A list of Elvis Presley songs is a walk through music history. The King had a staggering 18 number one hits and 40 top ten hits in the US alone in his career, and his music catalog is one of the most recognized in the world.
List of Elvis Presley Songs
Which of these Elvis mega-hits ranks among your favorites?
Heartbreak Hotel was not Elvis' first single - that title goes to That's All Right - but it was his first single to be released on a national label. Released in 1956, it was also his first number one single. The song was penned by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton, who was a high school teacher at the time. Durden and Axton wrote the song after reading an article in the Miami Herald about a man who had committed suicide by jumping from a hotel window. The man's suicide note simply said, "I walk a lonely street."
Blue Suede Shoes
Blue Suede Shoes was originally recorded by Carl Perkins, but it was Elvis' cover that became the standard version of the song. The inspiration for the track originally came from Johnny Cash. When Cash, Perkins and Elvis were on tour together, Cash shared a story from his Air Force days about a fellow airman who referred to military issue shoes as "blue suede shoes." Cash urged Perkins to use the idea for a song, but Perkins refused.
Then, during a set one night, Perkins noticed a couple dancing near the stage. The man was wearing blue suede shoes, and Perkins heard him warn his date to stay off of his shoes. He wrote the song after the show.
Hound Dog was written by famed songwriting duo Leiber and Stoller for Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton. Thornton's blues version of the track was popular, and it became a popular cover song, with musicians putting their own spin on the track. Elvis picked up on it and added it to his set, mainly to get a few audience laughs.
The song became no laughing matter when he performed it on the Milton Berle Show, complete with the gyrating dance he had devised for the song. That performance was watched by 40 million people, and many were outraged at his suggestive dancing. It was this performance of Hound Dog that helped him earn his nickname, Elvis the Pelvis.
Love Me Tender
Love Me Tender was recorded for a film of the same name - a format that would become typical of Elvis' career. This was also one of the first songs to be published by Elvis Presley Music and the first song with which Elvis started a practice that made him unpopular among songwriters. Despite not writing a note of the song, Elvis received co-songwriting credit. Going forward, Elvis would demand 50 percent of the songwriting royalties from any songwriter who wanted him to record their song.
Love Me Tender is one of Elvis' most covered tracks.
Can't Help Falling in Love with You
Can't Help Falling in Love with You is Elvis' most covered song. This ballad was recorded for Elvis' film Blue Hawaii and marked the first time Elvis made it onto the Easy Listening charts.
In the Ghetto
When In the Ghetto was released in 1969, Elvis' career was almost a faded memory. This song was a major comeback for him, not to mention a major departure from his usual light and airy pop fare. The song tells a story of a child born into poverty in a ghetto in Chicago who eventually grows up and is shot while another child is being born into the same situation.
The social message of the song resonated with audiences at the time, and it became Elvis' first top ten hit in four years. Ironically, his management team urged him not to record the song and said it would alienate his fans and end his career.
Suspicious Minds was Elvis' last US mainstream number one single but one one of his most enduringly popular songs. The song was written by Mark James, who also recorded it with the intention of releasing it himself. The label didn't like James' take on the track and instead insisted that Elvis record it.
This song, released in June 1977, was the last Elvis single to be released before his death. After his death, it reached number one on the US Country and UK Pop charts. Gospel singer J.D. Sumner features on the single, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, on the song, Sumner hits the lowest note ever to be recorded by a human voice (a double low C).
More Elvis Songs
No Elvis collection would be complete without these tracks:
- Blue Moon of Kentucky
- Don't Be Cruel
- All Shook Up
- Jailhouse Rock
- Hard Headed Woman
- It's Now or Never
- Return to Sender
- You're The Devil in Disguise
- Viva Las Vegas
- Kentucky Rain
- Burning Love
- Promised Land
- My Boy
- An American Trilogy
- A Little Less Conversation
Listen to Elvis Songs
You can hear all of Elvis' hits, plus his lesser known tracks, on Last.fm's Elvis Presley Radio.