JOHNNY O'KEEFE & MARGARET MCLAREN
Mockingbird
(Inez Foxx)
Australia 1973
#15 Sydney #1 Melbourne #13 Brisbane #9 Adelaide

Co-charted in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with the Carly Simon-James Taylor version.

Far from being a cover version of the Simon-Taylor record, the O’Keefe-McLaren Mockingbird was recorded in October 1972 and released in mid-1973. It charted in Adelaide in November 1973, some four months before Carly Simon's version had even been released.

In fact, O'Keefe believed that the Simon-Taylor recording was inspired by his version after Festival Records submitted it to a number of American record companies. When the American record was released, O’Keefe campaigned to have his version given at least equal airplay on Australian radio, to the extent of lobbying the Minister for Media and the Broadcasting Control Board. (Damian Johnstone, The Wild One, 2001, pp 260-263.)


Johnny O'Keefe had been performing Mockingbird live at least as long ago as 1963 (though not, we must assume, in 1956 as you may read elsewhere).

In October 1963 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Johnny O'Keefe would be singing Mockingbird with visiting British singer Alma Cogan on the next edition of O'Keefe's Sing Sing Sing.[Google Newspaper Archive]

There is video footage at YouTube of JO'K and Del Juliana performing Mockingbird together, also well before the duet with Margaret McLaren.
For more on Johnny O'Keefe, Australia's King of Rock'n'Roll see, for example his signature song The Wild One or browse his songs from the Artists page.

Thanks to Terry Stacey.

CARLY SIMON WITH JAMES TAYLOR
Mockingbird
(Inez Foxx)
USA 1974
#5 USA #15 Sydney #1 Melbourne #13 Brisbane #28 Adelaide #6 NZ

Co-charted in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with Johnny O'Keefe's version which was released a few months before Carly Simon's March 1974 release (see above).

INEZ FOXX (ACCOMP. CHARLES FOXX)
Mockingbird
(Inez Foxx)
USA 1963
Original version
#7 USA #34 UK*

Single on Symbol label. *Charted in UK in 1969 on reissue.

Lyrically indebted to a traditional rhyme (below).

Also recorded, for example, by Martha & The Vandellas (1963), Dusty Springfield (1964), Aretha Franklin (1967), The Belle Stars (1983), Taj Mahal (with Etta James, 1993), and US country singer Toby Keith with daughter Krystal (2004).

 
[TRADITIONAL]
HUSH LITTLE BABY (aka MOCKING BIRD)
Traditional

This traditional lullaby, possibly traceable to the West Virginian Appalachians, may be as old as the 18th Century.

Apart from Inez Foxx's Mockingbird, the most familiar reworking of the Hush Little Baby lyrics in popular song is in Bo Diddley's Bo Diddley

Hush Little Baby has also appeared as Hambone, sung a cappella to a thigh slapping African-derived beat, the same 'shave-and-a-haircut... two-bits' used by Bo Diddley in his version. Arnold Rypens unravels the history of Hambone, Bo Diddley and variations at The Originals.

Ray Brown's Australian hit Fool Fool Fool, written by Rudy Clark, also uses the Hush Little Baby lyrics.

Rap star Eminem in Mockingbird charmingly varies the lyrics so that Daddy's going to "break that birdie's neck" if it doesn't sing (2004, not the Inez Foxx song).

These are the traditional lyrics, from Baring-Gould & Baring-Gould, The Annotated Mother Goose (1962):

Hush, little baby, don't say a word,
Papa's gonna buy you a mocking bird.

If the mocking bird won't sing,
Papa's going to buy you a diamond ring.

If the diamond ring turns to brass,
Papa's going to buy you a looking-glass.

If the looking-glass gets broke,
Papa's going to buy you a billy goat.

If the billy goat runs away,
Papa's going to buy you another today.

Thanks to Joop Jansen & honeydhont via The Originals.
Photo: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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