"Remember (Walking in the Sand)", also known as "Remember", is a song written by George "Shadow" Morton. It was originally recorded by the girl group The Shangri-Las, who had a top five hit with it in 1964. A cover by Aerosmith in 1980 was a minor hit. There have been many other versions of this song.
Morton was looking to break into the music business, and went to the Brill Building in New York City to see an old girlfriend, Ellie Greenwich, who had become a successful pop songwriter. Morton and Greenwich's writing partner, Jeff Barry, took a dislike to one another. Asked what he did for a living, Morton replied "I write songs", although he had never written one. When Barry asked him what kind, Morton retorted, "Hit songs!" Barry said he would love to hear one of Morton's tunes, and invited him to come back the following week with something.
Morton hired a teenage group from Queens, The Shangri-Las, to sing. Realizing that he did not have a song yet, he immediately wrote "Remember (Walking in the Sand)". There are several stories as to how it was written. One is that immediately upon his realization of not having a song, he stopped his car on the spot next to the ocean beach and there wrote the song. The song contains recurring seagulls-and-surf sound effects. He used The Shangri-Las on the demo, which he himself produced. (A not-yet-famous Billy Joel is said by Morton to have played the piano chords that open the song.) Jeff Barry was impressed and Red Bird Records picked up the song for release and signed Morton and The Shangri-Las to contracts. According to some accounts, the original version was nearly seven minutes long. In order to fit the AM radio format of the time, the song had to be cut in length, but rather than edit it, Morton simply faded it out after 2:10. In another version Morton presents the demo to various Red Bird staffers, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Artie Butler and others and they and some session musicians (including drummer Gary Chester) took the demo into the studio where it became, "a whole other record."
The song was released as the debut single by The Shangri-Las on Red Bird Records and became a number five hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and number nine on the Cashbox R&B chart. It also hit number fourteen on the UK Singles Chart, and became more successful in the UK when reissued on several occasions in the 1970s. As noted above, Billy Joel, an unknown working as a session musician at the time, played piano on the original demo recording of the song and has playfully claimed that Morton failed to pay him his $67 union scale fee for the performance. The Shangri-Las' recording placed #395 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2004.
In the early 1970s, Buddah Records released a "Radio Active Gold" oldies 45 containing an undubbed version of the demo (no echo or sound effects). This version is timed at 2:17, and the intro is the "Remember..." chorus without Mary Weiss' lead vocal. This version (the technical term for it is an underdub) first appeared on a 1969 Buddah compilation album entitled Incense and Oldies, along with an alternate version of "Give Him a Great Big Kiss".
Aerosmith released a more rock oriented cover version of the song featuring uncredited backing vocals by Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las as a single in 1980. Released on Columbia Records it was taken from the group's sixth studio album Night in the Ruts and was also included on their Greatest Hits album. Aerosmith's cover was co-produced by Gary Lyons. It charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 67. It also peaked at number 29 on the Canadian RPM singles chart in March 1980.
In 1965, the song was also covered by the New Zealand band Ray Columbus And The Invaders and released on the Australian Zodiac label. As they didn't have access to sound effects of seagulls like the original, the guitar player improvised and scraped his guitar pick across the strings to make the sound of seagulls crying.