Elvis Elvis Presley covered more than 400 originals Presley
The Originals

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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Last update: Sunday, 13 April 2014; 502 numbers listed!List available as free ebook (epub format)

Show Me Thy Ways, O Lord recorded by Elvis on circa 1966; Informal
Written by: Shade
Originally recorded by Hovie Lister and the Statesmen Quartet in 1963
Hear Elvis's version on: The Home Recordings; Peace In The Valley-The Complete Gospel Recordings
Elvis's home recording of this number was found in Graceland in 1996. It was probably made on Red West's tape recorder about 1966. The words are based on Psalm 25.4, "Show Me Thy Ways, O Lord, Teach me thy paths." The music was copyrighted in 1963 and the number appeared on RCA Victor LP number LMP (or LSP) 2790, released in 1964. The Statesmen Quartet was formed in 1948 by Hovie Lister and the band was a great favourite of Elvis's.
Interesting link
Silent Night recorded by Elvis on Friday, 6 September 1957; Studio
Written by: Mohr; Gruber
Originally recorded by Trompeter-Quartett in 1890(?)
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Christmas Album; The Complete 50's Masters 3
The poem "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht" was written in 1819 (some sources list 1816, others 1818!) by Father Joseph Mohr of the Church of St Nicholas (Sankt Nikolaus-Kirche) in Oberdorf (Oberndorf), Austria. The church organist, Franz Gruber, wrote the music. Rev. John Freeman wrote the English words in 1863. Although the Haydn Quartet might have recorded the earliest version of the song in English in 1905, it had already been recorded in its original German in 1901 on the Zon-O-Phone label by Betsy Schot, who had been born in the Netherlands in about 1850, but had moved to Berlin to advance her career.
Yet another recording preceded even that of Betsy Schot, in fact, though it was made as part of a toy, rather than as a commercial recording in itself. Indeed, this was one of the very earliest disc recordings ever released and dates from about 1890. It was a five-inch/12.5cm. disc, which operated at 100 to 150 rpm and was made of vulcanized rubber. If the record numbers can be taken as a reference, some 860 such recordings were "released" for use on a hand-cranked gramophone toy made by German toy manufacturer, Kämmer & Reinhardt. Both numbers 100 and 584 were single-sided releases of the Trompeter-Quartett playing "Stille Nacht" (the information is included on a printed label on the ungrooved side of the disc).
Interesting link
Silver Bells recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 15 May 1971; Studio
Written by: Evans; Livingston
Originally recorded by Bing Crosby & Carol Richards in 1950
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas; If Every Day Was Like Christmas
The number was written for the film, "The Lemon Drop Kid," in which it was sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell. An earlier recording was made by Hope together with Carol Richards. According to a Reuters report at the time of songwriter Jay Livingston's death, "Silver Bells'' started out as a routine chore. ''Bob Hope needed a Christmas song but we thought they all had been written from 'White Christmas' on down,'' Evans said. We originally called it "Tinkle Bells," but realized that had a double meaning. There was a silver bell on the desk at our office at Paramount. We laughed. We said we'd make it 'Silver Bells.'''
Interesting link
Snowbird recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 22 September 1970; Studio
Written by: MacLellan
Originally recorded by Anne Murray in 1969
Hear Elvis's version on: I'm 10,000 Years Old: Elvis Country; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 3
A great big hit for Anne Murray, reaching number 8 in the US Hot 100 and number 10 in the Country charts, but getting to the top of the Adult Contemporary (easy listening) chart. Born Morna Anne Murray in Sprinhill, Nova Scotia (Canada) on 20 June, 1945, Murray gained fame singing on TV and made her first recordings in 1969. Murray recorded the original version of "Snowbird" in 1969 and it was initially released in Canada that same year on the LP "This Is My Way," on Capitol ST 6330. In July 1970, the number was used as the B-side of a single, with "Just Biding My Time" as the A-side, but it soon gained in popularity and went on to become an international hit.
So Glad You're Mine recorded by Elvis on Monday, 30 January 1956; Studio
Written by: Crudup
Originally recorded by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup in 1946
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Rock 'n' Roll no.2); The Complete 50's Masters 1
Arthur Crudup's original was recorded on February 22, 1946. Unlike the other two Crudup numbers he covered, Elvis's version has a substantially different arrangement, omitting the piano. Crudup was born on 24 August, 1905, in Mississippi. His big stature, even as a child, earned him the "Big Boy" name. His first recordings were made in 1942 on the Bluebird label. Royalty disputes with blues producer Lester Melrose kept Arthur Crudup a poor man and it was not until Elvis recorded Crudup's "That's All Right (Mama)," "My Baby Left Me" and later "So Glad You're Mine" that he received the attention and recognition he deserved. Unfortunately, Melrose still did not pay him the money to which he was entitled and Arthur Crudup died a poor man on 28 March 1974.
So High recorded by Elvis on Friday, 27 May 1966; Studio
Written by: Jones
Originally recorded by Golden Gate Quartet in 1947
Hear Elvis's version on: How Great Thou Art; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
Elvis greatly admired Jimmy Jones, bass singer with the Harmonizing Four (Elvis had a fascination with bass singers and would occasionally try a bass part himself). He wanted Jones to take part in the How Great Thou Art sessions, but the singer could not be located. Nevertheless, Elvis went ahead and recorded Jones's "So High." The number might be attributed in this form to Jones, but it is clearly strongly influenced by the gospel "You Must Come In At The Door," recorded in 1923 by the Wiseman Sextette. The Rev. Gary Davis's "Twelve Gates To The City," which he first recorded in 1935, is also a clear influence. The Golden Gate Quartet recorded their version of the "So High" in April 1947, using the title "High, Low And Wide." The number was released on single, Columbia 37499.
