Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Love Songs

There’s no better time than now to enjoy Elvis’ love songs. After all, it’s February, and Valentine’s Day is only days away.

Here on the Graceland Blog, we have an Elvis’ #1 hits series that digs deep into the king’s biggest hits, who wrote them, who played on them and more. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. Now, for part 5, we’re taking a look at a handful of Elvis love songs as an early celebration of Valentine’s Day. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll recorded countless love songs, so we just chose a few for this edition. But be sure to tell us your favorite Elvis love song in the comments!

Let’s get to know these lovely love songs a bit better!

“Can’t Help Falling in Love”

The "Blue Hawaii" soundtrack featured hits like "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and "Rock-a-Hula Baby."

The “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack featured hits like “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song” and “Rock-a-Hula Baby.”

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea

Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be

Elvis’ beautiful performance of this song makes it the legendary classic that it is. But did you know this song actually has quite a history all its own?

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” is based on an 18th century French classic called “Plaisir d’Amor,” originally penned by Giovanni Martini. The song, as recorded by Elvis, was written by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, and it’s fairly faithful to the original version.

Elvis recorded “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on March 23, 1961 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood for the “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack. Musicians on this session include Scotty Moore and Hank Garland on guitar; Bob Moore on bass; DJ Fontana, Hal Blaine and Bernie Mettinson on drums; Floyd Cramer on piano; Dudley Brooks on piano and celeste; Boots Randolph on saxophone; George Fields on harmonica; Alvino Ray on steel guitar; and Fred Tavares and Bernie Lewis on ukulele. The Jordanaires provided back-up vocals, along with a group called The Surfers, made up of Patrick Sylvia, Bernard Ching, Clayton Naluai and Alan Naluai.

During Elvis’ touring years, from 1969-1977, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was Elvis’ signature closing song at his concerts.

“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” with “Rock-a-Hula Baby” on the flip side, was released in November 1961. This fan favorite hit No. 2 in its 14-week run on the Billboard pop singles chart. It stayed on the British pop singles chart for four weeks, and it topped the charts.

This is one of Elvis’ most covered tunes. Artists who have covered this song include Bob Dylan, Michael Buble (who is featured in our Icons exhibit!), Beck, Julio Iglesias, Pentatonix, Meghan Trainor, Perfume Genius, Ingrid Michaelson, Chris Isaak, Andrea Bocelli, UB40, Harry Connick Jr., Bono, Rick Astley and Arlo Guthrie.

“(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”

Elvis stars as up-and-coming singer Deke Rivers in "Loving You."

Elvis stars as up-and-coming singer Deke Rivers in “Loving You.”

Baby let me be around you every night
Run your fingers through my hair
And cuddle me real tight
Oh let me be (oh let him be)
Your teddy bear

As any good Elvis fan knows, this song is featured in Elvis’ second film, “Loving You.” Elvis recorded this song, which was written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe, in January 1957 at Paramount Scoring Stage in Hollywood.

When Elvis recorded the soundtrack for his first movie, he recorded in a big Hollywood soundstage, and without his band and back-up singers. But for his second movie soundtrack, he was able to have his own group record with him. The sessions still took place in a large soundstage in Hollywood, which Elvis found frustrating, but he still managed to knock out hit tunes. Elvis’ band and singers, The Jordanaires, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana joined Elvis for the “Loving You” sessions. They were joined by two session musicians who would continue to record with Elvis through the 1960s: Himer J. “Tiny” Timbrell on rhythm guitar and Dudley Brooks on piano. Hoyt Hawkins and Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires also played piano for a few songs.

The 13th take of “Teddy Bear” was used as the single. It shipped in June 1957 with the movie’s title song, “Loving You,” on the flip side. “Teddy Bear” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart and country singles chart, spending 25 weeks on the pop chart and 16 weeks on the country chart. It peaked at No. 3 on the British pop singles chart, where it enjoyed a 19-week run.

ZZ Top covered “Teddy Bear” as a slow, bluesy song. Several artists have covered it for children’s albums.

