One of my work colleagues had this Elvis Presley video which I couldn’t identify, though it looked as though it was from one of his movies, none of which I’ve ever seen. Yet the tune was irritatingly familiar. Dustbury identified the video as No More from the soundtrack to Blue Hawaii.
That made sense, he noted, because it came out right after Elvis had an enormous hit with It’s Now or Never, an English rewrite of O Sole Mio, the “globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898.” Its lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro and the music was composed by Eduardo di Capua. Aaron Schroeder, Wally Gold, and di Capua are credited on It’s Now or Never.
Here are a few examples of when Elvis borrowed from classical music; compare and contrast.
Don Robertson, credited as the co-composer of No More with Hal Blair, said he based it on the Italian tune La Paloma. But in fact Sebastián Yradier was a Spanish Basque composer who wrote this habanera around 1860 after a visit to Cuba. It is, “together with Yesterday by The Beatles,… one of the most recorded songs in the history of music.”
From this list of Elvis songs, I checked who was cited for writing Love Me Tender, since it was based on what I thought was an old folk tune, Aura Lee. It’s credited to Elvis Presley; Vera Matson (pseudonym of Ken Darby, uncredited – what’s THAT all about?); and George R. Poulton (1828–1867), who was “a musician and composer, best known for composing the tune to Aura Lea.” (I’ve seen it spelled both ways.)
Of course, Aura Lee has often been rewritten. When we were kids, the lyrics were:
If you must take medicine
Take it orally
That’s because the other way
Is more painfully