Covered by Elvis Presley

There’s an art to covering someone else’s song.

Whether you stick to the original or create an entirely new arrangement, it’s up to you to put your own stamp on it.

Elvis Presley could take any song and make it his own.

Elvis’ catalog included songs written especially for him and a collection of cover songs, and no matter what he sang, he always put that special ‘Elvis’ touch on each and every song. He loved all genres of music and sang songs he loved, songs that meant something to him. If Elvis covered your song, it was like the ultimate compliment. It meant he was a fan of your work.

Elvis covered many terrific songs, but for this week’s Graceland Blog, we’ll take a look at just a few fan-favorite covers and covers that meant a lot to Elvis.

“See See Rider”

You can watch Elvis perform "See See Rider" on his "Aloha from Hawaii" special.

You can watch Elvis perform “See See Rider” on his “Aloha from Hawaii” special.

Is it C.C. Rider or See See Rider? Either way, it’s been around a while.

This traditional blues song was originally recorded as “C.C. Rider” by William Lee Conley, or as he was better known, Big Bill Broonzy, in the 1920s. Ma Rainey made it popular in 1925 as the “See See Rider Blues,” and both Ma Rainey and Big Bill’s versions are much slower than Elvis’ version.

Once rock bands took a hold of the song, they sped it up a bit. Both The Animals and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels covered the song (as both “See See” and “C.C.” respectively). LaVern Baker’s 1962 version is sped up, too, but it’s also bluesy.

Elvis’ version is maybe the most energetic version of them all. The king took plenty of cues from Baker’s version when he and his band readied it for his tours. Elvis actually never recorded “See See Rider” for an album, but it was used in his live concerts. You can hear Elvis’ versions of “See See Rider” on “Aloha from Hawaii” and “Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis,” to name a few.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

Elvis recorded his version of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" in the Jungle Room at Graceland, so it's featured on this album as well as "Way Down in the Jungle Room," a 2016 collection of Elvis' Jungle Room sessions.

Elvis recorded his version of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in the Jungle Room at Graceland, so it’s featured on this album as well as “Way Down in the Jungle Room,” a 2016 collection of Elvis’ Jungle Room sessions.

If you think of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” chances are you think of Elvis’ version, or Willie Nelson’s version, or both.

The beautiful country song was written by Fred Rose, who wrote a number of country hits, including a few tunes written with Hank Williams. Roy Acuff first recorded the song in 1947, and Willie Nelson recorded his slower version in 1975. It became a big hit for Willie, and that version is the one that inspired Elvis’ version. He recorded it in the Jungle Room at Graceland on February 7, 1976, and it was included in “From Elvis Presley Boulevard.” That album was released in April 1976 and it reached #1 on the Country Album charts.

The song has been covered a number of times before and since Elvis’ sang it. Artists who have covered this song include Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Conway Twitty and Olivia Newton-John.

“My Way”

"My Way" became a staple at many of Elvis' 1970s concerts.

“My Way” became a staple at many of Elvis’ 1970s concerts.

This show-stopping number is a favorite of both Frank Sinatra and Elvis fans.

Originally titled, “Comme d’Habitude,” the song was written by Gilles Thibault, J. Claude Francois and Jacques Revaux in 1967.

Two years later, Paul Anka used the melody and wrote English lyrics with Frank Sinatra in mind. Sinatra had a major hit with the song, and it became known as a Sinatra hit. Elvis loved the track and covered it in 1973 on “Aloha from Hawaii” and again on his 1977 “Elvis in Concert” special.

Another version, recorded on June 21, 1977, in Rapid City, South Dakota, was released as a single after Elvis’ death in November 1977, and it reached #2 on the Country Singles Chart.

Artists who have covered traditional versions of “My Way” include Julio Iglesias and Robbie Williams. Punk band Sex Pistols also made an infamous version of the song, sped up and with alternate lyrics.

“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”

Elvis' version of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" hit #11 on the Pop Charts.

Elvis’ version of “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” hit #11 on the Pop Charts.

This gorgeous, sweeping track came to us through a song contest.

It was originally written by Vito Pallavicini and Pino Donaggio in 1965 as an entry for an Italian song contest. In Italian, it was known as “Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)” which loosely translates to “I Cannot Live (Without You).”

English lyrics were written by Vicki Wickham and Simon Napier-Bell. Singer Dusty Springfield was the first to record the English version in 1966 on her second album, called “Ev’rything’s Coming Up Dusty,” but after the song became such a huge hit, the album was retitled to “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.”

Like everyone else, Elvis loved the song, and he recorded his own version in Nashville on June 6, 1970. It was released in October 1970 and was another hit for the king.

Other artists who have put their own spin on “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” include Cher, Shelby Lynne and Il Volo.

“Blue Moon of Kentucky”

Bill Monroe's bluegrass waltz, "Blue Moon of Kentucky," got the Sun Studio treatment by Elvis.

Bill Monroe’s bluegrass waltz, “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” got the Sun Studio treatment by Elvis and his band.

If you listen to the original version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” recorded by Bill Monroe in 1947, you might notice it’s pretty different from Elvis’ version.

Monroe, known as the Father of Bluegrass, wrote and recorded the original version of “Blue Moon,” and it’s a sad song about heartbreak.