The group began singing together in the mid-1930s as the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet. Initially a gospel group, they moved into jazz and swing styles during the 1940s whilst continuing their gospel singing. At the end of the 1950s they moved to France, where they remain popular. But the song's trail leads still further back, with much of its structure and lyrics found in Rev. Gary Davis's 1935 recording of "Twelve Gates To The City," with credits going to Bowles, Hoyle and Frye.
Interesting link
Softly And Tenderly recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal
Written by: Thompson
Originally recorded by Miss Florence Hinkle & Mr. Harry MacDonough in 1906
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
The earliest known recording was on an Edison 2-min cylinder, number 9367. The words of the number, sung during the "Million Dollar Quartet" jam session in 1956, are based on the biblical text 1 Corinthians 7:24, "Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
Softly, As I Leave You recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 13 December 1975; Concert
Written by: de Vita; Calabrese; Shaper
Originally recorded by Mina in 1960
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Aron Presley
"Softly As I Leave You" is the English version of an Italian original, "Piano," recorded in 1960 by the Italian singer Mina. Mina was born Anna Maria Mazzini in the village of Busto Arsizio, in Lombardy, Italy, on 25 March 1940. She became a dominant figure in Italian popular music in the 1960s and '70s, and continues to release albums.
The original English-language version was recorded in 1962 by British singer Matt Monro.
Interesting link
Soldier Boy recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 20 March 1960; Studio
Written by: Jones; Williams Jr.
Originally recorded by The Four Fellows & Abi Barker Orch. in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Is Back!; From Nashville to Memphis (1)
There were numerous incarnations of the Four Fellows, starting as early as the mid-1940s, before the name was decided upon and the personnel became more or less fixed. After some initial outings on the Derby Records label, the Four Fellows became the first act to be signed to Phil Rose's Glory label. After two unsuccessful single releases (one of which was with Bette McLaurin), the Four Fellows released "Soldier Boy," a song written in 1951 by David Jones and Larry Banks, two of the members of the group (Banks is not credited), when they were serving in Korea. The single, on Glory 234, entered Billboard's R&B charts in July 1955 and remained there for 15 weeks. Although continuing to be popular, the Four Fellows never again emulated the success of "Soldier Boy."
Interesting link
Solitaire recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 3 February 1976; Studio
Written by: Sedaka; Cody
Originally recorded by Neil Sedaka in 1972
Hear Elvis's version on: From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee
The original version appeared on a Neil Sedaka LP that was ony released in Britain. The first single release was by Andy Williams in 1973. "Solitaire" was one of the earliest collaborations between lyricist Phil Cody and Neil Sedaka, who provided the music. According to Sedaka, he was inspired by his classical training and used his studies of Chopin as a guide to setting up the tune, but was also influenced by the music of Roberta Flack and Harry Nilsson.
Somebody Bigger Than You And I recorded by Elvis on Friday, 27 May 1966; Studio
Written by: Lange; Heath; Burke
Originally recorded by The Ink Spots in 1951
Hear Elvis's version on: How Great Thou Art; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
The Ink Spots might have had the original version, but Elvis was probably more influenced by Jimmy Jones and the Harmonizing Four's version.
Something recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 14 January 1973; Concert
Written by: George Harrison
Originally recorded by Joe Cocker in 1969
Hear Elvis's version on: Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
"Why not The Beatles?" I hear you shout! Well, Joe Cocker, the Sheffield Shrieker, recorded his version before The Beatles, though their version was released first. The Beatles started the recording process earlier than Cocker, but did not complete the track until mid August 1969. Some might argue that George Harrison, rather than either Cocker or The Beatles, should be cited as original artist. The solo demo that he made for Cocker on 26 February 1969, was released in 1996 on "Antholgy 3" but it was, of course, never intended for release, so I remain by Joe Cocker.
South Of The Border recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 18 March 1962; One-liner
Written by: Kennedy; Carr
Originally recorded by The Billy Cotton Band in 1939
Hear Elvis's version on: There's Always Me Volume 2 (unofficial compilation CD)
After a false start to Take 4 of his own Mexican-tinted composition "You'll Be Gone", Elvis sings a couple of lines of "South Of The Border" before getting back to "You'll Be Gone." Irish lyricist Jimmy Kennedy wrote the words to "South Of The Border" after having been inspired by a holiday postcard the he had received from Tijuana, Mexico, sent by his sister. Despite the middle-American sound of the tune, it was composed by a Briton, Michael Carr, and recorded first by British entertainment establishment figure, Billy Cotton. The song became hugely popular and was recorded by more than 300 artists. The number was also used in 1939 as the title song to one of Gene Autrey's popular films. Numerous other recordings of the number were made around the same time, including those by Kenny Baker (Victor) and Shep Fields (Bluebird).
