Information about original versions of numbers recorded by Elvis Presley.
(Please note that 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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The Impossible Dream recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 10 June 1972; Concert
Written by: Leigh; Darion
Originally recorded by Jack Jones in 1966
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
This number was written for the 1965 Broadway musical "Man Of La Mancha," in which it was first sung by Richard Kiley. It summed up the ambitions of the show's hero, Don Quixote, the character played by Kiley. In the notes to his "Greatest Hits" LP, Jones says, "I didn't even want to sing the song. I love Richard Kiley, but when I saw the show, I didn't think I could make the song work for me." Jones's version reached #1 in the easy listening chart and #35 in the pop chart of the USA in 1966, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Male Vocal Performance.
The Last Farewell recorded by Elvis on Monday, 2 February 1976; Studio
Written by: Whittaker; Webster
Originally recorded by Roger Whittaker in 1971
Hear Elvis's version on: From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee
Yuck! For me (a personal opinion, of course!), this has to be one of the biggest pieces of overproduced false sentimentality that Elvis sang (and I'm a fan!); there isn't a lot of such junk in Elvis's catalogue, I hasten to add! I disliked Whittaker's original and Elvis's is hardly an improvement—"Tomorrow for old England she sails," my foot! Anyway, Whittaker had a radio series in 1971 in Britain and people were invited to send in poems or lyrics, some of which were put to music and performed on the show. "The Last Farewell" was a poem by Ron Webster, a silversmith from Birmingham (England). The number first appeared on Whittaker's 1971 LP, "A Special Kind of Man." The song eventually became a hit single in 1975.
The Lord's Prayer recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 16 May 1971; Informal
Written by: Jesus (?)
Originally recorded by Dr. B. Sunderland in 1898
Hear Elvis's version on: A Hundred Years From Now (Essential Elvis Volume 4)
"The Lord's Prayer" is, of course, the prayer prescribed in the Bible. Elvis's version is described in the sleeve-notes of "A Hundred Years From Now" as being an "Informal Performance"—it most certainly is! The first recording of this prayer seems to have been made by Emile Berliner ca. 1888, but I do not know if the recording was made for commercial purposes. Dr. Sunderland's 1898 recording was a recitation of the prayer, made on a single-sided disc and published by the Emile Berliner's Gramophone company.
The Mickey Mouse Club March recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 1 April 1975; Concert
Written by: Dodd
Originally recorded by Jimmie Dodd And The Merry Mouseketeers in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Rockin' With Elvis April Fools Day Vol.2 (Claudia unofficial CD)
Jimmie Dodd was born in March 1910 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is best known as the host of the Mickey Mouse Club TV show in the second half of the 1950s. Dodd died in Honolulu, Hawaii, in November 1964. His original recording of The Mickey Mouse Club March was released on a 10" 78 RPM EP on the Walt Disney Productions label, number DBR-50.
Elvis as a Mousketeer? Yes, and he wore the mouse ears on stage, too! Well, it was April Fool and the man always enjoyed a laugh!
Elvis sang the song during the midnight show during a Las Vegas stint; he sang it again during a Lake Tahoe engagement on 9 May 1976—perhaps April Fool's Day was later that year... Neither of his renditions have been released officially, but the first is available on an unofficial CD.
The Most Beautiful Girl recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 27 January 1974; One-liner
Written by: Bourke; Sherrill; Wilson
Originally recorded by Norro Wilson in 1969
Hear Elvis's version on: Real Fun On Stage... And In The Studio (unofficial)
This number was written in 1968 as "Hey Mister, Did You Happen To See The Most Beautiful Girl In The World," which was probably too long to fit on a 45. Norro Wilson helped in the writing and recorded the original version in 1968. The recording was released on the Smash label, number S-2192 that same year. The title on the label was simply "Hey Mister" and the track was issued as the B-side to "Only You (And You Alone)." Charlie Rich had a worldwide hit with the song several years later, including a number 1 in the US C&W charts. Co-writer Rory Bourke also wrote "Patch It Up" and "Your Love's Been A Long Time Coming," both recorded by Elvis. Elvis sang just one line of the song in a concert in the 1970s.
