Are You Lonesome Tonight

Album: The Top Ten Hits (1960)
Charted: 1 1
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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. The female backing singer who keeps singing as Elvis struggles to regain his composure is Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston's mother.
  • 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.
  • Had Elvis waited just a little longer to record this, it could have ended up being a Connie Francis hit. Francis told DISCoveries Magazine: "One day in 1960 I was going through my collection of Al Jolson and Judy Garland records, and I played Al's 'Are You Lonesome Tonight.' I said, 'Daddy, come listen to this. I could make it a No.1 song.' He agreed and I called Don Costa in to do the arrangement. I said, 'I'm more excited about recording this song than anything I've ever cut.' We were in the car on our way to New York when the radio played Elvis' 'new single,' 'Are You Lonesome Tonight.' Can you believe that? I was literally on my way to the studio to record it. How do you like that? Elvis even did the recitation part just like Al Jolson did."
  • Elvis' version spent six weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 between November 1960 and January 1961.
  • During the song's last week at #1 on the January 2, 1961 chart, Dodie Stevens debuted at #98 with a reworking titled, "Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight." Her reinterpretation eventually reached #60.
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Comments: 8

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaI also understand that this song helped make Elvis acceptable to his peers who were ballad singers.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 17th 1960, Dodie Stevens* performed "Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight" on the NBC-TV program 'Saturday Night Prom"...
    Eight days later on December 25th the song entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for a six week stay; and on January 29th, 1961 it peaked at #60 {for 1 week}...
    She had four other songs make the Top 100; "Pink Shoe Laces" {#3 in 1959}, "Yes-Sir-Ee" {#79 in 1959}, "The Five Pennies" {#89 in 1959}, and "No" {#73 in 1960}...
    * Dodie was 14 years old at the time of her appearance on 'Saturday Night Prom', she was born Geraldine Ann Pasquale on February 17th, 1946.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 8th 1960, Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight" " was in its 2nd of six weeks at #1 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    And also on this day in 1960 teenage rock star Fabian visited Elvis at the Graceland mansion in Memphis, and according to web site http://www.oldiescalendar.blogspot.com Elvis was demonstrating some karate moves and ripped his pants, and Fabian lend his pants to the King...
    Fabian's biggest hit was "Tiger" in 1959; it peaked at #3; while the King managed to have eighteen #1 records and five that peaked at #2.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn 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!!!
  • David from Brunssum, NetherlandsAl Johnson ends the spoken part with the sentence "...in the part of a broken clown". Elvis changed this to "with emptiness all around".
  • Tony from Dordrecht, NetherlandsHe 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 Netherlands
  • Alex from Calgary, CanadaThe 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.
  • Genevieve from Leongatha, AustraliaIn 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?/"
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