Elvis’ version is sad, too, but it has a much faster tempo, so the bluegrass tune is turned into a toe-tapping rockabilly song. Elvis recorded the track with Bill Black and Scotty Moore on July 6, 1954, as a flip side for “That’s All Right.” The guys were trying to find a perfect song to accompany “That’s All Right,” when Bill started playing around with the song in the studio. Elvis and Scotty liked what he was doing and joined in, and Sam Phillips pressed the record button. The guys recorded both slow and fast versions, but it’s the up-tempo version that’s on the flip side to “That’s All Right.”

Many artists have covered “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” including Paul McCartney, Patsy Cline, Alan Jackson and Ralph Stanley.

Which of these are you favorites, and why? What are some of your other favorite songs that Elvis covered?

If you want to learn more about Elvis’ incredible music career, visit Graceland! Not only can you tour the king’s castle, but you can also explore all aspects of Elvis’ career. Plan your visit today!


21 Comments

  1. I like all the songs, but my way is my favorite!!

  2. Steve Williams

    As Memphian at 4179 Pikes Peak Ave. Bill Black lived across the Street & added a recording studio. Louis Black, Bill son & I best friends. We enjoyed watching ELVIS, BILL & SCOTTY create Rock

  3. Blue Moon is the most original cover: Elvis does it in such a different way from all the others that it’s still wonderful to hear: spooky and wonderful.
    My Way doesn’t work since Elvis sounds discouraged singing it not triumphant.

  4. of the songs listed…his 1973 live version of My Way and his 1970 cover of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me are my favorites.

    others not listed would be
    Hound Dog
    Fever
    What I’d Say
    Guitar Man
    Gentle On My Mind
    I Really Dont Want To Know
    Make The World Go Away
    There Goes My Everything
    Help Me Make It Theough The Night
    Until Its Time For You To Go
    The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
    Early Mornin’ Rain
    For The Good Times
    You Asked Me To
    He’ll Have To Go
    Pledging My Love
    Unchained Melody

  5. Robert Gibson Corder

    I think that one of the greatest songs Elvis ever recorded was “Reconsider Baby”; however, the public at large has never heard it. It should definitely be issued as a single so as to introduce Elvis to an entirely new audience. Make it happen !!!

  6. I’m shocked that Chuck Willis’ haunting version of C. C. Rider was not mentioned. It was a big hit in the mid to late ’50’s.

  7. gail fabbri

    Blue Moon of Kentucky is my favorite of the ones that are shown. My ultimate favorite is Welcome to My World

  8. John Stone Sr.

    This is really good news of the songs histories. It helps to place beginning of the songs that we have loved and listened to over the years !!! Thank You For Doing This.

  9. I really enjoy reading the histories of Elvis’s songs. Please continue!

  10. Dennis Hauser

    Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Even Paul Simon said after Elvis recorded it, I have to follow that? Paul it’s your song! Crying in the Chapel and Only the Strong Survive. Blue Moon, Hound Dog , That’s Alright Momma.
    Is this a trick article? Its Now or Never, Blue Suede Shoes, Why Me Lord? If You Love Me,Let Me Know. For the Good Times. I Can’t Stop Loving You.
    Polk Salad Annie, Maybe I miss understood this article, Songs Elvis charted with, in that case, most of the songs I listed .
    Songs I’ve enjoyed? All the above. Proud Mary, Never Been to Spain, American Trilogy, Old Shep, U.S.Male.

  11. Louis van Hal

    very interesting, you do this more over other songs

  12. Tony pieris

    I have a number of songs covered by the king as my favourite which include Blue eyes crying in the rain, Spanish eyes, sweet Caroline If you love me let know, Let me be there. There goes my everything and afew more. I just love all of his work.

  13. Lee Strang

    I’ve noticed that all the songs Elvis sang that someone else sang, he not only made them his own but they sounder a lot better. He just could make that extra when singing that really made his songs. I relly like “Hurt” but don’t see it on many of his albums. When was it recorded. Lee

  14. Joanne Lortie

    Any songs the King sang or recorded in his lifetime…He made it his OWN!!

    Long live our King Elvis Presley…you will never ever be forgotten!!

    RIP…We love you still…40 years later!!

  15. Leon'a Wilson-Mann

    ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’, I think because it’s so melancholy, and it is one of the last two songs he ever sang just a few hours before he passed away. Makes me cry every time.

  16. Norton Coll

    Elvis was wonderful and versatil. Why they NEVER released his songs side by side with the originals? (correction)

  17. Michele LeMay

    My Way

  18. JOÃO CARLOS GONÇALVES

    I THINK ELVIS’ RENDERING OF THE SONG ONE NIGHT IN THE FIFTIES IS SIMPLY SUPERB. NOT EVEN HE HIMSELF COULD EVER DUPLICATE THE SPLENDOR OF THE STUDIO VERSION I’M TALKING ABOUT. IF ONE IS IN DOUBT WHY HE IS CALLED THE KING HE SHOULD LISTEN TO THIS VERSION CAREFULLY. IT IS SIMPLY UNIQUE!!!

    • Do you mean the FIRST VERSION EDITED and was called One Night of Sin? I like them both!!!

  19. My way, Elvis recorded in the studio on june 10, 1971, but the song got better every year, some unreleased 1977 versions, partly spoken, are pure magic

  20. Some favorites (there are many….)
    Moody Blue
    It’s easy for you
    Way down
    Danny boy
    What i say (rehearsel 1970)
    Gentle on my mind
    Stranger in my own home town (both versions)

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