This is the original site of information about original versions of numbers recorded by Elvis Presley, which I began in about 1995. Other sites have copied it, some have translated it, but this site is the one that is best maintained. This list only includes numbers that were recorded by someone before Elvis's own version: it does not include numbers that Elvis recorded first. If you have any information or comments, contact me.
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Wasted Years recorded by Elvis on Friday, 14 December 1973;One-liner
Written by: Fowler
Originally recorded by Oak Ridge Quartet in 1960
Hear Elvis's version on: Essential Elvis Vol.5 (Elvis Rhythm And Country)
Elvis sings just the first line of this Wally Fowler-penned number, just prior to take 3 of "Talk About The Good Times." The Oak Ridge Quartet was formed by Wally Fowler (real name John Wallace Fowler) himself in the 1940s when he turned to Gospel music, but he sold the rights to the name in 1957 to a group member, as payment for a debt. The Quartet included the original recording of "Wasted Years" on their 1960 LP "The Oak Ridge Quartet" (Checker LP1002). In 1961, the group changed their name to The Oak Ridge Boys. "Wasted Years" was also recorded at about the same time by the Sons Of Song, and their recording is significant, being the first Nashville recording to use an Echoplex (a tape delay echo chamber) to create a fluttering sound on an electric guitar, though the effect is very exaggerated on this number.
We'll Be Together recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 23 May 1962 (?);Studio
Written by: O'Curran; Brooks
Originally recorded by Señor R. Herrera Robinson in 1904
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features
The melody of "We'll Be Together" is, in fact, that of an old Mexican or Californian folk song, called "Carmen Carmela" (also called "Carmen Carmella"). The number was first recorded in 1904, probably May or June, by Rafael Herrera Robinson and released on Edison cylinder number 18526 in June 1905. Fred Waring recorded the tune with what are probably the first English lyrics on 19 February 1951, not as "We'll Be Together," but instead as "Tulips And Heather," with words (totally different) and music (just the same) by Milton Carson. "Milton Carson" was a pseudonym for the British composing team of Harold Fields, Howard Barnes and Joseph Roncoroni. Although Elvis's version uses both English and Spanish lyrics, these match neither the "Carson" lyrics, nor those of the true original, "Carmen Carmela." Although O'Curran and Brooks are indicated as the writers on Elvis's releases, they had nothing to do with the original. Indeed, a plethora of writers can be found as supposedly responsible for the number; perhaps the best would be to regard this number as truly "Traditional." The date upon which Elvis recorded his version is also something of a mystery, for although it seems to have indeed been recorded at about the same time as the rest of the "Girls! Girls! Girls!" soundtrack, the exact date is not known—even Jorgensen's "A Life In Music" simply states, "Unknown." (Tunzi gives 23 May 1962 in his "Elvis Sessions III." Extended information regarding "We'll Be Together."
We're Gonna Move recorded by Elvis on Friday, 24 August 1956;Studio
Written by: Matson; Presley
Originally recorded by Bells Of Joy in 1951
Hear Elvis's version on: Jailhouse Rock (with Love Me Tender)
Vera Matson and Elvis himself are credited for this number, but it seems likely that neither had a great deal to do with its real origins. The musical director of the film "Love Me Tender," Ken Darby, wrote this along with the other three numbers in the film (one of which was "Love Me Tender," a reworking of "Aura Lee"), but gave the credit to his wife (Matson) and Elvis. Elvis might well have known a gospel called "Leak In This Old Building," which was released in January 1953 on Peacock 1708 by the Bells Of Joy. It seems likely, however, given the matrix number (ACA 2013), that the track was recorded some two years earlier, in October 1951. "Leak In This Old Building" is certainly more than the inspiration for "We're Gonna Move"—same tune and much the same words, too! Authorship is a mystery, as the Bells Of Joy's label indicates "A. C. Littlefield," whereas Brother Claude Ely's later 1953 release of the song on the King label credits himself. (Note that another song with the title "There's A Leak In This Old Building" was recorded by the Southern Sons in 1941, but this is a very different number.)
Welcome To My World recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 14 January 1973;Studio
Written by: Winkler; Hathcock
Originally recorded by Jim Reeves in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite
Jim Reeves was born in 1923. A "singing disk-jockey," he turned to a full-time singing career in about 1949, but his big break came in 1952 when he stood in for Hank Williams, who had failed to turn up for a show. He became hugely successful in the USA and around the world (especially in South Africa, where he also recorded in Afrikaans). Jim Reeves died on 31 July 1964 when the plane he was piloting crashed outside Nashville during a storm. Reeves' original version of "Welcome To My World" was recorded in November 1961 and released in April 1962 as part of his "A Touch Of Velvet" album on RCA Victor, LPM-2487/LSP-2487.
What A Friend We Have In Jesus recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 28 August 1973;Studio
Written by: Scriven; Converse
Originally recorded by J. J. Fisher in 1899
Hear Elvis's version on: Take These Chains From My Heart (unofficial CD)
Joseph M. Scriven wrote this number as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother when he was in the USA and she was still in Ireland. Originally published anonymously, it was almost 30 years before Scriven received credit for his work. The version by J. J. Fisher had probably already been released on a brown wax cylinder, but in about 1902 it was transferred to the improved hard black wax cylinders of the Edison Gold Moulded Record series and released under number 7014; this same number was used for a cylinder of the same song, sung by James F. Harrison. The tune usually used with this hymn is "Erie," written by Charles C. Converse and is the same tune used for the World War I favourite "When This Bloody War Is Over"! Elvis's version is a brief extract, sung during a concert in Las Vegas. The CD on which it is found lists the track as "My Boy/Take These Chains From My Heart/My Boy." The "My Boy" extracts are one-liners and the song between them and indicated as "Take These Chains..." is, in fact, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus." (An earlier Edison cylinder recording of what are described as "church chimes" was made in 1897 or 1898, but this is presumably a field recording only.)