The Titles Will Tell recorded by Elvis on November (?) 1959; Informal
Written by: Underwood
Originally recorded by Barbara Pittman in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: In A Private Moment
This track is incorrectly listed on Elvis releases as "Number Eight" or "Number 8 On The Jukebox" (presumably because part of the text sounds like "number eight," though it is actually "number A-17"). The correct title is "The Titles Will Tell" and the song was written by Charles Underwood, a Memphian who also wrote "Ubangi Stomp." Barbara Pittman, one of the few women to sing for the Sun label, recorded a version of "The Titles Will Tell" in 1957 or 1958, but the recording was not released until the 2002, when it formed part of a Bear Family compilation. Barbara Pittman deserved more attention and recording success than she received, so I am including her recording here, even though it is reported to have been "just" a demo: it sounds much too good to be a demo. Barbara Pittman died in October 2005.
B.J. Thomas recorded his own version of the number for his 1966 album "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry/Tomorrow Never Comes," using the title "The Titles Tell."
The Twelfth Of Never recorded by Elvis on Friday, 16 August 1974; Studio
Written by: Livingston; Webster
Originally recorded by Johnny Mathis in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
The melody used for "The Twelfth of Never" is based on the 16th century English folk-song, "I Gave My Love A Cherry" (also known as "The Riddle Song"). Johnny Mathis began his recording career in 1957 and is still recording in the 21st century. His album Johnny's Greatest Hits spent no less than 490 continuous weeks in the Billboard Top Albums Chart, starting in 1958. Elvis's recording was made during studio rehearsals preceding the August Las Vegas shows.
The Whiffenpoof Song recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 23 October 1968; Studio
Written by: Sculls; Minnigerode; Pomeroy
Originally recorded by Rudy Vallee in 1937
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Live a Little, Love a Little; Charro!; The Trouble With Girls; Change of Habit
Guy Sculls (a Harvard man!) wrote the music in 1894 and words were added in 1908 by Meade Minnigerode and George Pomeroy for the Whiffenpoofs, a group of songsters made up of Yale students. Apparently, the name of the song is derived from the name of the Yale society that adopted the number as its theme song (and they took their name from that of an imaginery character in the operetta "Little Nemo"). Rudy Vallee was a Yale graduate and remembered the song from his college days, when he was a member of the Whiffenpoofs in 1927.
Elvis's version was recorded in medley with "Violet (Flower of NYU)."
The Wonder Of You recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 18 February 1970; Concert
Written by: Knight
Originally recorded by Ray Peterson in 1959
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 1
Apparently written by Baker Knight for Perry Como, but then given to Ray Peterson, who scored a Top 30 US hit in the summer of 1959 (apparently, Ray had a 4 1/2 octave range at the time). RCA reissued Ray's version in 1964, when it reached number 70 in the US Pop charts. Elvis's version reached considerably higher. Peterson himself relates a telling tale: "He [Elvis] asked me if I would mind if he recorded 'The Wonder of You.' I said, 'You don't have to ask permission; you're Elvis Presley.' He said, 'Yes, I do. You're Ray Peterson.'" Peterson died in January, 2005. Note that the version on the CD "ELV1S 30 #1 Hits" is not that which was released as a single or used on the albums above; instead, it is an inferior version—apparently the compilers didn't notice this error, as there is no indication in the liner notes of it not being the #1 hit version!
There Goes My Everything recorded by Elvis on Monday, 8 June 1970; Studio
Written by: Frazier
Originally recorded by Ferlin Husky in 1965
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 1
Ferlin Husky was born on 3 December 1927 in Missouri, USA. Husky's first recordings were made about 1950 for Four Star Records, singing under the name He signed a recording contract with Capitol in 1952 or 1953 (sources differ). Now singing as both Ferlin Husky and Simon Crum, Husky had numerous hits in the second half of the 1950s until the mid-60s, followed by fewer and smaller successes. He recorded "There Goes My Everything" in 1965, releasing it in May 1966 on his "I Could Sing All Night" LP. "There Goes My Everything" became really well known, however, when Jack Greene's recording of it made a big impact not only on the charts, where it reached the top of the US Country Chart, but also on the 1967 "1st Country Music Association Awards," where it was voted Single of The Year and Song of The Year. The number was covered in the UK by Engelbert Humperdinck (and he's lived off it ever since!)
There Is No God But God recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 9 June 1971; Studio
Written by: Kenny
Originally recorded by Bill Kenny in 1966
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace (CD 2)
The Ink Spots started performing together in 1934. Two years later, Bill Kenny, who became the voice of the Ink Spots, joined and they then went from strength to strength. After an argument in 1951, Bill Kenny's was the only voice heard on subsequent Ink Spots recordings made for the Decca label. Some sites list 1951 or 1952 as the date for Kenny's original recording of "There Is No God". However, I have been unable to confirm this date. Indeed, I have found evidence that the number was copyrighted only in 1963 and the earliest release by Kenny that I am able to find is on the 1966 Dot album, "Remember Me" (DLP-3738/25738).