“It’s Now or Never”

"it's Now or Never" was released a few months after Elvis returned home from active duty in the Army.

“it’s Now or Never” was released a few months after Elvis returned home from active duty in the Army.

It’s now or never,
Come hold me tight
Kiss me my darling,
Be mine tonight
Tomorrow will be too late,
It’s now or never
My love won’t wait

This lovely Elvis love song goes way back.

“It’s Now or Never” was based on “O Sole Mio” (“My Sunshine”) written in 1901 by G. Capurro and Edwardo di Capua. That song was recorded by both Enrico Caruso and Mario Lanza, and Elvis was a fan of both singers.

While Elvis served in the Army, he heard and fell in love with Tony Martin’s version, “There’s No Tomorrow.” When music publishing associate Freddie Bienstock visited Elvis in Germany, Elvis mentioned that he’d like to sing a version of the song, too. Bienstock returned to the U.S. and asked songwriters Wally Gold and Aaron Schroeder to write a new version, which became “It’s Now or Never.”

The same musicians that played on “Stuck on You” also played on this tune, along with Boots Randolph on saxophone. Take 4 of “It’s Now or Never” was selected as the single, and it was released in July 1960. “A Mess of Blues” was on the flip side. “It’s Now or Never” topped the Billboard pop singles chart for 5 weeks and remained on the charts for 20 weeks. It reached No. 7 on the R&B charts, where it stayed for 7 weeks. It hit No. 1 on the British pop singles chart and had a 19-week run.

In several of Elvis’ concerts in the 70s, Elvis would feature tenor Sherrill Nielsen sing the Italian lyrics to “O Sole Mio” as a lead in to singing “It’s Now or Never.”

Actor and singer John Schneider (perhaps best known as Bo Duke from “The Dukes of Hazzard”) covered the song in the 80s, and Scottish band Wet Wet Wet recorded a version for an Elvis tribute special.

“Surrender”

"Surrender" is one of Elvis' most popular love songs.

“Surrender” is one of Elvis’ most popular love songs.

Won’t you please surrender to me
Your lips, your arms, your heart, dear
Be mine forever
Be mine tonight

The success of “It’s Now or Never” inspired this next Elvis hit.

Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman rewrote the 1911 Italian ballad “Torna a Sorrento” by G.D. de Curtis and Ernesto de Curtis. Dean Martin recorded a version of that song in 1952.

Elvis recorded “Surrender” on October 30, 1960 at RCA Studio B in Nashville. Musicians on this track include Scotty Moore, Hank Garland and Elvis on guitar; Bob Moore on bass; DJ Fontana and Buddy Harman on drums; Floyd Cramer on piano; Boots Randolph on sax; and The Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham on vocals.

The single was released in February 1961, and “Lonely Man” was on the flip side. The song topped the charts in both the USA and UK – it peaked at No. 1 for two weeks in its 12-week run on the Billboard pop charts, and it hit No. 1 for 4 weeks of its 15-week run on the British pop singles chart.

What’s your favorite Elvis love song?

Fall in love with the king when you visit Graceland! You can explore his beloved Graceland mansion, check out his lush Pink Cadillac, get your mind blown by all of his Gold Records, and so much more. (ps – Graceland is a great place to propose or get married, too!)


8 Comments

  1. Diane Dillon

    “Can’t Help Falling in Love”

  2. stephen stathis

    They Remind Me Too Much of You from World’s Fair. Beautiful Song. Doin’ the Best I Can from GI Blues too.

  3. My favorite Elvis recording is ” Can’t Help Falling in Love”. This song was sung at my wedding and was our first dance at the reception in November 1985.

  4. Teri Mahon

    My favorite love song by Elvis is Girl of Mine

  5. Pieter Kraak

    I love the ‘love gone wrong’ ballads from the 70’s but my favorite love song is First In Line.

  6. Can’t Help Falling in Love

  7. I like It’s Now or Never

  8. Cheri Huie-Vickery

    Can’t help falling in love is a favorite of mine.But every time I saw a concert on tv or when I got to see Elvis in person it always made me cry.Because it meant the concert was over.My time with Elvis was over too.

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