What Now My Love recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 14 January 1973;Studio
Written by: Becaud; Sigman
Originally recorded by Gilbert Bécaud in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite; The Home Recordings
French giant of the chanson, Gilbert Bécaud, known as "Monsieur 100,000 Volts," wrote and recorded the original version of "What Now My Love" in its original French, as "Et Maintenant," in 1961. Bécaud was born in Toulon on 24 October, 1927. His musical education was interrupted when he joined the French Resistance during the Second World War. In 1948 he began writing songs, and in 1953, at the encouragement of Edith Piaf, he also turned to singing. Jane Morgan had already had a successful hit with an English-language cover of Bécaud's "Le Jour Où La Pluie Viendra" ("The Day The Rains Came") in 1958 and in 1962 she repeated the process when she recorded the original English-language version of "What Now My Love" with lyrics by Carl Sigman. Gilbert Bécaud died on 18 December, 2001. In addition to his frequent on-stage performances, Elvis made a home recording of the song in 1966 and that version can be found on "The Home Recordings."
What'd I Say recorded by Elvis on Friday, 30 August 1963;Studio
Written by: Charles
Originally recorded by Ray Charles in 1959
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Gold Records Volume 4; Collectors Gold—Live In Las Vegas
Ray Charles fills many roles: singer, composer, pianist and arranger. Born in Albany, Georgia, on 23 September, 1930, as Ray Charles Robinson, he suffered from congenitive juvenile glaucoma as a child and was completely blind by the age of seven. Despite this, he learned to read and write music and to play several instruments by the time he was 15. His recording career began in 1949, gaining major success in 1954 with "I Got A Woman" (see above). He recorded the original version of "What'd I Say" on 18 February, 1959, and it was released as a single on Atlantic 2031. Ray Charles died in June 2004.
When God Dips His Love In My Heart recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956;Informal
Written by: Derricks; Stevenson
Originally recorded by The Blackwood Brothers in 1946
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
Elvis's 70s bass singer, the late J.D. Sumner, was a member of the Blackwood Brothers from 1954 until 1965. The Blackwood Brothers group was formed as a quartet in 1934 and then consisted of three brothers, Roy, Doyle and James together with R.W. Blackwood, Roy's son. In the late 1940s, the Blackwoods recorded numerous tracks on the White Church label. One of the earliest of these recordings was "When God Dips His Love In My Heart," dating from 1946 and released on White Church 1043. Hank Williams and Red Foley also recorded the number. Both Foley and the Daniel Sisters & Otis McCoy recorded this gospel song in 1949. Foley's was probably the very first country gospel hit, but it seems that the Daniel Sisters & Otis McCoy actually made the first recording in June 1949, released on Columbia 20658. Hank Williams' recording dates from late 1950.
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 11 June 1958;Studio
Written by: Olcott; Graft Jr.; Ball
Originally recorded by Chauncey Olcott in 1913
Hear Elvis's version on: Essential Elvis Vol.3
Just a very brief one-line burst of this song by Elvis at the end of the first take of "I Got Stung," made in the very early hours of the morning of 11 June (the session had started the previous day). An Irish song? Hardly. The lyrics were written towards the end of the 19th century by Chancellor (Chauncey) Alcott—born in Buffalo, New York—and George Graff Jr., a German. The music was provided by Ernest Ball, a native of Cleveland, Ohio. The song was put together for Ball and Olcott's 1912 musical play, "The Isle O' Dreams," in which it was sung by Olcott himself. In the following year Alcott made the first recorded version.
When It Rains, It Really Pours recorded by Elvis on November, 1955;Studio
Written by: Emerson
Originally recorded by William Robert "Billy The Kid" Emerson in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis For Everyone; The Complete 50's Masters 1
William Robert Emerson was born on 21 December, 1929, in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Having learned the piano, he played in a number of local groups and earned the nickname "Billy The Kid" because the members of one of those groups dressed as outlaws. He joined the Sun label in 1954 and whilst there recorded his own composition, "When It Rains, It Pours" (note the absence of the word "really"). Although recorded in 1955 and handed over to RCA as part of the deal when they bought Elvis from Sun, "When It Rains It Really Pours" was not issued until the "Elvis For Everyone" in 1965, in a version that included overdubbed instruments. The original take was first released on "Elvis: A Legendary Performer Vol.4".
When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 2 September 1956;Studio
Written by: Walker; Sullivan
Originally recorded by Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan in 1941
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Rock 'n' Roll no.2); The Complete 50's Masters 2
Elvis cuts this number considerably by omitting two verses. The original version was not a success, but in 1944 Cindy Walker reached number 5 in the national charts.
When The Saints Go Marchin' In recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956;Studio
Written by: Purvis; Black
Originally recorded by Paramount Jubilee Singers in 1923
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session; Double Features: Frankie and Johnny; Paradise, Hawaiian Style
It is strange that the origins of a song so well-known as "When The Saints Go Marching In" should be shrouded in so much mystery, but very little is known of just that song. It seems to have been published twice in 1896, once with J. M. Black indicated as the composer, and once as having the words written by Katherine Purvis, with music by Black. Some doubt exists, however, as to whether this is, in fact, the same song as the one we know today. Probably, the song is older and might even have originated in the Bahamas. In any case, the first recorded version of a number recognisable to us as "When The Saints" was made in 1923 by the Paramount Jubilee Singers and released on Paramount 12073, with the title, "When All The Saints Come Marching In." Elvis sung along on this "traditional" gospel number with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis during the Million Dollar Quartet jam session at the Sun Studios in December 1956. It would be almost 10 years, however, before he recorded a more secular version of the number for the soundtrack of the film "Frankie and Johnny," where it was coupled with "Down By The Riverside."