There's A Honky Tonk Angel (Who Will Take Me Back In) recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 15 December 1973; Studio
Written by: Seals; Rice
Originally recorded by Troy Seals in 1973
Hear Elvis's version on: Promised Land
Co-writer Troy Seals recorded this song for his debut album "Presenting Troy Seals." Conway Twitty took the number to the top of the US country charts. Cliff Richard's version was withdrawn from the UK market as soon as Cliff discovered exactly what a Honky Tonk Angel was! Seals also wrote "Pieces Of My Life," recorded by Elvis.
There's No Place Like Home recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal
Written by: Payne; Bishop
Originally recorded by John Yorke AtLee in 1891
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
This number is also known as "Home Sweet Home." Originally an operatic aria from Sir Henry Bishop's largely forgotten opera "Clari," also called "The Maid of Milan," with words by John Payne. The tune was partly based on a Sicilian Air. The song was the first popular tune to become a "hit," being the first to be intentionally sold so that the "ordinary" person could play it at home (we're talking about the early 19th century here, remember—that's 18.., incidentally!). Rossini seemed to like it, too, for he used the tune in his rather better-remembered "Barber of Seville"—more opera! Atlee, also known as "Whistling John Atlee" is sometimes labelled "the first recording star." The earliest vocal recording dates from 1902 and was made by Harry Macdonough & Grace Spencer.
There's No Tomorrow recorded by Elvis on April 1959 (or later); Informal
Written by: Hoffman/Corday/Carr
Originally recorded by Tony Martin in 1949
Hear Elvis's version on: Platinum: A Life In Music Disc 1
This was a version of "O Sole Mio," the song Elvis recorded as "It's Now Or Never." Elvis's home recording, made in Germany during his military service, together with "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen," "I Will Be True," "It's Been So Long Darling," and "Apron Strings" was released as "Bad Nauheim Medley" on "Platinum: A Life In Music" in 1997.
This Time recorded by Elvis on Monday, 17 February 1969; Informal
Written by: Moman
Originally recorded by Thomas Wayne in 1958
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville To Memphis (Essential 60's Masters) CD 5
Chips Moman wrote this song and went on to have his own recording studio and production company in Memphis. It was at this studio that Elvis recorded some of his very finest work—and for those of you who think that Elvis died in the army, listen to his late 60's work, especially the magnificent "From Elvis In Memphis" LP/CD, and be impressed! Elvis was recorded singing part of this song in combination with "I Can't Stop Loving You" during a session at Chips' studios.
This Train recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 24 July 1971; One-liner
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by Florida Normal Industrial Institute Quartet in 1922
Hear Elvis's version on: Saturday Night Special (unofficial CD)
This title is not listed on the tracklist of the CD indicated, nor on any other Elvis release. However, during this particular recording, Elvis demonstrates the origins of "My Babe" (see its own entry) by singing a full couplet of the song that was more than likely its influence—"This Train" —during a Lake Tahoe concert.
The version of the song recorded by the Florida Normal Industrial Institute Quartet in 1922 (probably September) was called "Dis Train" on its Okeh 40010 release, which did not appear until 1924.
Three Corn Patches recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 21 July 1973; Studio
Written by: Leiber; Stoller
Originally recorded by T-Bone Walker in 1973
Hear Elvis's version on: Raised On Rock
Aaron Thibeaux Walker—hence the "T-Bone" (sounds like Thibeaux) was born in 1910. He recorded his first tracks in 1945 and can be regarded as the first electric bluesman, a great influence on the likes of B.B. King, Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughn amongst many others (even Chuck Berry admits to being influenced!). His original recording of "Three Corn Patches" was part of his 1973 album, "Very Rare" (Reprise 2XS 6483), which was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who also wrote three of the ten tracks on the album.
T-Bone died in 1975. The last Leiber-Stoller number Elvis recorded in a studio?
Thrill Of Your Love recorded by Elvis on Monday, 4 April 1960; Studio
Written by: Kesler
Originally recorded by Carl McVoy in 1958
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis is Back!; The Essential 60's Masters 1, CD1
Stan Kesler wrote five songs recorded by Elvis: "I'm Right, You're Left, She's Gone," "I Forgot To Remember To Forget," "If I'm A Fool For Loving You," "Playing For Keeps" and this gospel-like "Thrill Of Your Love." Carl McVoy was an older cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis and seems to have given him some early piano-playing lessons! His 1958 version of "Thrill Of Your Love" was called "A Woman's Love" and remained unissued at the time, but has since appeared on compilations.
