Wait a moment… that’s not from Elvis?
With a discography from over 800 songs, Elvis Presley has recorded lots of songs. Many of those songs became hits, but there are quite some hit versions which originally were not sung by Elvis…
Always On My Mind, written by Johnny Christopher, Wayne Carson Thompson and Mark James, was a big hit for Elvis Presley. In the UK, it was a number 9 hit for him, but the original was sung by Brenda Lee, who did not have a hit with the song. Later, it was covered by Willie Nelson and the Pet Shop Boys (who had a number 1 hit with the song). Mark James made the original of another big Elvis hit: Suspicious Minds. Though his version flopped (for uncertain reasons), Elvis heard that it could be a hit and recorded it. It would be his last number 1 hit.
A song which you immediately identify with Elvis is Blue Suede Shoes. However, the original was not his song. Elvis toured with Johnny Cash and the writer of the song, Carl Perkins, who sung the original. He recorded it, but as his brother died in a car crash, he was unable to promote the song. Elvis recorded a cover and the rest is history. Another Elvis classic is Hound Dog. The original by blues singer Big Mama Thornton is largely forgotten, as it dates back to 1953, and is different from the Elvis version. He took the performance from Freddie Bell and The Bell Boys, covered it, and made Hound Dog a number 1 hit.
The song Green Green Grass Of Home, which was made famous by Tom Jones, was another song Elvis covered. The original was recorded by Johnny Darrell, but Tom Jones got the inspiration for his cover from Jerry Lee Lewis. And then Elvis covered it, just like he covered Girls! Girls! Girls! The original recording was made by the Coasters, but Elvis had the hit, as he used it in a faster version in the movie with the same name.
Blue Moon of Kentucky, the song that was written by Bill Monroe, was made famous by Elvis. It was on the B-side of his first single, and established the genre Rockabilly (a mixture of country, blues and a fast tempo). A little closer to the original was the song It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’, which was written and sung by Johnny Tillotson. The song was the only hit for Johnny, and for a change, it was not a hit for Elvis! Wooden Heart (Muss I Denn), a song by Joe Dowell, was a hit for Elvis. Actually, just his version stayed and the original was forgotten.
However, the discography of Elvis also contains quite some songs which are obviously covered, but of which you never would have thought Elvis also recorded them.
Bridge Over Troubled Water, the song which was made famous by Simon & Garfunkel, was one of them. This to proove Elvis was a good vocalist, as some doubted that. Paul Simon reacted that it was nice to have a song covered by Elvis, but he felt Aretha Franklin’s version did more to him. He would have liked to hear more gospel material, as his gospel albums sounded very good. On one of them is a version of You’ll Never Walk Alone, originally by Gerry & the Pacemakers.
Several songs became famous for their live versions. My Way by Frank Sinatra was added to the concerts at the end of his career, the song Words by the Bee Gees some earlier (a version can be heard on Elvis at the International Hotel),
The Beatles were covered no less than three times! Lady Madonna, Hey Jude and Yesterday were all covered by Elvis, although you can ask yourself if all were necessary (especially Hey Jude…). Another of those songs includes Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, which never did a lot in charts. Neil probably did not think much of it, as he liked Frank Sinatra’s cover the best.
The Righteous Brothers were covered two times by Elvis. The songs You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling and Unchained Melody were both recorded by Elvis. The last was recorded only six weeks before his death!
What would be a career without a Christmas album? Elvis recorded several, and on one of them, he covers the song White Christmas from Bing Crosby.
Well, two more songs. The Last Farewell by Roger Whittaker, for example, was also recorded by Elvis, in 1976. But let’s end with a cover which is maybe better than the original (though that’s difficult to say). The song Solitaire by the Carpenters was sung by Elvis, and he probably would have recognized himself in the text.
Of course, these are just some of his covers. In fact, he did many, many, many more, but I tried to make a nice selection for you.
Posted on January 8, 2016, in Articles Archive and tagged always on my mind, blue moon of kentucky, blue suede shoes, bridge over troubled water, cover, elvis presley, girls! girls! girls!, green green grass of home, hit, suspicious minds, wooden heart. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.