When The Snow Is On The Roses recorded by Elvis on Monday, 24 August 1970;Studio
Written by: Bader; Last; Kusik; Snyder
Originally recorded by Sonja Stadlin in 1967
Hear Elvis's version on: Live In Las Vegas
Sonja Stadlin (also known as Sonja Salvis) recorded the original version of this tune as "Der Weg ins Land der Liebe" in 1966 or early 1967, releasing it on the Ariola 19366 AT. Larry Kusik and Eddie Snyder provided the English words to James Last's music and Ed Ames went on to record the original English language version of "When The Snow Is On The Roses" in 1967. Released as a single, it just squeezed into the Cashbox Top 100 in November 1967, though reached number 1 on the Adult Contemporary (easy listening) chart that same month. Elvis sings just a couple of lines this number on one of the CDs of the Live In Las Vegas box set. Despite singing just two lines of the first verse (and then repeating the same lines), it's clearly a song he likes a lot and fits well into his "melancholy" phase. Roy Drusky included the number on his 1968 "Jody And The Kid" LP.
Can you provide a date for Sonja Stadlin's recording?contact me.
When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano recorded by Elvis on ?, 1960;Informal
Written by: Rene
Originally recorded by Ceelle Burke and Rhythmettes in 1940
Hear Elvis's version on: In A Private Moment
In 1939, songwriter Leon Rene was listening to the radio one morning when he heard the announcer say the swallows were about to arrive at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. He got the idea for a song and wrote "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano." Leon Rene was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1902 (some sources list Covington, Louisiana). He moved to Los Angeles with his older brother, Otis, in 1922 and founded the record companies Exclusive Records and Excelsior Records. They produced such artists as Nat "King" Cole, Johnny Otis, and Joe Liggins and His Honeydrippers. The brothers were the first owners of an independent record company on the west coast of the USA, and also owned publishing companies. Leon Rene died in 1982. Ceelle Burke's original recording of "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano" was made in April 1940 and released on a number of labels, including Ammor 111 and Exclusive 102. A host of other artists recorded the number in the coming months, including The Ink Spots, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, and Gene Autry. Elvis's version is an informal home recording, never intended for release.
Where Could I Go But To The Lord recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 28 May 1966;Studio
Written by: Coats
Originally recorded by Harmoneers Quartet in 1945
Hear Elvis's version on: How Great Thou Art; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
This number again poses the problem of what is an original. K. E. Harvis and J. M. Black wrote the "original" in 1890, but J. B. Coats rewrote the song and published it for the first time in 1940 in a collection entitled, "Golden Key" as "Where Could I Go?" The Harmoneers Quartet recorded the original version of this gospel number on 27 November, 1945 and their recording was released as the B-side of a single on RCA Victor 20-1816, under the title, "Where Could I Go!" (note the exclamation mark in place of the question mark). Southern gospel pioneers the Harmoneers Quartet were formed in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1943 by Fred C. Maples and Charles Key. The Harmoneers Quartet recorded primarily for RCA Victor from 1945 until 1952, though during the war years they also made a number of recordings for the Quartet label, under the name of the Maple Leaf Quartet. The career of the group spanned over four decades and numerous record labels.
Where Do I Go From Here recorded by Elvis on Monday, 27 March 1972;Studio
Written by: Williams
Originally recorded by Paul Williams in 1971
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Fool)
Writer Paul Williams' own recording of this number was first issued on his "Life Goes On" LP, released by A&M in 1972 (SP4367). The number reappeared in the 1974 Clint Eastwood film, "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot."
Where No One Stands Alone recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 26 May 1966;Studio
Written by: Lister
Originally recorded by Statesmen Quartet in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: How Great Thou Art; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
Despite having been tone deaf at a young age, Mosie Lister was studying harmony and composition by the time he was seventeen. By the late 1940s, Lister was writing gospel songs for numerous well-known gospel groups and when the Statesmen (founded in 1948 by Hovie Lister, no relation) used him as an arranger in 1948, Lister introduced harmony techiques that are still in use today in this type of music. Lister was actually the first lead singer for the Statesmen Quartet until he decided to leave in order to concentrate on other aspects of the gospel music business. Lister composed many well known gospels, including "His Hand In Mine" and "He Knows Just What I Need," both recorded by Elvis. The Statesmen's recording of "Where No One Stands Alone" was released first on their own Statesmen label, as the B-side of record number 1061 ("Some Glad Day" was the A-side). Full recording credits were shown as, "The Statesmen Quartet Featuring: Doy Ott With Hovie Lister, Piano.
White Christmas recorded by Elvis on Friday, 6 September 1957;Studio
Written by: Berlin
Originally recorded by Bing Crosby in 1942
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Christmas Album; The Complete 50's Masters 3
Bing Crosby recorded the original version of "White Christmas" on 29 May, 1942, together with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers. This recording was released as part of the "Holiday Inn" album of songs, Decca Album No. A-306, consisting of six discs. In the film "Holiday Inn," the song was sung as a duet, and won an Academy Award as Best Original Song for Irving Berlin, its writer. Because of damage to the master recording, Crosby rerecorded "White Christmas" on 18 March, 1947, with the same prchestra and backing group. This is the version most often heard nowadays. The song featured again in a Bing Crosby film, this time in "White Christmas" in 1954. Elvis's version is nothing like the Crosby interpretation, being much closer to the Drifters' 1955 recording.
