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Are You Lonesome Tonight by Elvis Presley

Album: The Top Ten HitsReleased: 1960Charted:
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  • This song was written in 1926 by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Roy Turk and Lou Handman. It was a hit in 1927 for a number of artists including Vaughan Deleath (A female despite the name), Henry Burr and Gene Austin. In 1950 it was revived by the bandleader Blue Barron with his vocalist Bobby Beers, and Al Jolson cut a version in 1953. Elvis' manager Colonel Parker asked him to try the song because it was a favorite of Parker's wife, Marie.
  • Elvis did not believe he could do the song justice and asked for the tape to be thrown out. Steve Sholes, the RCA producer at the recording session, believed the recording would be a hit and directed its release.
  • Elvis had the studio lights completely turned off while recording the song. As he finished, Elvis blundered into a chair, knocking it over, and the sound can be heard if you listen to the record on headphones.
  • Elvis' arrangement is generally considered closest to the arrangement of Blue Barron and his Orchestra. Elvis' narration is modified from the original narration of the Blue Barron release (which was later copied by Al Jolson).
  • The famous "Laughing Version" came from a 1969 Las Vegas performance unofficially recorded, and was released years after Elvis' death.
  • Producer Bill Porter drenched the first take in echo by mistake but didn't say anything because he figured there would be more attempts. However, all they did was record the end part over again due to a mistake on the guitar and what the listener hears is basically take one.
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Comments: 5

In 1961 an answer record was released, "Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight", by Thelma Carpenter and Dodie Stevens. Carpenter's version peaked at #55 while Stevens' reached #60!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Al Johnson ends the spoken part with the sentence "...in the part of a broken clown". Elvis changed this to "with emptiness all around".David - Brunssum, Netherlands
He also used the "the bald head" lyric on June 25th 1968, during the rehearsals, for his upcoming NBC Special, wich can be heared on the Follow That Dream release "Let Yourself Go"! -Tony Versluis, Dordrecht, The NetherlandsTony - Dordrecht, Netherlands
The 1969 "laughing version" is the only version known in which Elvis used the "bald head" lyric. And it was in fact recorded officially by RCA, not unofficially. It was recorded along with other performances that were released on the Live at the International Hotel album, which included a non-laughing performance of this song recorded on another night. RCA released the "laughing versoin" for the first time in 1979. And it should not be confused with a similarly messed up version (apparently intentional) recorded in 1977 for the Elvis in Concert special and album.Alex - Calgary, Canada
In some live versions Elvis would change the line:
"Do you gaze at your doorstep/
And picture me there?/"
to:
"Do you gaze at your bald head/
And wish you had hair?/"
Genevieve - Leongatha, Australia