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After the success of his song "Blue on Blue" (#3 in mid-1963), Vinton decided to record an album of "Blue" songs ("Blue Moon," "Blue Hawaii," "Am I Blue," etc). As he was picking up sheet music in Nashville, Vinton received a gift from publisher Al Gallico: a copy of "Blue Velvet," which in 1951 was the last major hit for Tony Bennett. The song fit very well with Vinton's project, as every song on the album had "Blue" in the title.
This was considered a throwaway, recorded in only two takes. Vinton was not impressed with the recording, but Epic Records released it as a single in response to popular demand. His recording caught on and is considered the definitive version.
Written by Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris, the song had also been recorded by The Clovers in 1955. Other artists to record the song include Sammy Davis, Jr., The Countdown Singers, Jackie Gleason, Brenda Lee, The Lettermen, Barry Manilow, The Moonglows, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1986, a movie called Blue Velvet, directed by David Lynch, was released. This song had a prominent role - it was used in a gruesome scene where we discover a human ear that had been cut off someone's head. The song completely contradicted the mood of the scene, which apparently was the point. The movie brought the song to a new audience, although it was now associated with a severed ear.
Vinton's version stalled at #33 in the UK in 1963 - however, on reissue in 1990 it peaked at #2, and, by some amazing coincidence, at one point it occupied at chart slot adjacent to a near-namesake: Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet
." (thanks, Dave- Cardiff, Wales)
A cover by Lana Del Rey soundtracked a commercial for clothing company H&M. Del Rey's version also featured on the re-release of her 2012 debut album, Born To Die.
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