As I’ve noted before, my father really hated Elvis. He resented this white artist stealing/exploiting/ profiting from performing black music. (But then half of the musicians in the ’50s and ’60s from Pat Boone to Led Zeppelin “borrowed” from black music). So I never owned any Elvis music as a child or teenager. Still, I did like some of his songs. So I watched the ’68 “comeback special” and became grudgingly, a mild fan.
I’ve written about Elvis a few times. But I never pegged my favorite songs because he would have turned 70 after I started this blog. The chart action refers to the Billboard (US) singles charts.
12. Blue Suede Shoes (#20 in 1956)- great song by Carl Perkins, but I prefer his original, which might have made Perkins a bigger star if he hadn’t gotten into a serious car crash.
11. Are You Lonesome To-night? (#1 for 6 weeks in 1960) – I’m not that fond of songs that involve people talking. This is one exception, mostly because “You know someone said that the world’s a stage And each must play a part” always cracks me up. “Someone” said? That was Billy Shakes!
10. All Shook Up (#1 for 9 weeks in 1957) – particularly love the vocal delivery: “Well-a bless-a my soul”
9. Suspicious Minds (#1 in 1969) – Elvis in his comeback mode being relevant.
8. A Little Less Conversation – with JXL (#50 in 2002). I had never heard the original from the 1960s, which was a minor hit.
7. Don’t Be Cruel (#1 for #11 weeks in 1956 with Hound Dog) – the opening guitar lick and the backup singers make this for me.
6. Love Me Tender (#1 for 5 weeks in 1956). There’s a traditional song called
Aura Lee from which this tune was stolen; at some level, I appreciated the audacity of that.
5. Return to Sender (#2 for 5 weeks in 1962). This is the period I really started discovering Elvis. And I like the historical reference in the song, “No such zone”, just a year before ZIP Codes were implemented for delivering mail in the United States.
4. Little Sister (#5 in 1961). I might have heard a cover of this first and tracked it back to the original.
3. Heartbreak Hotel (#1 for 8 weeks in 1956) this is SO much a blues piece. Listen to the guitar line.
2. Hound Dog (#1 for #11 weeks in 1956 with Don’t Be Cruel). Poor Elvis got to sing this to an actual hound dog on Steve Allen’s show. I always appreciate a great cover, and this take on Big Mama Thorton’s song is transformative.
1. Jailhouse Rock (#1 for 7 weeks in 1957). I’m sure my affection has as much to do with the choreography from the movie as the song’s appeal.