One of the most iconic, influential musicians to ever live and an avid fan of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Elvis Presley was a gospel singer from Memphis, Tennessee. Commonly known as the “King of Rock and Roll,” Presley started his music career in the ‘50s and went on to leave a lasting legacy as a pioneer of rock and roll. This year, Elvis Week kicked off on Aug. 11 and will wrap up on Aug. 15 with the Elvis Candlelight Vigil at the Graceland front gate in Memphis.
For those of you who are celebrating the life of Elvis Presley outside of Tennessee, here are 11 classic songs to listen to.
1. “Heartbreak Hotel” – 1956
Released as a single and eventually becoming his first No. 1 hit, “Heartbreak Hotel” features Presley’s signature, crooning vocals and evolved into one of the most well-known songs he produced. Even members of the Beatles also recalled listening to the track when they were teenagers.
2. “All Shook Up” – 1957
Propelled by a steady beat and repetitive melody, this 1957 hit describes one of the most common themes of rock ‘n’ roll – love. The King talks sings about all the symptoms of being in love, from acting like a fool to shaking hands to becoming tongue-tied.
3. “A Little Less Conversation” – 1968
This track was originally in the 1968 film “Live a Little, Love a Little,” a light-hearted comedy featuring none other than Elvis himself. The song opens with its catchy chorus as Presley sings, “A little more bite and a little less bark” and “A little less fight and a little more spark.”
4. “Return to Sender” – 1962
Though the situation might be less familiar to those living in 2018, “Return to Sender” depicts a man’s frustration when his girlfriend insists on writing “return to sender” on the letters he sends to her.
5. “(You’re The) Devil in Disguise” – 1963
Fast-paced and incredibly energetic, this single made it to No. 3 and tells the tale of an erroneous and misguided relationship. Though the subject walks and talks “like an angel,” they turn out to be “the devil in disguise,” ultimately cheating on their significant other.
6. “Hound Dog” – 1956
Though originally recorded as a twelve-bar by Willie Mae Thornton in the early 1950s, Presley’s cover is the best-known version. He performed the tune on the famous “Ed Sullivan Show.” However, because Presley often moved his hips in a “sexual” way, he was only filmed from the waist up.
7. “Stuck On You” – 1960
After Presley was discharged from the United States Army, he returned with “Stuck On You,” a quick single that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. The track recounts an individual’s unrelenting love for his partner.
8. “Don’t Be Cruel” – 1956
This track is still just as relevant today as it was in the later 1950s. Nobody likes to be stood up, least of all The King. “If you can’t come around,” Elvis pleads, “at least please telephone. Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.”
9. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” – 1961
Featured in one of the most well-known Elvis films, “Blue Hawaii,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is also one of the most widely covered songs. Artists from Ingrid Michaelson to Bob Dylan to Twenty One Pilots have created their own renditions of the lovely ballad.
10. “Love Me Tender” – 1956
This tune was also performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of 1956. A soft ballad, “Love Me Tender” puts Elvis’ crooning vocals in the limelight while the slow strumming of a guitar keeps the track plugging forward.
11. “Blue Moon” – 1954
A ballad originally produced in 1934, Presley’s heart-stopping falsetto gives his version some personality. It’s also been famously recorded by big shots in the jazz scene, like Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.