Tiger Man recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 27 June 1968; Studio
Written by: Louis; Burns
Originally recorded by Rufus Thomas (but see note on Joe Hill Louis) in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings Flaming Star; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 4
Rufus Thomas's release prior to "Tiger Man" was also animalistic — "Bear Cat," an answer-song to "Hound Dog." Joe Hill Louis (or was it Lewis?), one of the writers of "Tiger Man," played on the original recording, though it was credited to Rufus Thomas. The other name in the writing credit, Burns? Well, that was Sam Phillips getting in on the deal, but using his wife's maiden name (she was Rebecca Burns) instead of his own family name. "Tiger Man" had earlier been recorded for Sun by Joe Hill Louis himself on 17 November 1952, but his recording was not released until it appeared on a compilation in 1986. A recording of Elvis rehearsing the number, made on 25 June 1968 has also been released on the set, "Platinum, A Life In Music."
Time Has Made A Change In Me recorded by Elvis on Friday, 31 March 1972; Informal
Written by: Frye
Originally recorded by JD Sumner And The Stamps Quartet in 1964(?)
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete On Tour Sessions Vol.2 (unofficial release)
Harkin Frye copyrighted this number in 1948, so it is possible that it was recorded before JD Sumner and The Stamps recorded it for inclusion in their 1964 album, "Go Ye." The number is often listed as "traditional," but this seems not to be the case (indeed, numerous composer credits can be found, but the consensus seems to be in favour of Harkins Frye, even though his surname is sometimes written "Freye").
(Note that the Jimmy DeBerry number, "Time Has MAde A Change" is a completely different song.)
Tiptoe Thru The Tulips recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 29 June 1968; One-liner
Written by: Dubin; Burke
Originally recorded by Nick Lucas in 1929
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis '68 Comeback Special DeLuxe Edition (DVD)
Published in 1926, the song was first used in the 1929 film, "Gold Diggers Of Broadway," in which it was sung by the very popular "Singing Troubadour," Nick Lucas, who made the first recording of the number in May of that year. The track was released on Brunswick 4418. Lucas was born Dominic Nicholas Anthony Lucanese in 1897. This number was his greatest success, selling over two million copies. Lucas was still active in 1975, when he recorded songs for the soundtrack of "The Day Of The Locust." Lucas died in 1982. Nowadays the number is probably more associated with one of pop music's more eccentric characters, the late Tiny Tim, who had a hit with it in 1968. His version sounds inspired by Lucas's original. Elvis sang just a few lines of the song during the filming of his 1968 Singer TV Special.
Today, Tomorrow And Forever recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 11 July 1963; Studio
Written by: Giant; Baum; Kaye
Originally recorded by Johann Strauss Orchester in 1910
Hear Elvis's version on: Viva Las Vegas EP; Double Features: Viva Las Vegas & Roustabout
Hungarian-born piano virtuoso Franz Liszt wrote three versions of "Liebestraum" between 1847 and 1849, finally publishing in 1850. The third version, "Liebestraum No 3 in As-dur opus 62," became the best known and it is on this version that "Today, Tomorrow and Forever" is based. Elvis's original release was a solo number, but an interesting duet featuring Elvis with Ann-Margret, who co-starred with him in "Viva Las Vegas" can be found on the 4-CD set, "Today, Tomorrow And Forever."
Tomorrow Is A Long Time recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 26 May 1966; Studio
Written by: Dylan
Originally recorded by Ian & Sylvia in 1963
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville to Memphis (3)
Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker were Canadian folk singer/songwriters, who together formed the duo Ian & Sylvia. Their original recording of Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" appeared on their 1963 (some sources say 1964) album, "Four Strong Winds" (Vanguard VRS-9133/VSD-2149). Bob Dylan's own version of this beautiful song did not appear until 1971.
Elvis's superb version was hidden as a "bonus song" on the film LP "Spinout"—a real scandal that such a track should have been reduced to that status and therefore still remains unknown to the general public. (The same happened with "Suppose" of course!)
Tomorrow Never Comes recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 7 June 1970; Studio
Written by: Tubb; Bond
Originally recorded by Ernest Tubb in 1944
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
There's another connection between Ernest Tubb and Elvis, apart from this song: Tom Parker, Elvis's (in)famous manager, acted as one of Tubb's advance promo men at the time he made this original.