Who Am I? recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 22 February 1969;Studio
Written by: Goodman
Originally recorded by The Inspirations in 1964
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace
Charles "Rusty" Goodman wrote numerous popular contemporary gospels during his relatively brief life: he was born in September 1933 and died in November 1990. He recorded this number with his own group, "The Happy Goodmans," in 1967, but the original dates from 1964, when The Inspirations, a southern Gospel group, released it as a track on their LP "Just As Long As Eternity Rolls." The Inspirations were formed in 1964 as a quartet. The group has seen numerous personnel changes since then, but continues to perform more than forty years after its formation.
Who's Sorry Now? recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 28 May 1958;Informal
Written by: Snyder; Kalmar; Ruby
Originally recorded by Bob Thompson in 1923
Hear Elvis's version on: Forever Young, Forever Beautiful (unofficial release)
Numerous recordings of "Who's Sorry Now" were made in 1923, but the first seems to have been by Bob Thompson, made sometime in January of that year, for the Cameo label, with matrix number 399. An exact recording date cannot be found, but the Arthur Lange and His Orchestra version, made on 13 February 1923, also for Cameo, has matrix 423, whereas the Bob Thompson recording has matrix 399. Confusingly, the catalogue numbers are Cameo 350 for the Bob Thompson version and Cameo 321 for the Arthur Lange recording, so they seem to have been released in reverse order of recording. Lange's version is pureley orchestral, whereas Thompson's is a vocal rendition of the number. The unofficial release features Elvis's then girlfriend Anita Wood singing, with Elvis accompanying her on piano. The recording was made during a visit by Elvis to Eddie Fadal's home in Waco, Texas, during Elvis's early priod in the army.
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 22 September 1970;Studio
Written by: Williams; David
Originally recorded by Big Maybelle in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: I'm 10,000 Years Old: Elvis Country; Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
Mabel Louise Smith wasn't joking when she recorded "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" some time before Jerry Lee Lewis—she weighed a hefty 250 pounds. Big Maybelle, as she was professionally known, was plagued with drug-related problems and died in 1972 aged 48. The studio band that accompanied Big Maybelle on her recording of "Whole Lotta…" was led by Quincy Jones. Several other artists released their versions of the number before Jerry Lee made it his own with his 1957 Sun recording.
Why Me Lord recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 20 March 1974;Studio
Written by: Kristofferson
Originally recorded by Kris Kristofferson in 1972
Hear Elvis's version on: Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis; Amazing Grace (CD 2)
Former Golden Gloves boxer Kris Kristofferson turned down an offer to teach at the USA military academy at West Point and instead moved to Nashville to become a country musician. A big fan of Willie Nelson, he became one of the on-and-off group "The Highwaymen," along with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Nelson himself. Kristofferson's version appeared on his LP "Jesus Was A Capricorn" with the title "Why Me." Elvis recorded several Kristofferson numbers, including "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "For The Good Times." (Note that the number, "Why Me," recorded by The Thrasher Brothers in 1971 and featured on their LP "Now Hear This" is a different song.)
Wings Of An Angel (The Prisoner's Song) recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 17 January 1968;Informal
Written by: Massey
Originally recorded by Vernon Dalhart in 1924
Hear Elvis's version on: Wings of an Angel (unofficial release, Angel Records EP 10005)
Dalhart was born Marion Try Slaughter on 6 April, 1883,in Jefferson, Texas. As a teenager he helped to drive cattle between the Texan towns of Vernon and Dalhart, hence his professional name. After moving to New York, Dalhart received vocal training and started appearing in light operas and operettas. However, as this field became less popular, he tried other singing opportunities, making records in a more commercial vein. He recorded the original version of "The Prisoner's Song" on 13 August, 1924, with Carson Robinson providing guitar accompaniment. Released as the B-side of his Victor recording of "Wreck of the Old 97" (Victor 19427). Vernon Dalhart's version of "The Prisoner's Song" became enormously popular and helped make the single country-music's first million-seller. It went on to be issued on many different labels.
Winter Wonderland recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 16 May 1971;Studio
Written by: Smith; Bernard
Originally recorded by Richard Himber and His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra in 1934
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas; If Every Day Was Like Christmas
Several version of "Winter Wonderland" were released in 1934. Most sources refer to the Guy Lombardo version, made on 29 October, as the first, but Richard Himber recorded the number several days earlier, on 23 October (Victor 24757) with Joey Nash providing the vocal lead. Richard Himber and his orchestra were very popular with the high society of New York during the 1930s and 1940s, playing at the most prestigious hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton, and spreading their popularity throughout the USA through their radio broadcasts. Listening to Elvis sing this number, I can't help but feel that he is bored out of his mind and probably wondering why he can't do another take of "Merry Christmas, Baby" instead.
Witchcraft recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 26 May 1963;Studio
Written by: Bartholomew; King
Originally recorded by The Spiders in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Gold Records Volume 4; From Nashville to Memphis (2)
A number 5 US R&B hit in 1955. The name of the group The Spiders was the inspiration for the name of Buddy Holly's group, The Crickets. Well, it was unless you believe the story of the insect that was chirping along with Buddy and his group during a recording session one day in Norman Petty's studio. Anyway, The Beatles (remember them?), continued the tradition, and a few more insecty groups: The Cockroaches (Liverpool, early 1960s), The Boll Weevils (Birmingham, early 1960s) and Adam and The Ants, who at least enjoyed some recording success in the 1980s. Elvis recorded two different songs with this title; see the next entry.
