Elvis 1950s — the lyrics that changed the world!
Decades after his death in Memphis, Tennessee, Elvis Presley remains the greatest music artist in recording history. Even his most paramount international hit was released a quarter of a century after millions of fans across the globe mourned his 1977 passing.
During the mid-1950s, while Elvis was being discovered, developing his style, and changing culture, he was able to live a semi-normal life. It didn’t take long after Colonel Tom Parker became his manager and brokered a deal for RCA-Victor Records to buy out Elvis’s contract from Sam Phillips at Sun Records, that the teenager singer’s life somewhat isolated because of his incredible fame.
The Elvis jukebox includes songs of fun, adventure, wager, dance, separation, relationships, war, lust, society, heartbreak, dreams, and the universal language of love. His recordings all started with Sam Phillips. In 1950, Phillips opened his Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue where he began producing records for B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Ike Turner. Phillips helped seed the beginnings of Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll as he blended the southern sounds of country, blues, gospel, pop and jazz in his studio he then called Sun Records.
When young Elvis opened the front door into Sun Records in 1954 to record a birthday present song for his mother, the history of the world changed forever. Later, the savvy Phillips would make certain each Presley record had two distinct sides on each disc. Side A would usually be solid-driving rockabilly song to counter the flipped side B that featured a softer country style tune. The brilliant strategy helped Elvis records to sell to pop, blues, and country markets.
The first Elvis song to make it to a number one spot on the chart was a country song, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.” The other side of the record was “Mystery Train.” Not many people recognize now that “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” was not only his first big hit, it remained at the top of the country charts for 28-weeks, longer than any of his records ever. It was also Elvis’ last record for Sun Records. Just as interesting, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” started a phenomenon unsurpassed in music history. It became the first record of many that Elvis would release to be knocked off the top of the charts by another of his songs. In this case it was his first RCA release, “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Five best lyrics of Elvis Presley songs of the 1950s
(click title to hear)
“The warden threw a party in the county jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
The band was jumpin’ and the joint began to swing
You should’ve heard those knocked out jailbirds sing
Everybody, let’s rock
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock”
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller had been in New York for almost a week to work on songs for Elvis’s third movie, “Jailhouse Rock” when big Jean Aberbach of Elvis Presley Music barged into their Manhattan hotel suite. When the songwriting duo told Aberbach they had not written any songs yet, the towering figure shoved a large couch in front of the exit door.
“You are not leaving this room until you finish the songs and place them in my hands,” Aberbach told them. Lieber and Stoller started writing at 2 p.m. By 6 p.m. “Jailhouse Rock,” “Treat Me Nice,” “I Want to Be Free,” and “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care” were placed in Aberbach’s hands. “Jaillhouse Rock” became the first song in British chart history to debut at the number one spot. For over half of 1957, Elvis had a song sitting at the top of the charts.
“Love me tender, love me dear
Tell me you are mine
I’ll be yours through all the years
Till the end of time
Love me tender, love me true
All my dreams fulfill
For my darling’, I love you
And I always will”
One of Elvis’s most recognizable songs, “Love Me Tender” is based on the music of the Civil War song “Aura Lee,” published in 1861. Ken Darby, who helped with musical arrangements for The Wizard of Oz and won an Oscar for the music in The King and I, was chosen to be the music director of Elvis’ first movie. He penned four songs for the film, but used his wife’s name, Vera Watson as a co-writer with Elvis.
It has the distinction of being one of the few songs in history to be credited by two people who did not even write it. Elvis previewed the song on September 9, 1956 on The Ed Sullivan Show television program. It became an instant classic with pre-production orders totaling over 1 million.
“My tongue gets tied when I try to speak
My insides shake like a leaf on a tree
There’s only one cure for this body of mine
That’s to have the girl that I love so fine
She touched my hand what a chill I got
Her lips are like a volcano that’s hot
I’m proud to say that she’s my buttercup
I’m in love, I’m all shook up, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah yeah I’m all shook up!”
Otis Blackwell always said he could write a song about anything. People would often challenge him. In the fall of 1957, Aaron “Goldie” Goldmark put a nickel in a Pepsi-Cola vending machine, but dropped it on the floor as he tried to retrieve it. He placed it on Blackwell’s desk and challenged him to write a song about the fizzing bottle. Blackwell wrote “All Shook Up” while the bottle of pop was still cold. According to Billboard it was the bestselling and most-played record of 1957.
“Don’t stop thinking of me
Don’t make me feel this way
Come on over here and love me
You know what I want you to say
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true
Why should we be apart?
I really love you baby, cross my heart
Let’s walk up to the preacher
And let us say I do
Then you’ll know you’ll have me
And I’ll know that I’ll have you
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love
Baby, it’s just you I’m thinking of”
One of the biggest mysteries in Rock n’ Roll history is which song, “Hound Dog” or “Don’t Be Cruel” was more popular. No one really knows for certain. They were on the flip sides of the 1956 release. On his September 9, 1956 performance of The Ed Sullivan Show, he sang both songs. It was written by Otis Blackwell.
“Well, since my baby left me
I found a new place to dwell
It’s down at the end of lonely street
At Heartbreak Hotel
I’ve been so lonely baby
Well, I’m so lonely
Well, I’m so lonely I could die”
Elvis’s first recording for RCA-Victor Records was on January 10, 1956 in RCA Studio B in Nashville. Elvis reached into his soul to create a mournful and painful song, “Heartbreak Hotel” which would be a phenomenal hit. It was literally inspired by a desperate man’s suicide note, written by a school teacher, Mae Axton, and an almost forgotten aspiring singer named Tommy Durden.