Tomorrow Night recorded by Elvis on Friday, 10 September 1954; Studio
Written by: Coslow; Grosz
Originally recorded by Henry Russell and His Romancers in 1939
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis For Everyone; The Sun Sessions CD; The Complete 50's Masters 1
This track was first released on the "Elvis For Everyone" LP in 1965, 11 years after its original recording, which is to be found on the collection "The Sun Sessions." The '63 release contains overdubs.
Henry Russell and His Orchestra recorded their version of "Tomorrow Night" on 8 August 1939, the day before Horace Heidt made his more famous version. Russell recorded with a hodge-podge of a band, often, it seems, using members of Horace Heidt's own orchestra, for which Russell was vocalist. Other names that Russell recorded under were Henry Russell and His Orchestra and Henry Russell and His Mystic Music. The original was released on Vocalion 5090.
Russell might well have had the original version, but Elvis's interpretation sounds as if he was more familiar with Lonnie Johnson's 1947 recording of the number. Wilhelm Grosz was also known as Hugh Williams (and André Milos) and he worked with Jimmy Kennedy to produce "Harbour Lights," another number sung by Elvis. Grosz was born in Vienna in 1894. After a full classical training and enormous success in that field, he moved to England in 1934 and from there to the USA in 1939, where he died just three months later, in December of that same year.
Tonight Carmen recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 4 June 1970; One-liner
Written by: Robbins
Originally recorded by Marty Robbins in 1967
Hear Elvis's version on: Essential Elvis Vol.4 (A Hundred Years From Now)
Marty Robbins was born in Arizona in 1925. After a hard childhood, he joined the US Navy, where he first dabbled in music and songwriting. After leaving the navy in 1946, he built a local reputation as a performer, eventually signing with Columbia in 1951. A waning career was revived with his cover of Elvis's own cover of Crudup's "That's All Right, Mama" at the end of 1954. He went on to become a regular country hit-maker and songwriter (including "You Gave Me A Mountain," also recorded by Elvis). Marty Robbins was awarded the first ever Grammy for a country song, "El Paso," in 1961. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982, the year in which he died. As well as being a huge country artist, Robbins was also a keen stock-car racing driver. Elvis is heard singing just the first line of the song before going into "A Hundred Years From Now." The song is not listed in the CD playlist.
Tonight Is So Right For Love recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 27 April 1960; Studio
Written by: Wayne; Silver; Lilley
Originally recorded by Friedrich Kark in 1906
Hear Elvis's version on: G.I. Blues (non-european releases)
The melody is based on (well, copied from...) "Barcarolle" by Jacques Offenbach. For copyright reasons, this track couldn't be released in Europe, so Wayne, Silver and Joe Lilly altered their original lyrics to fit a similar melody taken from "Tales From The Vienna Woods" by Johann Strauss, calling the song "Tonight's All Right For Love." Copyright problems did not affect release elsewhere in the world, apparently. Indeed, the Barcarolle melody had previously been recorded in a "jazzed up" fashion by pianist Frankie Carle and His Sunrise Serenaders in 1940, in purely instrumental fashion. It was an original arrangement by Carle. Carle's version was released on a single with the band's version of Rachmaninov's "Prelude in C sharp minor" (opus 3, No. 2) on the flip. The record was released by Columbia on #35573. The original recording of the standard music seems to have been made in Berlin in 1906 by Friedrich Kark on Odeon X34630.
Tonight's All Right For Love recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 6 May 1960; Studio
Written by: Wayne; Silver; Lilley
Originally recorded by Metropolitan Orchestra in 1901
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis: A Legendary Performer Vol.1
Because of copyright problems in Europe with the melody used for "Tonight Is So Right For Love", the words originally written for that song were adapted to fit the similar melody of Opus 325 of "Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald" ("Tales From The Vienna Woods") by Johann Strauss, written in 1868.
The recording by the Metropolitan Orchestra was made for Victor on 17 January, 1901 and was probably issued in 1902—unclear records seem to indicate that 100 copies of the 7-inch disc were received from the pressing plant that year. Records are equally unclear as to where the recording was made, though this was likely to have been at the Johnson Factory Building, Camden, studio. In any case, the number was released on Victor A-396, a 7-inch single-sided pressing.
The Metropolitan Orchestra was active in the recording studio from June 1900 until May 1906, with its peak ending in July 1903.