Witchcraft recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 26 March 1960;Studio
Written by: Leigh; Coleman
Originally recorded by Frank SInatra in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville to Memphis (5)
In 1957, Gerry Matthews recorded an song titled "Witchcraft" that was issued on the LP of the revue "Take Five." This number, however, bears no resemblance to the song by Leigh and Coleman. Frank Sinatra therefore takes the honours for having recorded the first vocal version, which he did on 20 May, 1957. The recording was released as a single on Capitol 17069. Elvis sang this number on the Frank Sinatra TV show "Welcome Home, Elvis" as Frank sang along with "Love Me Tender."
With A Song In My Heart recorded by Elvis on Friday, 14 May 1965;Informal
Written by: Rodgers; Hart
Originally recorded by Leo Reisman and His Orchestra in 1929
Hear Elvis's version on: Real Fun On Stage... And In The Studio
Introduced by John Hundley and Lillian Taiz in the 1929 stage musical "Spring is Here." The song has since been used in a number of Hollywood musicals, perhaps the most famous being... "With A Song In My Heart" (the Jane Froman story) in 1952. Reisman recorded his version on 18 March, 1929 (Victor 21923) with Ran Weeks as vocalist. Leo Reisman was born in Boston, Massachussetts, in 1897, and soon became an accomplished violinist and piano player. Although he was first violinist with the Baltimore Symphony orchestra, he left classical music to form his own dance band, playing in hotels and touring the country before settling in 1919 at the Hotel Brunswick in Boston for ten years, where it played for the local high society. In 1929 the band moved to the Central Park Casino in New York and then to the Waldorf-Astoria for a considerable time. Big names associated with the band include pianists Nat Brandwynne and Eddy Duchin, and vocalists Lee Wiley, Fred Astaire and Dinah Shore. Reisman died in December 1961.
Without A Song recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 9 January 1971;Studio
Written by: Rose; Eliscu; Youmans
Originally recorded by B. A. Rolfe and His Lucky Strike Orchestra in 1929
Hear Elvis's version on: Platinum: A Life In Music (CD 4)
The song was written by Billy Rose, Edward Eliscu and Vincent Youmans for the 1929 stage production, "Great Day." It was sung on stage by Lois Deppe And The Jubilee Singers. B. A. Rolfe was born in 1879 and played piccolo and cornet at a very young age with his father's band. He became known as "The Boy Trumpet Wonder" and toured in America and Europe. In 1915 he formed his own motion picture production company, Rolfe Photoplays Inc., but left that business to return to the world of music as a solo artist and vaudeville producer. In 1926 he formed his own dance orchestra, the Palais d'Or Orchestra, and was soon performing on radio as B. A. Rolfe and His Lucky Strike Orchestra., under which name he also recorded for Edison. Rolfe made his original version of "Without A Song" on 17 September 1929 and it was released on Edison Diamond Disc number 14082. Although Elvis never recorded the song as such, he did read part of the lyrics during his acceptance speech, when he was presented an award as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men Of America by the Jaycees on 9 January, 1971.
Without Him recorded by Elvis on Friday, 27 May 1966;Studio
Written by: LeFevre
Originally recorded by The LeFevres in 1963
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace (CD1)
Mylon LeFevre wrote this powerful piece when he was just seventeen years old. The gospel group with which Mylon sang, the LeFevres, released the song on the LP "Without Him" on the Sing label (Sing MFLP 3210), probably in 1963, though some sources indicate 1961. Mylon also sang the song at the Gospel Quartet Convention in Memphis (date unknown), where Elvis happened to hear it and decided to record it himself. Mylon went on to be a rock star, with his own band, called the Atlanta Rhythm Section. He sold millions of records throughout the 1970s and Mylon lived the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll life to the full, overdosing on heroin and almost dying in 1973. He later quit the rock life and formed a modern gospel group, Broken Heart, which toured throughout the 1980s.
Without Love recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 23 January 1969;Studio
Written by: Small
Originally recorded by Clyde McPhatter in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Back In Memphis; From Nashville to Memphis (4)
Clyde McPhatter joined Billy Ward and the Dominoes in 1950, but left to form the Drifters in 1953: Elvis recorded the Drifters' "Money Honey." McPhatter recorded the original of "Without Love" on 10 October 1956 for the Atlantic label. Another McPhatter original recorded by Elvis is "Such A Night." McPhatter died on June 13, 1971; he was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Woman Without Love recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 12 March 1975;Studio
Written by: Chesnut
Originally recorded by Bob Luman in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: Today
Jerry Chesnut wrote a number of songs recorded by Elvis, including "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" and "Love Coming Down." Although Bob Luman had the original recording of "Woman Without Love," the first released version was by Johnny Darrell, whose version came out just three days before Luman's. Bob Luman was born in April 1937 in Nacogdoches, Texas. His early interest was in Country music and rocabilly. He appeared on the Lousisiana Hayride in 1956. Chart success evaded him, however, and he was thinking about quitting the music business to become a prefessional baseball player when, in 1959, he recorded "Let's Think About Living," which became a big hit and changed his mind. Luman died of pneumomia at just 41 years of age in 1978.