Interesting link
Spanish Eyes recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 16 December 1973; Studio
Written by: Kaempfert; Snyder; Singleton
Originally recorded by Freddy Quinn in 1965
Hear Elvis's version on: Good Times; Elvis, Live & Unplugged
German big band leader and composer Bert Kaempfert (he also wrote "Strangers In The Night") wrote and recorded this melody as "Moon Over Naples" in 1965, to be the Italian track for his album "The Magical Music Of Faraway Places." Publisher Hal Fein found lyricists Eddie Snyder and Charles Singleton, who liked the idea of a Spanish number and wrote "Spanish Eyes." Bert wrote an arrangement for Freddy Quinn, a German crooner, but neither Polydor nor Decca wanted to release it as a single. Bert and Freddy then re-recorded the track for the Four Corners label when they were on holiday in the USA, where the lyrics were changed from "Spanish Eyes" to "Blue Spanish Eyes," which fit better with the music. Polydor still refused to release the single, but compromised by releasing the version without "blue" as the B-side of Quinn's "Across The Shore." Meanwhile, the Four Corners' release (the "Blue" one) began to do rather well in the USA, but was withdrawn from the market when Polydor and Decca threatened to sue, claiming ownership of the song. Hal Fein then got Al Martino to record the song as an album track, which was released as a single and became a smash hit. Elvis's studio recording of this number might date from 1973, but the version on "Elvis, Live & Unplugged" is a home recording and predates the official version by a month; it was recorded at Linda Thompson's home.
Interesting link
Stagger Lee recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 16 July 1970; Concert
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by Waring's Pennsylvanians in 1923
Hear Elvis's version on: Get Down And Get With It (unofficial CD)
What a pity Elvis didn't record this properly—his brief performance during an informal jam session promises so much ("Screw Stagger Lee")! How many titles can a song have? This number probably wins the competition with many variations of "Stagger Lee," including "Stack O'Lee," "Stack-a-Lee," "Stagolee" and several others. The song might well relate to an actual event, though the real story has probably been lost in the retelling. Some versions trace the song back to the James Lee House at 239 Adams, Memphis—another Elvis link! Perhaps a more likely origin is the killing of William "Billy" Lyons by Lee Sheldon (AKA Stag Lee) after an argument in a saloon in St. Louis in 1895. The first recorded version of the song was probably "Stack O' Lee Blues," which, though very different from the more modern "Stagger Lee," does contain some melodic reference. Waring's Pennsylvanians made two recordings of "Stack O' Lee Blues," the first on 16 October 1923, with vocal refrain by Vernon Dalhart, who would soon become more famous for his own recording of "Wings Of An Angel."
Interesting link
Stand By Me recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 25 May 1966; Studio
Written by: Tindley
Originally recorded by Madame Magdalene Tartt Lawrence in 1922
Hear Elvis's version on: How Great Thou Art; Amazing Grace (CD1)
Charles Tindley, the legendary gospel composer, created this number in 1905—he was also responsible for "By And By" and "I'll Overcome Some Day" (later known as "We Shall Overcome"). Madame Magdalene Tartt Lawrence's original recording of "Stand By Me" was made in December 1922 (possibly the 15th), but seems not to have been released until late 1923 or even early 1924—an advertisement for the record was printed in the May 1924 issue of a magazine called "The Crisis." Lawrence's original was made for the Paramount label, matrix G05091 and released as the B-side of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," Paramount number 12092. The writing credits on the label are erroneously listed as "C. A. Lindley."
An informal home recording of Elvis singing the "Stand By Me," made in April 1959 during his stay in Germany, also exists.
Interesting link
Any information about Madame Magdalene Tartt Lawrence? contact me.
Stay Away recorded by Elvis on Monday, 15 January 1968; Studio
Written by: Tepper; Bennett
Originally recorded by Werrenrath-Dixon-Hooley in 1915
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Kissin' Cousins; Clambake; Stay Away Joe
Some months previously, Elvis had requested a reworking of Greensleeves. An initial attempt, called "Evergreen," was not recorded, but this "Stay Away" was. The origins of "Greensleeves" are not clear and it is often listed as "traditional" or "anon." One story credits Henry VIII as having composed it for Anne Boleyn. It first appeared in print in 1580 during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Victor 17724 contained four songs taken from a collection indicated on the label as "50 Shakespeare Songs" and, indeed, Shakespeare himself is included in the writing credits for each number. The vocalists are indicated on the label as Reinald Werrenrath, Raymond Dixon and William Hooley. One of the two tracks on the B-side is a solo performance of "Greensleeves" (indicated as "Green-sleeves"), but just who the soloist was is not stated. The recording was made on 21 January, 1915.
Interesting link
Is there an earlier recording of "Greensleeves"! contact me.
Stay Away, Joe recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 1 October 1967; Studio
Written by: Weisman; Wayne
Originally recorded by Huddie Leadbetter in 1935
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Kissin' Cousins; Clambake; Stay Away, Joe
Intentionally or not, the writers of this Elvis track seem to have been at the very least inspired by the old slave song, "Pick A Bale O' Cotton." Huddie Leadbetter is perhaps better known as Leadbelly, and he is largely responsible for keeping alive many of America's folk-blues classics, of which "Pick A Bale" is one. Little is known of Leadbelly's early life, other than that it seems not to have been particularly pleasant or lawful. He was imprisoned for murder in 1918, but was pardoned in 1925, only to find himself back in jail in 1930 after a knife-fight. John Lomax, a folklorist, dicovered Leadbelly in Angola prison in 1933 and was impressed by his knowledge of folksongs. Leadbelly was released in 1934 and went to work for Lomax, who took him to New York, where he recorded, amongst other numbers, "Pick A Bale O' Cotton." On 15 June, 1940, Leadbetter recorded the number again in a more commercial setting, together with the Golden Gate Quartet. This recording was released on Victor 27268.