Too Much recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 2 September 1956; Studio
Written by: Rosenberg; Weinman
Originally recorded by Bernard ("Bernie") Hardison in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Golden Records; The Complete 50's Masters 2; ELV1S 30 #1 Hits
Hardison was a flamboyant singer and pianist who recorded the original version of "Too Much" two years before Elvis took it to the top of the charts in 1957. The recording was made by Tennessee/Republic co-founder Bill Beasley and released on Republic 7111.The Louise Brook's Band provided the backing for Hardinson. It seems that Beasley and his wife, Joan Norris, wrote the number, but publishing deals and lawsuits led to the credits going to the song's publishers, Lee Rosenberg and Bernard Weinman. Lee Rosenberg was a former secretary of Bill Beasley's; her share of the songwriting credits were passed to Elvis.
Too Much Monkey Business recorded by Elvis on Monday, 15 January 1968; Studio
Written by: Berry
Originally recorded by Chuck Berry in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville to Memphis (3)
Elvis covered numerous Berry numbers — see also Brown Eyed Handsome Man; Johnny B. Goode; Long Live Rock And Roll (School Days); Maybellene; Memphis, Tennessee; Promised Land.
True Love recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 23 February 1957; Studio
Written by: Porter
Originally recorded by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Loving You; The Complete 50's Masters 3
The original featured in the film "High Society." Elvis's version appeared on the soundtrack album of his second film, "Loving You." The first record release of the number, though, was by Jane Powell, also in 1956.
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road recorded by Elvis on Monday, 17 February 1969; Studio
Written by: Owens: Frazier
Originally recorded by Duane Dee in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: From Elvis in Memphis; From Nashville to Memphis (4)
Duane Dee was also the first person to record the very well-known country classic, "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," which he did in 1967. "True Love Travels..." is no slouch in the country stakes, either, having been recorded by The Highwaymen (Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash) as well as less obvious candidates as Welshman Shakin' Stevens, Nick Lowe and The Grateful Dead!
Trying To Get To You recorded by Elvis on Monday, 11 July 1955; Studio
Written by: Singleton; McCoy
Originally recorded by The Eagles in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Presley (Rock 'n' Roll no.1); NBC-TV Special
Elvis tried recording this number during a February 1955 Sun session, but the result was unsatisfactory and that particular track has not resurfaced since. Several months later a new, this time successful attempt was made and the number was considered for release as a Sun single, though this never happened. Instead, RCA released the number on its own label, having taken over the track as part of their deal with Sun when they bought out Elvis's contract. The Eagles' recording was released in mid-1954 on Mercury 70391. (As an aside, it's interesting to note that Roy Orbison also recorded this track in 1955, when it was released on the Je-Wel label as the B-side of his original recording of "Ooby Dooby," a track he would later re-record at Sun!)
Tumblin' Tumbleweeds recorded by Elvis on ca.1966; Informal
Written by: Nolan
Originally recorded by Sons Of The Pioneers in 1934
Hear Elvis's version on: The Home Recordings
Writer Bob Nolan was leader of the Sons Of The Pioneers.The lead singer on the original track is Leonard Slye, later to be better known as Roy Rogers. Their original recording was released on Brunswick 04001 and later re-issued on RCA Victor. It seems that Elvis also recorded the Pioneers' "Cool Water," but this has yet to be found.
Turn Around, Look At Me recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 13 November 1971; Concert
Written by: Capehart
Originally recorded by Glen Campbell in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: In Dreams Of Yesterday (Memory label, CZ)
This was Campbell's first hit. The Vogues made the Top Ten with the number in 1968. Campbell was a frequent session musician in Nashville and even played on some Elvis recordings, notably those from the sessions that gave us the excellent "Viva Las Vegas" soundtrack. Only poor audience recordings exist of Elvis singing this song in concert, the first dating from the 13 November 1971 performance in Dallas, Texas. A second, rather better recording, was made at Asheville on 23 July 1975.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus recorded by Elvis on Friday, 31 March 1972; Studio
Written by: Lemmel; Clarke
Originally recorded by Johnny Hallett in late 1950s
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace (CD 2)
Helen Lemmel was responsible for over 500 hymns during her lifetime (1864 - 1961). She wrote the hymn "O Soul Are You Weary And Troubled" (the correct title of this number) in 1918, after having read a gospel tract written by Lilian Trotter and based on the biblical passage Mat 4:1-12. It was first published in 1922. Hallett's version was played on the piano. Elvis's version was made at an informal studio session during the filming of "Elvis On Tour," sung together with "Nearer My God To Thee." It was not included in the film, and was not released until 1994.
Was Hallett's recording the first? When was it made? contact me.
