Covered by Elvis Presley, Part 2

Elvis Presley was a lot of things – a singer, the world’s greatest entertainer, an actor, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – but he was also a music fan.

Elvis loved all different kinds of music, from gospel to blues to rock ‘n’ roll to country. You could tell if Elvis loved a song you’d written and released because he’d cover it himself.

While Elvis sang plenty of songs written just for him, he also made a habit of covering songs he liked throughout his career. If he really liked your tune, you might hear it in concert or on an album.

In this series on the Graceland Blog, we’re discussing some of the tunes that Elvis covered and made his own. Check out the first part of this series here.

Get to know a few of these songs a bit better – find out who wrote them, when Elvis covered them and more.

“Polk Salad Annie”

The documentary "Elvis: That's The Way It Is" was Elvis' first non-dramatic movie.

The documentary “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” was Elvis’ first non-dramatic movie.

Louisiana native Tony Joe White wrote and performed the song in 1968. Elvis jumped on the tune quickly: He introduced the swamp rock jam to his live shows in 1969, and it quickly became a concert staple. You can find his live versions of “Polk Salad Annie” on albums like “On Stage,” “Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden,” and the “That’s The Way It Is” soundtrack.

A number of artists have sang the story of “Polk Salad Annie,” including Tom Jones and Los Lonely Boys.

“Solitaire”

"From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee," was released in May 1976.

“From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee,” was released in May 1976.

This lovely, but sorrowful, song was first recorded in 1972 by Neil Sedaka, who co-wrote this song with Phil Cody. The Carpenters covered it a few years later in 1975 – which may be the best-known version of the song – and Elvis recorded it in February 1976.

Elvis recorded the song in the famous Jungle Room at Graceland. The track can be heard on the “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” album, as well as in the 2016 release, “Way Down in the Jungle Room,” a compilation of Elvis’ Jungle Room sessions.

Other artists who have tackled the song include Sheryl Crow, Johnny Mathis, The Searchers and Andy Williams. The lyrics are sometimes changed in a few of these versions, too.

“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

Other cover songs included on this album include "Hey Jude" and "Until It's Time for You to Go."

Other cover songs included on this album include “Hey Jude” and “Until It’s Time for You to Go.”

This moving love song was written by folk singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for singer Peggy Seeger (who he later married).

Elvis, inspired by the Peter, Paul and Mary version, recorded his own take “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in 1971 in Nashville. You can find Elvis’ versions of the song on the FTD releases of “Elvis Now” and “Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.”

Roberta Flack made the song famous in 1972. Her version has been used in many movies and television shows, including “Mad Men,” Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, “Play Misty For Me” and an X-Men movie. Numerous artists have recorded their own versions, including Johnny Cash, Leona Lewis, Celine Dion, Gordon Lightfoot, Harry Connick Jr. and George Michael.

“Why Me Lord”

Elvis' live album, "As Recorded Live in Memphis, Tennessee," was released in the summer of '74.

Elvis’ live album, “As Recorded Live in Memphis, Tennessee,” was released in the summer of ’74.

Elvis and J.D. Sumner & the Stamps covered this Kris Kristofferson gospel tune in March 1974 at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis – and that show became “Elvis as Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.” That show was a bit of a homecoming show for Elvis, as he hadn’t performed in the Bluff City since 1961. Elvis introduced the song, calling it one of his favorites.

Kristofferson wrote and recorded “Why Me” in 1972, and it became one of his biggest hits. A number of country and gospel artists have recorded their own versions of “Why Me,” including Merle Haggard, George Jones, Johnny Cash, the David Crowder Band and CeCe Winans.

Which of these tunes are your favorites? Remember – you can buy some of your favorite Elvis albums now on Shop Graceland.

Dig deep into Elvis’ incredible career at Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum here at Graceland. You can see all of his Gold Records, his famous jumpsuits and much, much, much more – start planning your visit now!


14 Comments

  1. I like both Polk salad Annie and Solitaire,great songs!

  2. Terrina C Rush

    love the newsletter or site info. Thank you so very much…merci beaucoup and mahalo…t

  3. Howard Sparber

    Why Me Lord!! Love all his Gospel!Peace in the Valley is right up there! Also If I Could Dream and American Trilogy are my favorites!!!!

  4. Gary Wells

    Gotta love “Polk Salad Annie”, one of his best concert tunes ever. “Why Me, Lord” is his as well but the others here are actually meh. His greatest ever cover doesn’t appear on either list. The soul and guts and depth that he brings to “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” is absolutely unreal. It is the PERFECT example of what he always did best.

  5. Gloria Jean Madalena

    Thanks for the memories

  6. David K Henderson of Potts Camp

    Dear Graceland,
    Re: Elvis Covers.
    Thanks for this terrific retro-spective article. Thanks again for great writing on a loved topic.
    s/dkh

    – 30 –

  7. Danny Pasatiempo

    I have all those Songs / Albums and all with heart warming flash backs. When I’m really down, Elvis’s music is my medicine. It’s not a drug, it won’t kill me
    and Elvis’s MUSIC ALWAYS touches my soul in good ways.

    THANK YOU AND MAY GOD ALWAYS BLESS YOU, ELVIS

  8. Diane Kelley

    Actually Elvis didn’t start including Polk Salad Annie in his shows until Feb. 1970. Great blog though and Elvis could sing anyone’s songs and make them his own!

  9. Mary Alice Pena-Lopez

    Elvis is the most popular and most beloved entertainer in the Universe. His inspiration came from God! He sounds different and beautiful in every song that I have heard, and that’s a lot, yet you know no one could sing it like Elvis, so you know it is Elvis! I am so glad that God let me be born around Elvis time.
    I can’t imagine my life without him…..Thank you Elvis, my husband, family, and friends love you!

  10. Jacqueline

    My favorite gospel song is “Why Me Lord”. He showed so much emotion while he sang it. He always made you feel he was singing to you. I loved how much he loved Priscilla and Lisa Marie, he showed it in photos taken in his private home. I will always love his music and the handsome man he was. There’s only one Elvis Presley.

  11. stephen stathis

    Why Me Lord: EP never did a bad gospel song. After buying and listening to his music for over fifty years, it’s his gospel music that now stands out as providing meaning and spiritual depth.

  12. EP never did a bad gospel song. Help Me was his cry for help.

  13. Dennis Peck

    Two great Elvis covers not mentioned in the blog are Paul Simon’s
    “Bridge over Troubled Water” and The Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me.”

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