Interesting link
Steamroller Blues recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 14 January 1973; Concert
Written by: Taylor
Originally recorded by The Masqueraders in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
Although never making the big time, the Masqueraders survived for over twenty years, through personnel and name changes. Their beginnings can be traced back to 1958, when Robert Wrightsil and Charlie Moore formed a group with other school friends, calling themselves the Stairs. They performed locally during the next two years and eventually changed their name to the Masqueraders. The early recording career of the group is something of a mystery: it is possible that the Stairs released a couple of singles in 1959 and that the first Masqueraders release was as early as 1963. From 1965 to 1980, however, they had fairly regular single releases on a number of labels, without ever finding significant success. In 1968 the group tried its luck at Chip Moman's studio in Memphis and it was probably there that they recorded the original version of "Steamroller," which was released as a single on Bell 932.

James Taylor wrote "Steamroller" as a parody on the music of what he termed the "so-called blues groups in New York City," who were "making a lot of noise with electric guitars and amplifiers that their parents had bought them for Christmas and birthdays…" (James Taylor/Joni Mitchell BBC radio show, 1970). James Taylor's composition was called simply "Steamroller."
Interesting link
Stop, Look And Listen recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 16 February 1966; Studio
Written by: Byers
Originally recorded by Rick Nelson in 1964
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Spinout, Double Trouble
Born in 1940, Rick Nelson appeared with his parents in their 1950s TV show, "The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet." His recording career began in 1957 and the following year he formed his own band, which included James Burton, who would later become a fixed member of Elvis's band. His soft version of rock'n'roll and clean ballads left him without hits after the early 1960s. During this time, he released his album, "Spotlight On Rick" (Decca DL 4608), which included the track, "Stop, Look And Listen." Despite his lack of success, he continued recording, forming a new group called "The Stone Canyon Band," but was disappointed by the reception to his new style when he performed in Madison Square Garden in 1971. As a reaction, he wrote and released "Garden Party" in the early 1970s, a song that ironically became a million-seller and his last hit. Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash on 31 December 1985.
Interesting link
Stranger In My Own Home Town recorded by Elvis on Monday, 17 February 1969; Studio
Written by: Mayfield
Originally recorded by Percy Mayfield in 1963
Hear Elvis's version on: Back In Memphis; From Nashville to Memphis (4)
Percy Mayfield was born in 1920. He achieved huge US success in 1950 with Please Send Me Someone To Love. He is perhaps more remembered as the composer of Ray Charles' international bestseller Hit The Road Jack. Mayfield died in 1984.
Such A Night recorded by Elvis on Monday, 4 April 1960; Studio
Written by: Chase
Originally recorded by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Is Back!; From Nashville to Memphis (1)
Clyde McPhatter joined Billy Ward and the Dominoes in 1950, but left to form the Drifters in 1953: Elvis recorded the Drifters' "Money Honey." Other McPhatter originals recorded by Elvis are "Money Honey" and "Without Love." The original recording was made for Atlantic Records on 12 November, 1953, and it was released in the first week of 1954. Numerous covers were made in 1954, but the best known is probably Johnny Ray's, which readhed the top of the UK charts (perhaps aided by the fact that the lyrics were considered suggestive and the record was therefore not allowed to be played by the BBC). McPhatter died on June 13, 1971; he was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Summertime Has Passed And Gone recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal
Written by: Monroe
Originally recorded by Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys in 1946
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
Bill Monroe wrote and recorded his "Summertime Has Passed And Gone" in 1946 with his lineup at the time, known as The Bluegrass Boys. Elvis imitated Monroe's delivery during the so-called "Million Dollar Quartet" session. The number is also listed as "Summertime Is Past and Gone."
Surrender recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 30 October 1960; Studio
Written by: G.D. de Curtis; E de Curtis; Pomus; Shuman
Originally recorded by Mario Massa in 1905
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville to Memphis (1)
Originally titled "Torna a Surriento" and first published in 1904. Most sources relate that the first recorded version was made in 1911 by Enrico Caruso for Victor. Not so. In fact, although Caruso performed the number, it seems he never recorded it! Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote new words for Elvis's version in 1960. Versions with different words were recorded earlier, including one by Toni Arden in 1951. The original is actually dedicated to a man: in the September 1902, Prime Minister Giuseppe Zanardelli made an official visit to Sorrento. He stayed in a hotel, where Giambattista de Curtis worked as a painter. At the time, Sorrento was a mess, with bad roads, derelict houses and non-existent services. To encourage Zanardelli to improve conditions soon, de Curtis (Giambattista and Ernesto) wrote and dedicated this song to him, pleading that he return to a reconstructed and beautiful Sorrento. The song was written in just a few hours, but was modified soon after to produce the familiar version. Mario Massa carries the honour as first to record the number. He did so in June 1905 in Milan. His recording was issued on Odeon X37125.
Susan When She Tried recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 11 March 1975; Studio
Written by: Reid
Originally recorded by Statler Brothers in 1974
Hear Elvis's version on: Today; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 4
Composer Don Reid was a member of the Statler Brothers. Interestingly, none of the Statler brothers was a Statler! The group took its name from a box of paper hankies. Their greatest international success came with Flowers On The Wall in 1964.
