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Many believe in "Yesterday'

Question: Here's a tough one: Which song has been most often recorded over the last 50 years? I read that Stardust is the champ. My co-worker, who is too young to know Stardust, claims the leader is Yesterday, first recorded by the Beatles. Who's correct? _ Bob Campo, WQYK AM-FM, St. Petersburg

Dear Bob: Your young associate is right. Just a few years ago, Yesterday surpassed Stardust as the most recorded song ever.

Though the number of recordings of Yesterday is ever-changing, approximately 2,600 versions have been made since John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the tune in 1965.

In a related topic, Yesterday is the second-most-recorded non-holiday track found on albums that charted from 1955 through 1992. During that period, 69 different charted albums included Yesterday. Only Tonight, from West Side Story, appeared more often on hit LPs _ 81 times.

Music historians offer no explanation why this unadorned little song achieved so much acclaim. Somehow it enchanted the music-buying public and a couple thousand recording artists.

Question: I have Pretty Paper by both Roy Orbison and by Willie Nelson, but neither is the version I recall hearing way back when. Did someone else record this song in the '60s? _ Cathy Reep, Lincolnton, N.C.

Dear Cathy: Yes, at least one other person did Pretty Paper in the '60s. Glen Campbell included the tune, written by Willie Nelson, on That Christmas Feeling, Glen's 1968 holiday album. Could his be the one you remember?

Other than Campbell's _ plus of course Willie's original and the hit version by Roy Orbison _ I know of no other waxing of Pretty Paper from the '60s, though a few were made after 1970.

One thing is certain; no single of Pretty Paper, other than Roy Orbison's, received airplay to any extent or landed on any of the charts.

Question: I am curious about a record that was given to me. It is by J.R. La Rue and the Goldtones, and the titles are Jane and I'm Gonna Love You Anyway (Pike 5914). The music is '50s-'60s, right out of my era. Do you know if this group made any other records?

From my name you will understand my interest in this band. _ J.R. La Rue, Portsmouth, N.H.

Dear J.R.: Your curiosity is justified. Although J.R. and the Goldtones never charted, yours is the second of two singles they made for Pike. Their first is Three Hearts _ I Know Better (Pike 5912). Both came out in 1962, and both now sell for $15 to $25.

By the way, those Goldtones really got around. Pike 5913, the selection between the two J.R. La Rue discs, is Wasted Words _ Rocking Chair, by Bill Bryan and . . . the Goldtones.

IZ ZAT SO? Despite being recorded by seemingly everyone who ever walked into a studio, only the Beatles' original issue of Yesterday became a sizable hit _ a No. 1 in October 1965. Interestingly, Yesterday became the first Beatles ballad to make it to No. 1.

The only other charted version came from Ray Charles, in 1967. Ray's rendition peaked at No. 25.

1994, World Features Syndicate