Thursday, November 3, 2016

Today in Music (1956): Elvis Presley hit #1 with "Love Me Tender"

Love Me Tender

Elvis Presley

Writer(s): Ken Darby (words), George R. Poulton (music) (see lyrics here)

Released: September 28, 1956

First Charted: October 13, 1956

Peak: 15 US, 15 HP, 15 CB, 11 HR, 3 CW, 3 RB, 11 UK, 6 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.5 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 50.4 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The song was recorded for an Elvis movie originally to be called The Reno Brothers. This was the first of 31 movies Elvis made. He originally had a smaller role, but it was expanded when he achieved massive stardom. SF The song’s success also led to the movie being retitled Love Me Tender. The song garnered more than a million advance orders a month before the movie’s release. WK

Ken Darby was the musical director for the film, which is set during the Civil War. Because of that he sought out songs from the era. For “Love Me Tender” he adapted a melody from a Civil War ballad called “Aura Lee.” SF The song, published in 1861, had entered the public domain. WK The original was composed by George R. Poulton with words by W.W. Fosdick. WK

Strangely, though, none of their names appeared on the original credits. The lyrics were credited to Darby’s wife, Vera Matson. Meanwhile, Presley had a publishing deal that gave him 50% of the credit on songs he recorded. This gave him songwriting royalties even though he typically had nothing to do with the creation of the songs. WK However, he did often change arrangements and lyrics in the studio. WK Regarding “Love Me Tender,” Darby said, “Elvis has the most terrific ear of anyone I have ever met…All I had to do was play the song for him once and he made it his own!” WK

There were other chart versions by Richard Chamberlain (1962, #21) Henri Rene (1956, #44) and Percy Sledge (1967, #40). Among the artists who also recorded and/or performed the song are Julie Andrews and Johnny Cash, Tony Bennett, Andrea Bocelli, James Brown, Petula Clark, Nat “King” Cole, Connie Francis, Norah Jones, Albert King, B.B. King, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Ricky Nelson, Willie Nelson, the Platters, Cliff Richard, Marty Robbins, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and B.J. Thomas. WK


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First posted 10/4/2021; last updated 10/30/2023.

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