Elvis Presley

American Elvis Presley and Welshman Tom Jones got on well together. A sort of mutual admiration society. Did Tom Jones suggest to Elvis that he record Tom’s hit I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, or was it just that Elvis wanted to see if he could outsing the boy from the Valleys? Perhaps he simply liked the number.

Whatever the reason, on 4 February 1976, during what would prove to be Elvis’s last recording session, Elvis attempted the number. This is what Ernst Jorgensen writes about it in his book, Elvis Presley: A Life In Music:

The [Welsh] star had sighed, moaned, purred, and belted his way through the song… Elvis, though, could no longer compete. It wasn’t so much power as tonality that he’d lost, and while he seemed to be trying as hard as he could, it was clear that he could neither hit the notes nor convey the feeling. Discouraged, he set the song aside for later… They did return to finish the Tom Jones song with a reasonable performance, whose shortcomings Felton [Jarvis] made up for in overdub.

And, really, that’s a fair assessment.

Elvis’s version was released on the album From Elvis Presley Boulevard, so called because the recording session actually took place in the Jungle Room of Graceland, situated on Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis.

But what is interesting is that Elvis not only recorded I’ll Never Fall In Love Again; he also recorded, albeit informally, Wanderin’, thereby demonstrating his knowledge of the roots of his music.

Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, you will not find Elvis’s very brief and very informal rendition of Wanderin’ on an official release. Instead, you must go back to the early 1990s, and a bootleg LP called Between The Takes With Elvis (later rereleased as part of a CD set). Quite honestly, the LP is hardly worth listening to, but here at least is the v-e-r-y brief segment of Wanderin’. The date is 17 April 1972, backstage at Little Rock, Arkansas; Lamar Fike, one of Elvis’s aides, starts off and Elvis jumps in with the harmony, followed by a brief tale of how they sang it all night long on one occasion:

An edited version of this clip could not only be heard, but also seen in the film Elvis On Tour, at about 4:40 minutes:

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So the tale is round: from the first appearance of Wanderin’ in print in the USA, thanks to a man of Swedish ancestry, to its metamorphosis, thanks to a Scotsman, into the pop song I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, to its huge success for a Welshman, to its example back in the USA of the failings of a performer reaching the end of his life.

But even there the origin was not forgotten.

© David Neale 2020