Susie-Q recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 20 July 1975; One-liner
Written by: Hawkins; Lewis; Broadwater
Originally recorded by Dale Hawkins in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: Susie-Q (unofficial release)
"Susie-Q" was a hit for Dale Hawkins in 1957. He composed the number, together with Stanley Lewis and Eleanor Broadwater. Elvis's concert guitarist, James Burton, played lead on the recording. He explained his own part in its genesis in an interview with Roger Catlin of the Hartford Courant: "I was 15," Burton says. "It was a little instrumental thing I played. When I met Dale Hawkins, he had a blues band. I played this instrumental thing in different places we'd play, and it became so popular—it had such a good dance feel, with a good funky beat in there—Dale said 'I need to write some lyrics to this.' So Dale did." Elvis sang just a snatch of "Susie-Q" during the afternoon performance in Norfolk Virginia on July 20th 1975.
Suspicious Minds recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 23 January 1969; Studio
Written by: Zambon
Originally recorded by Mark James in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: The Memphis Record; From Nashville to Memphis (4)
Francis Rodney Zambon is the real name of Mark James, the writer of "Suspicious Minds." Zambon was born in 1940 and grew up learning to play violin until he discovered the guitar and formed his own group, "Francis Zambon and the Naturals," recording and releasing a few singles in the late 1950s ("Jive Note" was the first). After his military service, James was offrered a job at American Sound Studios and went on to write "Suspicious Minds," releasing his own version on the Scepter label, but with very little success. See also "Always On My Mind," "It's Only Love" and "Moody Blue."
Sweet Angeline recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 24 July 1973; Studio
Written by: Arnold, Martin, Morrow
Originally recorded by Arnold, Martin, Morrow in 1971
Hear Elvis's version on: Raised On Rock
Chris Arnold, David Martin and Geoff Morrow were prolific British pop song writers from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, having their songs performed by artists as diverse as Cilla Black, Barry Mannilow, The Carpenters, and Bruce Forsyth. They also recorded a few numbers themselves, one of which was their own "Sweet Angeline," released in late 1971 on the Bell label, number BLL 1183. Elvis recorded several other Arnold, Martin, and Morrow compositions: "Just A Little Bit Of Green," "This Is The Story," "Let's Be Friends" and "Change Of Habit."
Sweet Caroline recorded by Elvis on Monday, 16 February 1970; Studio
Written by: Neil Diamond
Originally recorded by Neil Diamond in 1969
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage
Diamond himself reached number 4 in the US Hot 100 with this number. Elvis also recorded Neil Diamond's "And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind."
Interesting link
Sweet Inspiration recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 20 August 1970; Concert
Written by: Pennington; Oldham
Originally recorded by Sweet Inspirations in 1967
Hear Elvis's version on: The Monologue LP (unofficial release)
The group who appeared with Elvis so often during his later years, the Sweet Inspirations, had a number 5 R&B hit with this number in 1968. The number was recorded in Memphis on 24 August 1967. The Sweet Inspirations then consisted of Cissy Houston, Estelle Brown, Sylvia Shemwell, and Myrna Smith. Cissy Houston was Whitney Houston's mother.
Interesting link
Sweet Leilani recorded by Elvis on ?, 1960; Informal
Written by: Owens
Originally recorded by Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Quartet in 1935
Hear Elvis's version on: In A Private Moment
Though best known for his "Hawaiian" music, Harry Owens was born in Nebraska. However, he became musical director of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Honolulu, in 1934, where he mixed traditional instruments with those more commonly used by American dance bands. That same year he wrote "Sweet Leilani" for his daughter. The name Leilani is made up of two Hawaiian words, Lani, meaning heavenly, and lei, meaning a wreath or garland of flowers. Sol Ho'opi'i recorded the number on 6 October 1935, the recording being released on Brunswick 55085 with the title "Leilani (Wreath of Heaven)." Sol Ho'opi'i is considered to have been one of the greatest exponents of the Hawaiian guitar and was at least influential in the development of the electric guitar in the early 1940s.
"Sweet Leilani" became a big hit for Bing Crosby in 1937, when he sang it in the film "Waikiki Wedding," earning an Academy Award for Song of the Year and giving Crosby his first gold record.
Elvis's version is a home recording, never intended for release.
Interesting link
But did Harry Owens himself record an earlier version (I know he recorded the number in the 1940s)? contact me.
Sweet, Sweet Spirit recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 30 March 1972; Concert
Written by: Akers
Originally recorded by Dorothy Akers & The Statesmen Quartet in 1964
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete On Tour Sessions Vol. 2 (unofficial release)
Dorothy Akers, born in Brookfield, Missouri, in 1923, moved to Los Angeles when she was 22 years of age to become intimately involved in gospel music. "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" was written by Akers in 1962. She recorded the number herself together with the Statesmen Quartet, releasing it on the LP, "Dorothy Akers & The Statesmen Quartet Sing For You" on RCA LPM 2936.
Dorothy Akers died in July 1995 and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
"Sweet, Sweet Spirit" was often sung in Elvis concerts, but not by Elvis. Instead, he would ask one of his backing groups, The Stamps, to perform the number, while he simply watched in admiration. During rehearsals, Elvis had the habit of singing many gospel numbers with members of his concert party; some of these rehearsals were recorded and thanks to this a very brief passage of "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," sung by Elvis, can be heard on an unofficial release.
Interesting link
Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal
Written by: Monroe
Originally recorded by Bill Monroe in 1947
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
Recorded on 27 October, 1947, "Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong" was eeleased on 12 April, 1948, on the 78rpm Columbia 38172, as the B-side of "My Rose Of Old Kentucky."
