Till There Was You[sic] is a song written by Meredith Willson for his 1957 musical play The Music Man, and which also appeared in the 1962 movie version. The song is sung by librarian Marian Paroo (Barbara Cook on Broadway, Shirley Jones in the film) to Professor Harold Hill (portrayed by Robert Preston) toward the end of Act Two.
The first recording of this song to be released came even before the original cast album version of January 1958. Promotional copies of the 45 rpm single, Capitol P3847, were released on November 26, 1957, even before the Broadway production had premiered on December 19. Produced by Nelson Riddle, it featured his orchestra and 17-year-old vocalist Sue Raney.
An earlier version of this song, "Till I Met You", was first recorded by Eileen Wilson in 1950 and later appeared on the January 14, 1951 edition of the The Big Show, performed by Fran Warren.
In 1958, jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins recorded the song on his groundbreaking album Freedom Suite. An alternate take is provided on the 1999 CD re-release.
In 1959, Anita Bryant recorded a single which reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #14 on the Cashbox Top 100.
In March 1961, "Till There Was You" was a minor hit in the UK for Peggy Lee.
Al Hirt released a version on his 1962 album, Horn A-Plenty.
In 1962, the young Nana Mouskouri recorded a slow, romantic, velvety version as originally the closing track on her acclaimed Great American Songbook album Nana Mouskouri in New York (The Girl from Greece Sings), produced by Quincy Jones.
In 1962, an instrumental version of Meredith Willson's song Valjean was also popular.
In 1963, Sergio Franchi recorded this song on his RCA Victor Red Seal album Broadway... I Love You.
The Beatles version Edit
Paul McCartney was introduced to Peggy Lee's music by older cousin, Bett Robbins, who would occasionally baby-sit the two McCartney brothers. McCartney said: "I had no idea until much later that it was from The Music Man." "Till There Was You" was part of the Beatles' repertoire in 1962 and performed at the Star Club in Hamburg. It became illustrative of the Beatles' versatility, proving they could appeal to all sections of an audience, moving easily from softer ballads to harder rock and roll, as their appearance on November 4, 1963 at the Royal Variety Performance when they followed this song with "Twist and Shout".
The band had previously performed "Till There Was You" as part of their failed audition for Decca Records in London on New Years Day of 1962, and it was the second of five the group sang during their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.
Live versions of the song were released on Live at the BBC (1994) and Anthology 1 (1995). The latter version was recorded when the Beatles played at the Royal Variety Performance; because the album was cut so that live numbers began with the actual song, John Lennon's famous request that those in the royal box "rattle your jewellery" to "Twist and Shout" is in fact included on the "Till There Was You" track. When introducing this song (likewise placed on "She Loves You" for Anthology), McCartney commented that the song had also been recorded by our favourite American group, Sophie Tucker". This tongue-in-cheek comment by McCartney unwittingly began an urban legend that "Till There Was You" was an old Sophie Tucker song, when in fact, there is no record of her ever performing the tune.
The official title is as given here, but it should actually have been called 'Til There Was You ("until"); "till" means "a cash register" or "to plough".
- Paul McCartney – lead vocals, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
- John Lennon – acoustic rhythm guitar (1962 Gibson J-160E)
- George Harrison – lead acoustic guitar (1962 Gibson J-160E)
- Ringo Starr – bongos