Those Were the Days Mary Hopkin



” Those Were the Days ” was by Mary Hopkin, the Welsh folk singer-songwriter. The song was written by Boris Fomin and Gene Raskin. Production for the single was by Paul McCartney.
Boris Fomin was a Russian musician and composer who mostly wrote about Russian romance. He became a famous songwriter in the 1920’s with his most famous piece of work called ” Dorogoi Dlinnoyu ” or Endless Road, which later became the English ” Those Were the Days “.
Gene Raskin was an American musician; he was also a playwright, Professor of Architecture and the author of the English lyrics to Boris Fomin’s original song.
The first known recordings of the original Russian version of the song were made in 1925 by Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli and a year later in 1926 by Russian singer Alexander Vertinsky.
Gene Raskin and his wife Francesca played folk music in the White Horse Tavern and other venues around Greenwich Village in New York. Gene had grown up hearing ” Dorogoi Dlinnoyu ” and decided to co-write ( with his wife ) new English lyrics to the original composition, he then copyrighted both the music and the lyrics under his name.
Wrongly he is credited as the sole writer, he did in fact only write the English lyrics and not directly translate the Russian original or compose the music.
Mary Hopkin had already recorded songs in Welsh for Cambrian, a specialist Welsh record label. She had been allowed to enter the British TV network ITV’s talent show Opportunity Knocks.
After appearing on the show, she was voted by the studio’s audience into first place. The famous sixties model Twiggy had seen Mary on the show and telephoned Paul McCartney suggesting she’d be perfect for the Beatles new record label Apple.
Paul had been in a London nightclub when he heard Gene Raskin and his wife Francesca perform the song; he immediately thought the song was a perfect fit for his new signing, Mary Hopkin.
The version played by Gene Raskin and his wife was intended for much older singers than the then 18-year-old Mary. She performed the song well with the help of orchestral arrangement by Richard Anthony Hewson. He was an English producer, conductor and arranger; he also conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
” Those Were the Days ” became a huge success for Mary. After the song was released in the United Kingdom, it quickly climbed the charts and dislodged The Beatles single ” Hey Jude ” from the Number One spot.
In the United Kingdom, the song entered the UK Singles Chart on the 10th of September 1968 and reached Number One, holding the top spot for six weeks. It spent eleven weeks in the Top Ten and a total of twenty-one weeks on the UK chart.
In the United States, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent fourteen weeks on the chart there.
The song went on to sell around four million copies worldwide and has been covered by other artists including Engelbert Humperdinck, Roger Whittaker and the Three Tenors.
Mary’s contract with Apple ended in the mid-1970s, producer Tony Visconti re-recorded both ” Those Were the Days ” and ” Goodbye “. Only these two later versions are found on compilations due to Apple never allowing original recordings to be used.

BillBoard Highest Chart Position: 2

UK Highest Chart Position: 1

Other Countries Highest Chart Positions: Switzerland 1, Germany 1, Austria 2, Netherlands 1, Belgium 1, Norway 1, Ireland 1

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