Elvis Presley (part 2)
In part one on the King (born January 8, 1935) I stuck to songs he had covered and recorded in 1956. With August 16 coming up, being the anniversary of his untimely passing (August 16, 1977) I will honour his music and will wander outside of 1956.
I will have little trouble finding cover songs that I have not mentioned, even though including the one dedicated issue, I have cited and inserted Elvis songs throughout at least a dozen posts. There are just so many to choose from, since that first post just over a year ago Secondhandsongs.com has added more cover songs that Elvis recorded, it was 485 and it now stands at 507.
During the time Elvis was making a string of movies (1964-66) his recording releases were largely dedicated to songs from those films. Unless you are an Elvis fanatic you may not know that an album was released in 1999 of ‘home’ recordings from 1964-67. Some of the songs are just Elvis solo, several were used for a later Gospel album and other songs include an ensemble such as “500 Miles“. It’s a folk favorite written by Hedy West first recorded by “The Journeymen” (John Phillips, Scott McKenzie and Dick Weissman) in 1961. This song was based on the words and melody from this traditional folk song, the first recording is called “I’m Nine Hundred Miles from Home” by Fiddlin’ John Carson (1924).
Just how far back can we go to find a connection to a song Elvis covered? So far (that I’ve found at least) it is “Love Me Tender” as it’s roots go back to 1861 and you can check it out my Love Songs post. But here is another, “The Gospel Train” or “Get On Board” is a traditional gospel song dating back to at least 1872. Here are the Tuskegee Institute Singers (1916). Based on this same melody is “Cindy” by Riley Puckett and Clayton McMichen, first recorded in 1927. Hope you are following along OK, now a song based on that melody was recorded as “Cindy Cindy” (words and music by Darrell Fuller, Buddy Kaye and Ben Weisman) by Elvis in 1971.
In an earlier post I talked about Aretha’s cover (1971) of “Bridge over Troubled Water’ from Simon and Garfunkel (January 26, 1970) but Elvis , and an astounding 52 other artists did a cover of this in that first year (1970) alone.
As with “Hound Dog” originally from Willie Mae Thornton albeit via Freddie Bell and The Bellboys, Elvis (on a somewhat rare occasion) would cover songs from female artists. “Dark Moon” from Bonnie Guitar (written by Ned Miller) was another of those home recordings by Elvis from 1966/7. Check out this clip from ‘Big Mama’ Thornton, “Everything Gonna Be Alright” and you will hear why she came to people’s attention beyond “Hound Dog”, she was an incredible talent who was unfortunately much overlooked in her time.
Trivia. The Queen song “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1979) was written by Freddie Mercury in about 10 minutes while lounging in a bath. It was a tribute to Elvis. It was the first time Freddie composed a song using a guitar which he admittedly “couldn’t play for nuts” and the band completed and recorded the song in half an hour. It went to #1 in the US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands and sold close to 3 million copies worldwide. A great cover by the very talented Dwight Yoakam the closest thing to a legit ‘Country Elvis’ you’ll ever find, he hit #1 on the Canadian Country chart in 1999.
Interesting fact that top ranked (Rolling Stone Magazine) music icons Elvis (#3), Aretha Franklin (#9) and Robert Johnson (fifth greatest guitarist) all passed away on August 16,
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