Tutti Frutti recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 31 January 1956; Studio
Written by: Labostrie; Penniman
Originally recorded by Little Richard in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Presley (Rock 'n' Roll no.1); The Complete 50's Masters 1
Elvis covered no less than four Little Richard originals in 1956. In addition to Tutti Frutti, see also Long Tall Sally, Ready Teddy, and Rip It Up. A song by the same title was recorded in about 1938 by a duo called Slim & Slam, but it sounds very different indeed and, in my opinion, can't be considered the original of the Little Richard number.
Tweedlee Dee recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 18 December, 1954 (but see comment!); Concert
Written by: Scott
Originally recorded by LaVern Baker in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete 50's Masters 5 (Rare and Rockin')
LaVern Baker's release was called "Tweedle Dee." Elvis did not make a studio recording of the number, but three live versions exist: in addition to that on the set mentioned above, whose sleevenotes indicate not only the date, but also the location as Gladewater, Texas, the CD "Sunrise" has a version from 22 January 1955 (?) and "The First Live Recordings" (and numerous other CDs) reproduce a recording from 30 April 1955, also purporting to have been made in Gladewater, Texas... But there's a problem, for on 18 December 1954, Elvis was appearing at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, so either he was double-dating, or RCA/BMG have the date incorrect in The Complete 50's Masters. Furthermore, Guralnick and Jorgensen's "Elvis Day By Day" provides a list of numbers that Elvis performed on 22 January, 1955—"Tweedlee Dee" is not included! Interestingly, when Elvis appeared in Lubbock in January 1955, he told a young Waylon Jennings that this number would be his next single.
U.S. Male recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 17 January 1968; Studio
Written by: Hubbard
Originally recorded by Jerry Reed in 1966
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville to Memphis (3)
Jerry Hubbard, the author, is the real name of Jerry Reed. Jerry recorded the original of his own composition, "U.S. Male," on 9 September 1966 in RCA's "Nashville Sound" studio in Nashville. The recording was released in February 1967 on his debut LP, "The Unbelievable Guitar And Voice Of Jerry Reed." Reed also wrote "Guitar Man." Both songs were big hits for Elvis.
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 "Talk About The Good Times."
Unchained Melody recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 24 April 1977; Concert
Written by: North; Zaret
Originally recorded by Les Baxter in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Moody Blue; The Great Performances
Theme music for the film "Unchained," hence the title, though the song was not written for the film. Todd Duncan performed the song in the film, for which he received an Acadamy Award nomination, but Al Hibbler did so for the soundtrack release. Hibbler recorded that version on 4 February 1955 for the Decca label (29441), but the Les Baxter with orchestra and chorus recorded the original on the Capitol label on 17 January 1955. Jimmy Young reached number one in the British charts of 1955 with his own vocal rendition. It is probably one of the most covered songs ever, with hundreds of different versions made since it first appeared.
The Elvis version indicated is the best known of his versions, but an earlier recording by Elvis also exists, dating from 31 December 1976, which can be found on the Follow That Dream collectors label CD "New Year's Eve" 82876 50410-2.
Claims by one William Stirrat that he wrote "Unchained Melody" are probably untrue.
Uncle Pen recorded by Elvis on ?; Studio
Written by: Monroe
Originally recorded by Bill Monroe in 1951
Hear Elvis's version on: unofficial 2-Song CD
"Uncle Pen" is a semi-biographical song about Bill Monroe's uncle and influence, Pendleton Vanderver. There is no absolute certainty that Elvis actually ever recorded this number in the studio. It appeared in the sheet music collection "Elvis' Juke Box Favourites" in 1956 and rumours of a recording made while at Sun continue to do the rounds. However, it does seem probable that a recording of Elvis performing the number live does exist (he is known to have sung it live—he did so on his first appearance at the Louisiana Hayride). A recording has been released on the Suedes label (KEYS 1955-578-1), and when the track was played to Scotty Moore a while back in Denmark, after just a few seconds he said, "It is Elvis and it's me playing the guitar." At least, that's what is written. However, another source indicates that this and the other song on the Suedes release ("Give Me More, More, More Of Your Kisses") are really by Paul Ansell who fronts the group No.9, with some sound effects to "age" the recording.
Until It's Time For You To Go recorded by Elvis on Monday, 17 May 1971; Studio
Written by: Buffy Sainte Marie
Originally recorded by Buffy Sainte Marie in 1965
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Now; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 1
UK readers might remember the late 1965 number 19 UK hit version by The Four Pennies (those of "Juliet" fame). Buffy's own version was released as a single in June 1965 on Vanguard 35028, but with little success.
