UNKNOWN "Stand By Him" (Alternate "Paradise" - Unreleased Acetate, 1965)
Written by Perry Botkin, Jr./Gil Garfield/Harry Nilsson/Phil Spector
UNRELEASED DEMOS: In 1965, Harry was moonlighting as a songwriter with Perry Botkin & Gil Garfield's publishing concern, Rock Music Co. After Botkin introduced young Harry to Phil Spector, the two began working together, and "Paradise" became one of only three songs the pair are known to have "co-written" (along with "Here I Sit" and "This Could Be The Night"). Talk to Perry Botkin, however, and he'll tell you that Spector had absolutely nothing to do with composing the song. Not a surprising suggestion, since power players like Phil (or Alan Freed, or Elvis) sometimes received compositional credits (and royalties) in return for the opportunities they provided to lowly, up-and-coming songwriters. Botkin reiterated this claim as recently as 2012, when discussing "Paradise" with Andrew Sandoval: "There are four writers on this, right? Garfield, Botkin, Nilsson... and Spector. Well, Phil Spector didn't have anything to do with the writing," he laughed. "That was written between Harry, Gil and I up in our office in Hollywood."
Yet, Harry recalls things differently, saying he actually sat down with Phil to hash out one of Spector's original tunes. According to Dave Thompson's, Phil Spector: Wall Of Pain, Nilsson told Goldmine magazine that "'Paradise' began life as a Spector original called 'Stand By Him.' We started working on it and he kept changing it, trying to make it better... 'I want something more Hawaiian, rainbows, paradise!'" Further, there's an incredibly rare, unreleased 1965 acetate of "Stand By Him" (recorded at Gold Star Studios by an unknown singer), that appears to back-up Nilsson's recollection of events. Note the very Harry-esque piano introduction of both Nilsson's demo and Spector's Gold Star acetate, almost enough to make you wonder which came first. It's Harry's demo rendition, however, that has been covered by numerous artists over the years, though the piano intro was abandoned after the demo stage. "Stand By Him," on the other hand, never surfaced again in any other form. Listen to both, below.
Harry Nilsson "Paradise" (1965) - Demo, Unreleased
Unknown "Stand By Him" (Paradise) (1965) - Acetate, Unreleased
To add more confusion to the mix... there are the label credits. Early releases of "Paradise" credit only "Harry Nilsson" as songwriter - including The Shangri-Las' 1966 Red Bird 45 (the song's first public appearance), Jean King's promo-only version on New Nilsson Songs, and later covers by Gogi Grant (1969), The Supremes (1973) and Cyrus Faryar (1973). The Ronettes' 1966 version, finally released on 1976's UK-only Phil Spector Wall Of Sound Vol. 5: Rare Masters, Vol. 1 compilation, credits all four writers, while the BMI database, like Bette Midler's studio & live renditions (1977/1980), don't mention Spector at all. Phil himself even released a bizarre 1976 "Ronnie Spector" 45 (in reality, The Ronettes exact same 1966 recording), that is credited to Spector/Nilsson.
The 1969 release by Gogi Grant might be of interest to Harry's fans, since it was produced by Perry Botkin, Jr. and arranged by George Tipton - Harry's arranger from Spotlight On Nilsson to The Point! To connect a few more dots, Cyrus Faryar, who covered the song in 1973, was a member of The Modern Folk Quartet - the first to record Nilsson's "This Could Be The Night" in 1965 (credited to Nilsson/Spector, more on that here). While The Supremes' rendition was produced and arranged by Harry's close friend, songwriter Jimmy Webb. According to Flo & Eddie, Chip Douglas tried to get The Turtles to cover "Paradise." We couldn't have put this post together without the help and expertise of David A. Young, who supplied the ultra-rare "Stand By Him" acetate, graphic (and more), as well as important details and information. David also provided help on another of our Spector-related posts, "Let Me Go." Many thanks, David. Give a listen below to all of the cover versions of "Paradise" we could scrounge together for you. Grab everything HERE.
The Ronettes (1966) Phil Spector Wall Of Sound Vol. 5: Rare Masters, Vol. 1, 1976
The Shangri-Las (1966) - Single, Red Bird 10-068
Jean King (1967) - New Nilsson Songs, Publishing Demo LP
Gogi Grant (1969) - Single, Pete-708
The Supremes (1972) - Produced And Arranged By Jimmy Webb
Cyrus Faryar (1973) - Islands
Bette Midler (1977) - Broken Blossom
Bette Midler (live version, 1980) - Divine Madness
Shonen Knife (1996) - The Birds And The B-Sides
Shiveree (2007) - Tainted Love: Mating Calls And Fight Songs
RELATED POSTS: (Click For Pop-Up Windows)
This Could Be The Night (Harry's Demo, Produced By Phil Spector 1965)
The Peculiarly Incestuous 30-Year Journey Of Harry Nilsson's This Could Be The Night (Multiple Versions 1965-1995)
Let Me Go (Harry's Demo, Produced By Phil Spector 1965)
THE RONETTES Paradise & Here I Sit (Spector Collaborations 1965)
New Nilsson Songs (Publishing Demo LP 1967)
NILSSON/CHER A Love Like Yours (Produced By Phil Spector 1975)
Perry Botkin, Jr. (Known Associates)