Wonderful World recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 7 March 1968;Studio
Written by: Fletcher; Flett
Originally recorded by Cliff Richard in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Live A Little, Love A Little/The Trouble With Girls
No, not the famous Louis Armstrong number, nor the similarly titled "It's A Wonderful World" from Elvis's film "Roustabout." Actually, this number was originally one of the preselections of the UK's 1968 Eurovision Song Contest entry. All six entries were sung by Cliff Richard, the winner being "Congratulations" (which went on to come second in the Eurovision Song Contest itself). "Wonderful World" came third in the preselections. Cliff recorded his version at the beginning of February, just five weeks before Elvis's cover. Strangely, the lyrics used by Elvis were very different to those sung by Cliff.
Wooden Heart recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 28 April 1960;Studio
Written by: Wise; Weisman; Twomey; Kaempfert
Originally recorded by Theodore Pusinelli & Hackert in 1901
Hear Elvis's version on: G.I. Blues
Every Elvis fan knows that "Wooden Heart" is also known as "Muss i denn." And, indeed, the number is based on a Swabian folk tune, an example of an Urbummellied or Abschiedslied, that is better known by its opening lyrics in Swabian dialect, "Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus." Elvis included several lines of the Swabian original in his recording of "Wooden Heart" as well as some new German lyrics. Swabia was a medieval duchy in what is now south-western Germany. The origins of the song are unknown, but it was first published in 1827 by Friedrich Silcher, a composer and collector of folk songs. Pusinelli and Hackert's version of "Muss i denn…" was recorded as a duet for clarinets and released as a 7-inch single-sided disk on Zonophone H9585. A possible earlier vocal version exists by Oskar Wagner, released on a brown wax cylinder, number 6701, at some time between 1890 and 1902.
Can you provide accurate recording dates for the Pusinelli & Hackert and the Oskar Wagner versions? (Note that the Cylinder Preservation Project is unable to do so for Wagner.)contact me.
Words recorded by Elvis on Monday, 25 August 1969;Studio
Written by: Gibb; Gibb; Gibb
Originally recorded by Bee Gees in 1967
Hear Elvis's version on: In Person
Gibb, Gibb, Gibb? Not an advert for Gibb's toothpaste (although on occasions they looked that way), but a trio of Australian brothers who made some surprisingly good records, writing many of their numbers themselves. Elvis liked their song "Words," and can be seen in TTWII rehearsing it over and over again. The exact date of Elvis's live recording, made during a Las Vegas performance, is hard to track down: some sources list 22 August, some 24 August and others 25 August. I'm going for 25 August, as the number was definitely used during the midnight show of the 24th, if you see what I mean...!
Working On The Building recorded by Elvis on Monday, 31 October 1960;Studio
Written by: Hoyle; Bowles
Originally recorded by Heavenly Gospel Singers in 1936
Hear Elvis's version on: His Hand In Mine; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
It is possible that someone other than the Heavenly Gospel Singers recorded the original version of this number, for it has appeared in printed form in various gospel songbooks since the early 1900s. The Heavenly Gospel Singers' version was recorded on 22 June 1936 as "I Am Working On The Building" on Bluebird 6636. At the time the group consisted of Jimmy "Gospel Jim" Bryant (bass), Hendson Massey (baritone), Fred Whitmore (tenor), and Roosevelt Fenoy (lead and manager).
Write To Me From Naples recorded by Elvis on ca. February 1966;Informal
Written by: Alstone; Kennedy
Originally recorded by Dean Martin in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: A Golden Celebration
Elvis, called by many the King of Rock'n'Roll, admired Dean Martin's singing style perhaps as much as anyone else's. He showed it on times, too, and the style is clear in this version of Martin's 1957 hit. Jimmy Kennedy, co-writer of this number, also wrote "Harbor Lights," one of Elvis's very first recordings.
Yellow Rose Of Texas recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 10 July 1963;Studio
Written by: J.K.
Originally recorded by Da Costa Woltz's Southern Broadcasters in 1927
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings Flaming Star; Double Features: Viva Las Vegas & Roustabout
It looks strange, but "J.K." really is the only way the composer of this number is known! The number was written in 1853 and became popular during the American Civil War as "The Gallant Hood of Texas"—a reference to Confederate General John Hood. The original recording of the song seems to have been made by Da Costa Woltz's Southern Broadcasters. Their May 1927 version (Gennett 6143) uses very similar lyrics to those with which we are familiar, but is only vaguely recognisable musically, in general being more a fiddle and banjo piece (follow the interesting link below to hear the whole piece). The two aspects of lyrics and tune, came together in the recording of the number made by Gene Autry in 1933. Mitch Miller had a six-week long Billboard Top 100 number one with his version in 1955. The number was sung by Elvis in a medley with "The Eyes of Texas" (see above) in the film "Love In Las Vegas" ("Viva Las Vegas" in the USA).
Yesterday recorded by Elvis on Monday, 25 August 1969;Studio
Written by: Lennon; McCartney
Originally recorded by The Beatles in 1965
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage
As with so many songs credited to both Lennon and McCartney, only one of the pair actually wrote "Yesterday," Paul McCartney. His working title was "Scrambled Eggs" and only he was in the studio when the number was recorded on 14 June, 1965 (the string quartet was added three days later), even though this recording was credited to The Beatles as a whole. The number first appeared on the LP "Help!", issued on Parlophone, number PMC 1255. The first hit version was sung by Matt Monro in 1965 in the UK.
