42) Elvis Presley – “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

So far on No Hard Chords, the King has managed to keep a nice solid score of 7 for his Hot 100 hits.  Neither “A Big Hunk o’ Love,” nor “Stuck on You,” nor “It’s Now or Never” are among Presley’s very best songs, but they’re all worthy entries at the top of the charts.  And then comes “Are You Lonesome Tonight.”  The part of the track that’s actually the song is sentimental but not bad.  It has a pretty melody well-served by Presley’s aching voice.  But the bulk of the single is a bizarre, spoken word piece of Shakespeare-referencing bad poetry that goes on forever:  “Now the stage is bare, and I’m standing there, with emptiness all around,” he whimpers as he stretches an already thin metaphor to the breaking point.  It would be understandable if the single were released during Elvis’s bloated Vegas years, but while he’s still young and (relatively) rocking, it’s an unusual choice, to say the least.  5

Hit #1 on November 28, 1960; total of 6 weeks at #1
42 of 965 #1’s reviewed; 4.35% through the Hot 100

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4 Comments

Filed under 05, 1960, 1961

4 responses to “42) Elvis Presley – “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

  1. bob

    I think it bears mentioning that “Are You Lonesome Tonight” is a song from the 1920s that was recorded by several people, (Minus the meandering song speech), before Elvis got a hold of it.

  2. Eddie George

    # 5 ?????

    Don’t tell that to the girls at the Moose Lodge !

  3. EricW

    The recitation was introduced in a 1950 recording by Blue Barron and His Orchestra (with spoken interjection by DJ John McCormick). Al Jolson’s version–with the same recitation–was recorded a few weeks later, and knowing Elvis, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jolson’s recording was the one that he heard.

    Anyway, for posterity, here’s Barron…and McCormick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuKnuzYYdA0

  4. GeorgeL

    I never understood the appeal of this song. I thought it was downright awful.

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