Lester Flatt, lead vocal & guitar; Bill Monroe, tenor vocal & mandolin; Chubby Wise, fiddle; Earl Scruggs, banjo; Howard Watts (Cedric Rainwater), string bass.
Interesting link
Swing Down Sweet Chariot recorded by Elvis on Monday, 31 October 1960; Studio
Written by: Burleigh(? or traditional)
Originally recorded by Fisk University Jubilee Quartet in 1909
Hear Elvis's version on: His Hand In Mine; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
There's a problem with the title of this song. The thing is, another song exists called "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (it goes, "Swing low sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home...." and is often heard at rugby matches!). It seems that they were both originally part of the same song, but have somehow become separated in time! (The Fisk University Jubilee Quartet's version, recorded on 1 December 1909 and released on Victor 16453, was titled "Swing Low Sweet Chariot") Follow the interesting link and you'll see what I mean.
A different version of this number was recorded for the film "The Trouble With Girls" and was not officially released until 1995 on the CD, "Double Features: Live a Little, Love a Little; Charro!; The Trouble With Girls; Change of Habit."
It is possible that an earlier recording of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" was made on a cylinder by the Standard Quartette in 1894, but I have been unable to confirm this.
Interesting link
Take Good Care Of Her recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 21 July 1973; Studio
Written by: Warren; Kent
Originally recorded by Adam Wade in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: Good Times; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
A top ten hit for Wade in the USA in 1961. He had two other top ten entries that same year and went on to become a TV show presenter in the USA, becoming the first black host.
Interesting link
Take My Hand, Precious Lord recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 13 January 1957; Studio
Written by: Dorsey
Originally recorded by Heavenly Gospel Singers in 1937
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Christmas Album; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
Thomas Dorsey wrote this number following the deaths of his first wife and baby daughter in 1932. Dorsey wrote of the song, "This is the greatest song I have written out of near four hundred." The Heavenly Gospel Singers were formed in Detroit in 1927, but used the name for the group only from 1933. After considerable success while on tour, the group was given a recording contract in 1935. The Heavenly Gospel Singers made the original recording of "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" on 16 February, 1937; it was issued on Bluebird B6846. That same year the Heavenly Gospel Singers made the first recording of "Bosom of Abraham," under the title "Rock My Soul." The Heavenly Gospel Singers continued with numerous personnel changes until the early 1950s, when they disbanded. The Golden Gate Quartet also recorded the number in 1939 and the phrasing they use is very similar to that used by Elvis. Thomas Dorsey died in 1993.
Interesting link
Take These Chains From My Heart recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 21 August 1974; Concert
Written by: Heath; Rose
Originally recorded by Hank Williams in 1952
Hear Elvis's version on: Nevada Nights (FTD CD)
Written by Hy Heath and Fred Rose, "Take These Chains From My Heart" was first recorded by Hank Williams on 23 September 1952. It was not released until 24 April 1953, almost 4 months after Williams' death on New Year's Day. It reached number one on Billboard's "Country and Western Records Most Played by Disc Jockeys" chart. Elvis sings a couple of lines of the song during the band introductions of the 21 August, 1974 midnight show in Las Vegas. An audience recording, made on 28 August, 1973, in Las Vegas, and available on the unofficial CD, "Take These Chains From My Heart," also includes the number.
Interesting link
Talk About The Good Times recorded by Elvis on Friday, 14 December 1973; Studio
Written by: Reed
Originally recorded by Jerry Reed in 1970
Hear Elvis's version on: Good Times; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 4
Jerry Reed also wrote "Guitar Man" and "U.S. Male." Jerry was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1937. He started to play guitar at age eight and was particularly inspired by Merle Travis's "I Am A Pilgrim." He started recording for Capitol in 1955, but with little success, so thathe left the company in 1958. By 1961, Jerry had completed his miltary service (1959 to 1961), during which he played as a member of the army's Circle-A Wranglers band, and had developed his "claw style" method of guitar playing. After a brief and unsuccessful time with Columbia Records, Reed signed with RCA. His first top 20 hit came in 1967 with "Tupelo Mississippi Flash," a song about Elvis. He was voted Instrumentalist of The Year in 1970 by the Country Music Associatiion and won a Grammy for the number "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1971. He won two other Grammy awards, together with Chet Atkins, one in 1970 and the other in 1992. In the mid-1970s he began acting in films such as "Smokey And The Bandit" and enjoyed occasional parts for the rest of his life. Jerry Reed died in September 2008.
See also "A Thing Called Love," "Guitar Man" and "U.S. Male."
Interesting link
Tell Me Why recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 12 January 1957; Studio
Written by: Traditional; Titus Turner
Originally recorded by Marie Knight in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete 50's Masters 2
"Just A Closer Walk With Thee" is a traditional American sacred song which became a million seller for Red Foley in 1950, though it had been recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe in 1938 already. It is not impossible that "Tell Me Why" was based on this tune. Elvis was not the first artist to record, however. That honour goes to Marie Knight who had a regional hit with it in early 1956 on the Wing label, prompting a cover version by Gale Storm on Dot.