You Asked Me To recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 11 December 1973;Studio
Written by: Jennings; Shaver
Originally recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1973
Hear Elvis's version on: Promised Land; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 4
Waylon Jennings was born in 1937. During his youth he became a friend of Buddy Holly and Holly produced his first single, "Jole Blon," in 1958. Jennings was on the same tour as Buddy when the latter was killed in a plane crash—Jennings had planned to travel in the plane with Buddy, but allowed the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) to take his seat. Jennings returned to radio presenting and playing as a session musician in the 1960s, but returned to big-time performing in the 1970s as part of The Outlaws movement in Country music and became a very big star. Waylon Jennings died in February 2002. The title of Jennings' original was "You Ask me To" and it appeared on is LP "Honky Tonk Heroes" RCA Victor APL1-0240.
You Belong To My Heart recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956;Informal
Written by: Gilbert; Lara
Originally recorded by Manuelita Arriola con la Orquesta Juan S. Garrido in 1941
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session; Elvis Latino!
Written as "Solamente Una Vez" in 1941, with both lyrics and music by Agustin Lara, known as the "Cole Porter of Mexico" for composing some of the country's most beloved classic melodies. The first singer was José Mojica in the 1941 film "Melodia de America," but this seems not to have been released as a commercial recording. (Shortly after making the film, Mojica became a Franciscan monk and was to die in utter poverty in 1974.) The first commercial recording was then made in 1941 by Manuelita Arriola con la Orquesta Juan S. Garrido and released on the Mexican label Peerless (matrix 1298-41). Some reports refer to Peerless 1779, but I have been unable to confirm this, having found definite reference only to Peerless 1996. Note that Manuelita Arriola was also known as Manolita Arriola. English lyrics were written in 1943 by Ray Gilbert, and introduced by the voice of Dora Luz on the soundtrack of Walt Disney's feature-length Donald Duck cartoon "The Three Caballeros" in 1944, but this also seems not to have been released as a commercial recording. A recording of Agustín Lara himself singing "Solamente Una Vez" was made in 1953 by RCA.
You Better Run recorded by Elvis on Friday, 31 March 1972;Studio
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by Gospel Light Jubilee Singers in 1939
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace (CD 2)
Probably a number that has to be classified as "traditional"—it is at the very least extremely difficult to find any information about it! The first recording I have been able to find with the title "You Better Run" dates from 1923, on the Document label, number DOCD-5520, by the Homer Rodeheaver and Wiseman Sextet. However, this is a different number altogether. The Gospel Light Jubilee Singers recorded their version on 1 February 1939 in the Andrew Jackson Hotel, Rock Hill, North Carolina, as "You Better Run On." It was released that same year on Bluebird B-8196, as the B-side of "Sit Down, Child." The August 1939 recording of the number by the Norfolk Jubilee singers on Decca 7758 more closely matches the song as later recorded by Elvis. Some commentators link "You Better Run" to another song, "(You Better) Let That Liar Alone." Personally, the link sems very tenuous to me, but this just helps to indicate the difficulties in locating the origins (and originals) of such traditional numbers.
You Can Have Her (I Don't Want Her) recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 11 May 1974;Studio
Written by: Cook
Originally recorded by Roy Hamilton in 1960
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Presley Live In L.A.
Bill Cook, who wrote this number, was Roy Hamilton's manager. This was Roy Hamilton's last hit. He recorded it on 28 November 1960 and it was released together with "Abide With Me," also written by Cook, on Epic 9434 in late 1960 or early 1961. Hamilton died in 1969, aged just 40, following a stroke. He was a great influence on numerous performers, including Jackie Wilson, Roy Brown and The Righteous Brothers. The version by Elvis was sung during the afternoon show at the Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, on 11 May 1974, where it was recorded by a member of the audience.
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 6 June 1970;Studio
Written by: Pallavicini; Donaggio
Originally recorded by Pino Donaggio (in Italian) in 1963
Hear Elvis's version on: That's The Way It Is; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 1
The Italian original is titled "Io Che Non Vivo Piu d'Un Ora Senza Te" and was the entry for the San Remo Song Festival in 1965, sung by Pino Donaggio. The label showed the title as "Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)." Giuseppe "Pino" Donaggio was born in Burano near Venice, Italy, on October 24, 1941. He began studying violin at the age of ten and at the age of 14 made his solo debut in a Vivaldi concert for Italian radio, later playing for both the Solisti Veneti and the Solisti di Milano. Donaggio's classical career ended when he made his singing debut with Paul Anka. He then began to write his own songs and established himself as one of Italy's prominent singer-songwriters. His biggest succes came with this number. Dusty Springfield got Simon Napier-Bell and Vicky Wickham to provide English lyrics and scored a number one in the UK and a number 4 in the US Hot 100 in 1966.
You Don't Know Me recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 22 February 1967;Studio
Written by: Walker; Arnold
Originally recorded by Eddy Arnold in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Clambake; Command Performances disc 2
Eddy Arnold was born on 15 May, 1918, near Henderson, Tennessee. By the age of sixteen, he was singing on local radio stations and by 1943 had performed as a solo artist on the Grand Ole Opry. Tom Parker (yes, that Tom Parker), became his manager and he signed to RCA Victor in 1944. He enjoyed a remarkable recording career and was also active in television and films. He sacked Parker in 1953. In 1955 Arnold had a storyline for a song and asked songwriter Cindy Walker to write something based on it. That was the genesis of "You Don't Know Me." Arnold's original version was recorded on 1 December, 1955, and released as a single on RCA Victor 20-6502 and 47-6502 in April 1956. Eddy Arnold may have made the first recording of this number, but Jerry Vale's was first released. The best known version, however, is probably that of Ray Charles who had a huge hit with it in 1962. Eddy Arnold died on 8 May, 2008. Elvis recorded "You Don't Know Me" twice: firstly the film version (used in "Clambake") and then again on Monday, September 11, 1967, for record release.