Buffy Saint"-Marie was a Canadian of Cree Indian extraction, though she was brought up by foster parents in Massachusetts USA. After leaving university with a PHD in Fine Arts, she became part of the Greenwich Village folk scene and signed with Vanguard Records.
Until Then recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 11 December 1976; Concert
Written by: Hamblen
Originally recorded by Stuart Hamblen With Darol Rice Orchestra and Chorus in 1958
Hear Elvis's version on: Slippin' 'n' Slidin'
This number is incorrectly listed as "(Until the Day) God Calls Me Home" on the unofficial "Slippin' 'n' Slidin'" CD.
The original appeared on Hamblen's 1958 LP, "A Visit With Stuart Hamblen" (Sacred LP 8003; in stereo LPS 6009). Stuart Hamblen also wrote "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)" and "Known Only To Him" and recorded them originally: both numbers were recorded by Elvis.
Up Above My Head recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 22 June 1968; Studio
Written by: Tharpe (?)
Originally recorded by Southern Sons in 1941
Hear Elvis's version on: NBC-TV Special
Many sources (and, indeed, her own recordings) list Sister Rosetta Tharpe as reponsible for both music and words for this number. However, Tharpe's own version was only recorded in 1947, whereas a recording by the Southern Sons from 1941 is clearly the same number. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one of the very few artists to successfully juggle a career involving both R&B and gospel music. She was a real early rocker, but she was never really happy with her work outside gospel (she also recorded under the name Sister Kati Marie). Her version of "Up Above My Head" was recorded in duet with Marie Knight.
Violet recorded by Elvis on Friday, 23 August 1968; Studio
Written by: Dueker; Lohstroh
Originally recorded by Shelton Brothers in 1937
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Live A Little, Love A Little/Charro...
Here's a strange little 52-second song from the film "The Trouble With Girls." Strange, not only because of its length, but also because it uses, like "Love Me Tender," the tune of "Aura Lee," the Civil War poem set to music. The original version therefore relates to the earliest known recording of "Aura Lee"—as far as I am aware, nobody recorded "Violet" before Elvis and I don't see why anyone would want to after him... The "violet" here appears to refer to the colour most associated with New York University, hence the reference in the lyrics to "flower of NYU."
Frances Farmer sang "Aura Lee" in the 1936 film "Come and Get It" and this is often cited as the original version. However, I have been unable to find a record release of her number. Therefore I give pride of place to the 1937 recording of "Aura Lee," made by Bob and Joe Shelton on 17 February 1937 and released on the Decca label in 1938. The Shelton brothers were early country performers, who remained active from the early 1930s up to the 1960s.
Walk A Mile In My Shoes recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 19 February 1970; Concert
Written by: South
Originally recorded by Joe South and The Believers in 1969
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 1
Joe South was born Joseph Souter on 28 February, 1940, in Atlanta, Georgia. He first gained some measure of success in the music business when Gene Vincent recorded two of his songs in 1959. His own recording career began about the same time when he played as a studio musician for the National Recording Corporation and cut his first own tracks. Little success and a lot of session work preceded Joe South's 1968 hit, "Games People Play," a success on both sides of the Atlantic, soon to be followed by "Walk A Mile In My Shoes." The latter was taken from South's second album, "Don't It Make You Want To Go Home?"
Walk That Lonesome Valley recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by The Jenkins Family in 1925
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
The Jenkins Family recorded their version of this old song in April 1925 Okeh as "That Lonesome Valley." The song has been recorded by many predominently country artists with varying lyirics and under numerous titles, including "Lonesome Valley," "I've Got To Walk The Lonesome Valley," "That Lonesome Valley," "Walk That Lonesome Valley," "Jesus Walked The Lonesome Valley" and "You Got To Walk That Lonesome Valey." Other artists known to have recorded the song include The Carter Family (1930) and The Monroe Brothers (1936). Elvis visited the Sun studios on December 4th and ended up in a jam session which has become legendary as the "Million Dollar Quartet." Actually, the quartet was a trio (Johnny Cash, the fourth, was present while pictures were being taken, but left before the recordings started according to most sources): Elvis, his friend Carl Perkins, and new Sun artist Jerry Lee Lewis. The three ended up in an informal jam session, which Sam Phillips wisely committed to tape. Most of the numbers sung were, like "Walk That Lonesome Valley," gospels. Jerry Lee sang lead on this track.
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.)
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!
The best site for other originals is probably The Originals Project
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