Several different songs have carried the title "Tell Me Why": The Four Aces in 1951, The Rob Roys in 1959 and The Beatles in 1964, all had totally different numbers by this name, but the original of Elvis's version seems to have been made by Marie Knight, whose recording was released as her first single for her new label, Wings, in April 1956, backed with "As Long As I Have You" (#90069). Elvis's version, though recorded in 1957, was not released until 1966
Interesting link
Tender Feeling recorded by Elvis on Monday, 30 September 1963; Studio
Written by: Giant; Baum; Kaye
Originally recorded by Paul Robeson in 1935
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Kissin' Cousins; Clambake; Stay Away Joe
The team of Giant, Baum and Kaye provided many original songs for Elvis's moves, but this can hardly be termed "original" as the tune is clearly that of the far older America song, "Oh Shenandoah," also known as "Across The Wide Missouri." "Shenandoah" was a shanty used with the windlass, capstan, and winches for loading cargo. The origin of "Shenandoah" is not known. Some believe it originated among the early American river men or Canadian voyageurs. Others believe it was a land song before it went to sea. Most agree that it incorporates both Irish and African-American elements. The song dates from the early 1800s; it tells the tale of a trader who fell in love with the daughter of the Indian chief Shenandoah (other versions also exist)—he presumably had a "tender feeling" for her, so there is some degree of continuity!
Paul Robeson was a man of many parts: singer, recording artist, athlete, political activist; one of the truly great personalities of the 20th century. He grew to despise the early roles he had to play that denegrated his race. He embraced the socialist movement, supporting the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War and the Welsh miners, even portraying a black labourer who works in the Rhondda Valley pits in the 1940 film, "The Proud Valley." His first recording of "Shenandoah" was made in London on 24 May, 1935, and it was released on HMV B 8438, but he rerecorded the number on several other occasions.
It is difficult to believe that no earlier recording of "Oh Shenandoah" than that of Paul Robeson's exists.
The Campbell and Burr recording of "Shenandoah" from 1917 is a totally different song, with no connection at all to "Oh Shenandoah."
Interesting link
Is there an earlier recording? contact me.
Tennessee Waltz recorded by Elvis on February 1966-early 1967; Informal
Written by: King; Stewart
Originally recorded by Cowboy Copas in 1947
Hear Elvis's version on: Platinum: A Life In Music
One of THE country classics, though it is generally associated with Patti Paige, who had a no.1 US hit with her more pop version in 1950.
The origins of "Tennessee Waltz" are unclear. It was probably inspired by Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Walz," with Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart providing lyrics to their own "No Name Waltz" tune in 1946.
Cowboy Copas, sometime singer with Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys, probably recorded the number first in April 1947, though his version was not released until March 1948 (with the label showing the title as "Tennesee Waltz" -- note the missing "s" -- and strangely indicating Copas as one of the writers) on King 696.
Pee Wee King's own version, recorded with His Golden West Cowboys, was recorded in December 1947, released in January 1948, and entered the US Country charts in April 1948, peaking at number 3. Co-writer Redd Stewart, who played fiddle with the Cowboys, sang the lead. Tom Parker was Pee Wee King's road manager in the early 1940s. He went on to manage Eddy Arnold, a former Cowboy himself, and later, of course, Elvis.
On 17 February, 1965, Governor Frank Clement proclaimed "Tennessee Waltz" as the fourth Tennessee state song.
Interesting link
That's All Right Mama recorded by Elvis on Monday, 5 July 1954; Studio
Written by: Crudup
Originally recorded by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup in 1946
Hear Elvis's version on: The Sun Sessions CD; The Complete 50's Masters 1
Crudup's original was entitled simply "That's All Right." Things weren't going too well at Elvis's audition for Sam Phillips, when, during a break in the procedings, Elvis started messing with this up tempo number — up to then he'd attempted only ballads. Scotty Moore and Bill Black joined in, Sam Phillips was stunned, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Elvis never attempted to "steal" his music from the blacks who developed it. He was the first to give credit where it was due, as witness his remarks in 1956: "The coloured folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doin' now, man, for more years than I know... I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel what old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw."
Interestingly, Crudup seems to have used the various verses of "That's All Right" separately in other recordings he made in earlier years (notably "I Don't Know It," which is perhaps the number that Elvis remembered), so it seems to be an amalgam of remembered, previously composed bits and pieces.
See also My Baby Left Me and So Glad You're Mine.
Interesting link
That's Amore recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 29 March 1975; One-liner
Written by: Brooks; Warren
Originally recorded by Dean Martin in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: Rockin' Against The Roarin' Falls (unofficial)
Ah, Elvis, the great fan of Dean Martin! Honestly, he was (no, I don't understand it, either!), and so he sang a line of Deano's double-million-seller in a Las Vegas dinner concert in the 1970s, when his idol was in the audience. Dean Martin recorded the song originally together with Jerry Lewis for the soundtrack of the 1953 film "The Caddy" (the song was recorded in 1952 or 1953), but the track that was released on record was not recorded until 13 August 1953 for Capitol. Actually, Martin wasn't at all keen on the song at first, but probably changed his mind somewhat when the royalties started to arrive... The record reached number 2 in the Billboard charts.
That's My Desire recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal
Written by: Loveday; Kresa
Originally recorded by Russell Wooding And His Grand Central Redcaps in 1931
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
Carroll Loveday (words) and Helmy Kresa (music) published "That's My Desire" in 1931 and it was recorded for the Victor label in the May of that same year by little-known dance band leader Russell Wooding and his orchestra, with vocals by Frank Luther and released on Victor 22718. The number remained largely unknown, however, until Frankie Laine turned it into an emotional ballad during his first Decca recording session in August 1946. It went on to be his first hit in 1947, turning him into a major star. The recording made at the "Million Dollar Session," an informal session at the Sun recording studio that included Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, is dominated by Jerry Lee. Indeed, he might be the only one of the "quartet" actually performing! Elvis never recorded the number officially, but another informal recording was made in June 1968 during rehearsals for the "Singer Presents Elvis" TV special. This version is available on a number of "unofficial" releases, including "The Complete Dressing Room Session."
