockingbird" for his album of classic Soul covers Wanna Go Back; he was partnered by his daughter Jesse Money.

On the television series Blossom, Melissa Manchester and Joey Lawrence—playing mother and son—duet on "Mockingbird" after a solo by Manchester on "Hush Little Baby". "Mockingbird" is also performed by characters in the television series Will & Grace and in the films National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) and Dumb & Dumber (1994).

American rapper Eminem also used the lullaby "Hush Little Baby" in the lyrics of his single Mockingbird from his 2004 album Encore.


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