You Gave Me A Mountain recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 14 January 1973;Studio
Written by: Robbins
Originally recorded by Marty Robbins in 1966
Hear Elvis's version on: Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
It is said that Marty Robbins wrote this number especially for his friend Frankie Laine, but Laine did not record "You Gave Me A Mountain" until 1968. Robbins' original version was made on 9 May 1966 for Columbia, but was not released until 1995, when it appeared on the Bear Family collection, "Country 1960-1966." He later recorded another version that was released on his "It's A Sin" LP in 1969, perhaps about the time that Frankie Laine made his recording of "You Gave Me A Mountain." Laine disliked the line "Despised and ignored by my father," changing it to, "Deprived of the love of my father." Laine's recording reached number 24 in 1969 in the Billboard pop chart and number 1 in the Adult Contemporary (easy listening) chart in the USA in March 1969. went gold early the following year.
You'll Be Gone recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 18 March 1962;Studio
Written by: Presley; Hodge; West
Originally recorded by Charles Walters and June Knight in 1935
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville To Memphis (CD2)
Cole Porter wrote the number "Begin The Beguine" in the early thirties, basing it on a dance from Martinique. It seems that this was his favourite song. Elvis liked the number, too, but there were problems involved with him recording it, so he decided to rewrite it, which he promptly did, with the help of friends Charlie Hodge and Red West. The tune was also changed, but elements of the Cole Porter "original" (heck, even he wasn't original!) can clearly be heard.
You'll Never Walk Alone recorded by Elvis on Monday, 11 September 1967;Studio
Written by: Rodgers; Hammerstein
Originally recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1945
Hear Elvis's version on: You'll Never Walk Alone; Amazing Grace (CD 2)
"You'll Never Walk Alone" was written for the musical, "Carousel." Although Frank Sinatra recorded his version on 1 May 1945, before that of the Carousel cast, John Raitt, Christine Johnson, Jan Clayton, and Chorus, whose own version was made at some time between 9 and 21 May. Sinatra's original recording was rleeased as a single on Columbia 36825, coupled with "If I Loved You.". Gerry And The Pacemakers topped the UK charts for four weeks with the number in 1963.
You're The Boss recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 11 July 1963;Studio
Written by: Leiber; Stoller
Originally recorded by LaVern Baker and Jimmy Ricks in 1960
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings Leiber & Stoller; Collectors Gold
A duet with delicious Ann-Margret from the film, "Viva Las Vegas" or "Love In Las Vegas" (depending on where you live). It might sound as if it were written especially for these two, but the original recording was made by LaVern Baker and Jimmy Ricks on 14 November 1960 and released the following year on Atlantic 2090. Jimmy Ricks had a resonably successful solo career, but is best remembered for his involvement with the early R&B group The Ravens. Ricks died in 1974 and Lavern Baker in 1997.
You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956;Informal
Written by: Autry
Originally recorded by Gene Autry in 1935
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
Gene Autry wrote "You're The Only Star (In My Blue Heaven)" after having received a letter from a mentally disturbed fan, who used the title words in her letter. Autry recorded the original version of the song on 5 December, 1935 (matrix C-1177-1). "You're The Only Star…" was released as a single, coupled with "Mexicali Rose," on various labels, including ARC (Banner, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, Romeo) 6-05-59, Vocalian 03097, Conqueror 8652 and 9098, and Columbia (Canada) C255. The song was used in the film, "Springtime In The Rockies," in 1937. Later pressings of Vocalion 03097 and Conqueror 9098 and all pressings of OKeh 03097, use matrix LA-1849, which was a rerecording, made on 13 April, 1939. Elvis is heard on the backing vocals of the Million Dollar recording, with Jerry Lee Lewis taking the lead.
You're The Reason I'm Living recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 22 March 1975;Studio
Written by: Darin
Originally recorded by Bobby Darin in 1962
Hear Elvis's version on: The Memphis Flash Hits Las Vegas; Live In Las Vegas 4-CD set
Bobby Darin was born Robert Walden Cassotto in New York in 1936. He changed his name to Darin and became a professional singer in 1956. His first three singles flopped, but he scored a big hit with the rocker "Splish Splash." Not wishing to be typecast as a rocker, Darin then adapted an old number into "Mack The Knife," winning the Grammy for Record Of The Year and getting himself voted as Best New Artist. He starred in several lightweight films before becoming recognized as a serious actor in such films as "Pressure Point" and "Captain Newman MD," before winning an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Newman." Following open-heart surgery, Bobby Darin died in 1973 aged just 37. Darin recorded "You're The Reason I'm Living" on 25 September 1962. The number was released on 31 December 1962 on Capitol 4897. The CD on which Elvis's version originally appeared was sold with the book "Growing Up With The Memphis Flash" by Kate Wheeler. The song was later "officially" released.
Thanks to all the people who have provided feedback and additional information that I've been able to use to improve this site and its contents: Garth Bond (UK?), Sebastiano Cecere (Italy), Chris Deakin (UK), Stig Ericsson (Sweden), Mark Hillier (UK), Joop Jansen (Netherlands), Torben Jensen (Denmark), Robin Jones (Saudi Arabia), Bob Moke (USA), Henk Muller (Netherlands), Rami Poutiainen (Finland), Aad Sala (Netherlands), Trevor Simpson (UK), Leroy Smith (Netherlands), Philippe Spard (France), Kris Verdonck (Belgium). If I've forgotten anyone, please forgive me!