Interesting link
That's When Your Heartaches Begin recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 13 January 1957; Studio
Written by: Raskin; Brown; Fisher
Originally recorded by Shep Fields And His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra in 1937
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Golden Records; The Complete 50's Masters 3
Elvis recorded his first version of this number together with "My Happiness" as a private recording — his very first recording, in fact, in the summer of 1953 (and, no, it wasn't a present for his mother's birthday) It was also included in the jam session that took place at the Sun Studios, Memphis, in December 1956, known to the world as "The Million Dollar Quartet." This might have made Elvis think of the song again enough to include it in his next studio session for RCA, which took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. Shep Fields was born in 1910 in Brooklyn, New York. He played saxophone and formed his own band, broadcasting on NBC. He would open his shows with a "rippling" sound that he produced by blowing through a straw, the end of which was submerged in a bowl of water and this can also be heard on his original version of "That's When Your Heartaches Begin," which was recorded on 3 June 1937, with lead vocal by Bob Goday. It was released on Bluebird B-7015 as the B-side to "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down," perhaps better known nowadays as the theme tune for Looney Tunes. Shep Fields died in 1981.
Interesting link
The Caisson Song recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 21 January 1969; One-liner
Written by: Gruber
Originally recorded by Sousa's Band conducted by John Philip Sousa in 1917
Hear Elvis's version on: From Elvis In Memphis & Stay Away Joe FTD
Elvis had started recording "In The Ghetto" quite late in the evening of 20 January, 1969. It was early the following morning when he was about to begin take 20, that he decided to sing a couple of lines of an old army song called "The Caisson Song."
"The Caisson Song" was written in 1908 by General Edmund Louis Gruber (a distant relative of Franz Gruber, who wrote "Silent Night"). It was originally recorded on 21 December 1917 by the band of John Philip Sousa, as "The U.S. Field Artillery March" and published in sheet music form with different lyrics. The recording was released as a double-faced 10-inch single on Victor 18430, with "Liberty Loan March" on the other side. The usual legal battles ensued regarding the rights to the song and these were never properly settled.
The song was rewritten again in 1956 as "The Army Goes Rolling Along," when it became the official song of the U.S. Army.
Interesting link
The Christmas Song recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 12 December 1973; One-liner
Written by: Tormé; Wells
Originally recorded by The King Cole Trio in 1946
Hear Elvis's version on: Promised Land (FTD 2-CD)
Written during the hot summer of 1944, by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé, Nat King Cole made the original recording of "The Christmas Song" (subtitled "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire," or even, "Merry Christmas To You"), perhaps in June 1946, but a second recording was made on 19 August and it was this that was released on Capitol 311 in November of that same year. He went on to record it on at least three other occasions.
Elvis sings the "Merry Christmas to you" line a couple of times during the takes of "Thinking About You."
Interesting link
The Eyes Of Texas recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 10 July 1963; Studio
Written by: John L. Sinclair
Originally recorded by John Sinclair in 1903
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings Flaming Star; Double Features: Viva Las Vegas & Roustabout
Encouraged by Lewis Johnson, John Lang Sinclair wrote "The Eyes Of Texas" in 1903, basing the tune on the traditional "I've Been Working On The Railroad." It was first performed on 12 May 1903 at the Hancock Opera House in Austin, Texas, by the Varsity Quartet, accompanied by John Sinclair himself on banjo. Sinclair would sing the song in blackface at later shows. Elvis recorded it for the film "Love In Las Vegas" (US title "Viva Las Vegas") in a medley with "Yellow Rose of Texas."
Interesting link
Did Sinclair really record the number in 1903? Other candidates for original recording? contact me.
The First Noel recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 16 May 1971; Studio
Written by: arr. Elvis Presley
Originally recorded by Tally-Ho! in 1902
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas; If Every Day Was Like Christmas
This is a seventeenth century Christmas carol, originating from the west of England, where it was originally titled, "The First Nowell" (note spelling!), whose composer is unknown. The oldest printed copy of both music and text appeared in "Christmas Carols," by William Sandys in 1833. Tally-Ho! was a male vocal trio, whose memebers were Ernest Chester (tenor), William Doust (tenor), and Eric Farr (bass). Their recording of "The First Nowell" was made in London in 1902 for Edison-Bell (6629).
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face recorded by Elvis on Monday, 15 March 1971; Studio
Written by: MacColl
Originally recorded by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1962
Hear Elvis's version on: Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 1
Long before Roberta Flack's 1972 number one version (recorded in 1969 for her album "First Take"), "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" was recorded by the woman for whom it was written, Peggy Seeger, the sister of American folk music legend Pete Seeger. She made the recording together with the man who wrote the song for her, Ewan MacColl, and it was included on their "New Briton Gazette, Volume 2" album. MacColl wrote the song in 1957 (some reports give 1956) in less than ten minutes, whilst on the phone with Peggy Seeger: he was in London and she was in Los Angeles (he was not allowed into the USA because of his political tendencies, which the USA perceived as anti-American). She sang the song in concert that same evening.
Flack's version gained notice when it was used as background music in the Clint Eastwood film "Play Misty For Me."
Ewan MacColl, the writer of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,"was the father of Kirsty MacColl. One of Kirsty's first hit records was "There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" and very good it was, too!
Interesting link

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!

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