A few years ago, my friend Alan Hanson listed Elvis Presley’s 20 Greatest Recordings on his Elvis-History-Blog. This past August, another Elvis-blogger-buddy Troy Yeary presented his picks for the top 100 Elvis songs on his Mystery Train Elvis blog. I noticed only two songs were on both of their top 10 – “Jailhouse Rock” and “Reconsider Baby.” These two guys are genuine Elvis fans and they really know their stuff, but their opinions differed greatly.
So, I thought about what songs would be on my Elvis Top 10 list. Rather than trying to make a subjective analysis, my list would just be my favorites. My personal prejudices would certainly show up. I grew up in the late fifties and strongly believe Elvis made his best music in the years before going in the Army. I really don’t care for much of Elvis’ music from the seventies – not really rock and roll, too many horns and fancy arrangements. And, I have become a great blues fan for the past twenty years, so I have sought out Elvis’ blues offerings over his career and made a playlist out of them. And finally, I have listened to some Elvis hits so many times that I’ve grown tired of them.
With all that explained, here are the selections for my personal Top 10 Elvis songs
#10: I Was The One
This song has been a favorite since I was a teenager in the late 50s. We had lots of parties, and we played records and danced to them for hours. We’d stack up seven or eight 45s on those little record players. When the last 45 dropped down and finished playing, we would pick up the whole stack and flip them over. So, in addition to listening “Heartbreak Hotel,” we would also slow dance to the flip side, “I Was The One.” I remember getting close and lovey with girls while dancing to this song, an important prequel to the make-out sessions that followed later. To this day, whenever I hear ‘I Was The One,” I get all warm and fuzzy.
#9: Santa Claus Is Back In Town
Like most fans, I pull out the CDs of Elvis Christmas songs every December. There is one song that always stands out for me, “Santa Claus is Back in Town.” I’m so glad the Christmas season gives me a chance each year to reconnect with this song. I just love it.
#8: Reconsider Baby
Elvis and Boots Randolph performing “Reconsider Baby” at Pearle Harbor, Hawaii, March 25, 1961
I have always liked this song no matter which artist was singing it. But my special affection for it began in 2004 during the “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concert at Elvis Week. I was a gofer for all the singers and players that night, and I got to sit off to stage right with Boots Randolph before he went on for his segment of the show. He was so nice and friendly, and I couldn’t believe he talked so much to a nobody like me. Then he went on stage to perform three songs, including “Reconsider Baby.” Although he was 77 years old, Boots absolutely knocked out the audience with his soulful sax wailing, and he was rewarded with a huge standing ovation. It was electrifying. Boots died three years later, but Elvis’ version of the song carries on. Now, whenever I hear “Reconsider Baby” by Elvis, I flash back to that wonderful evening.
#7: I Want To Be Free
I have admitted that I’ve loved blues music over the last twenty years, so my Elvis top ten list is slanted toward his blues offerings. The next time you watch Jailhouse Rock , really listen to “I Want To Be Free.” Maybe it will grow on you like it has on me. Normally, I would never think of the Jordanaires as a group that would fit in a blues song, but they did a great job here. Of course, Elvis did too, showing off that wonderful vocal range he had.
#6: Steamroller Blues:
Like I said, I don’t care for much of the Elvis’ music from the 70s, but this song from 1972 is an exception. Elvis never recorded “Steamroller Blues” in the studio, but who can forget him singing it in Aloha From Hawaii? You’ve got to love a song with lyrics like, “Well, I’m a cement mixer, a churning urn of burning funk,” and “I’m gonna’ inject your soul with some sweet rock ‘n roll and shoot you full of rhythm and blues.” Elvis at his baaadest.
#5: I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
This is the other exception to my indifference for Elvis’s 70s music. Elvis recorded “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water” in 1970, and a short version of it was included on the album Elvis Country. But, the version I like is on the 1996 CD A Hundred Years From Now. It goes on for five minutes and sounds just like what it is – a free-wheeling jam session. You can’t possibly listen to this song without getting revved up.
#4: Lawdy Miss Clawdy
I have been a fan of this song ever since Lloyd Price released it in the mid-fifties. I liked Elvis’ version on his first album, Elvis Presley, and I liked his unplugged version during the ’68 Comeback Special even more. But what really turned me on was watching Elvis nail “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” on the theatrical showing of the restored Elvis On Tour. In fact, when the song began, there was a noticeable stirring among the theater audience, so I wasn’t the only one it got to. Kudos to Glen D. Hardin for an outstanding piano part on the song.
#3: Tryin’ To Get To You
Elvis recorded this song at Sun Records in 1955, but it was first released on the RCA album Elvis Presley in 1956. Later that year, it was released as a single, but it did not chart. However, it must have been a favorite of Elvis’ because he sang it during the filming of the ’68 Comeback Special. Unfortunately, it was left on the cutting-room floor. Only a few lucky folks like me who own the bootleg album The Burbank Sessions have heard this terrific raw version of “Tryin’ To Get To You.” I can’t believe they edited it out of the special.
#2: (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care
I have mentioned this song numerous times on ElvisBlog as a big favorite. Why it was never released as a single is a mystery to me. You will remember “Baby, I Don’t Care” as the song Elvis sang during the swimming pool scene in Jailhouse Rock. Some people consider the dance sequence with the movie’s title song as the forerunner to the modern music video, but I think it’s a tie. Same thing goes for “Baby, I Don’t Care.”
#1: Like A Baby
If you thought my other selections were a little strange, this one should blow your mind. Do you even know this song? You should if you listen to the 1960 album Elvis Is Back. This album is on just about everybody’s top 5 Elvis album list. It is rated his best album by many, including me. The reason it’s so good is because it contains a number of blues songs (including “Reconsider Baby” mentioned above). For many years “Like A Baby” was my favorite Elvis blues song, but after thinking about it for this article, I’ve decided it really is my favorite Elvis song, period.
Like they say, opinions are like a** holes; everybody’s got one. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my choices. If you strongly disagree, please comment below.
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