Elvis International magazine has a section called “Elvis Is Everywhere,” and it is filled with little articles sent in by the readers. Collectively, these stories show how deeply Elvis is woven into the fabric of our culture. Even non-fans would have to admit you don’t need to look very hard to find references to Elvis all around us.
My most recent experience with this phenomenon came last weekend at a show put on by the Black Watch Pipe and Drum Corps. This is the marching band of one of the most storied military units in the history of Great Britain. Two-dozen men, dressed in kilts and all their other regalia, performed about twenty songs with only bagpipes and drums, and it was wonderful.
Believe it or not, as the Black Watch marched out of the arena at the end of the program’s first half, they played an Elvis song. No, it wasn’t “Jailhouse Rock,” “All Shook Up,” or anything like that; it was “Wooden Heart.” I knew I’d have to do some research on this when I got home, and here’s what I found.
The Black Watch’s history of playing the melody goes back many years before Elvis ever recorded the song. It is a traditional German folk song of unknown origin. In 1960, it was adapted for Elvis to sing in the movie GI Blues, which is set in Germany. From that point on, the facts about “Wooden Heart” could provide a lot of questions in an Elvis trivia contest.
For example: What Elvis song went to #1 in England in 1960, but didn’t get released in America until three years later? For some reason, RCA decided to release “Wooden Heart” as a single in England two months after the movie premiered, but not in the USA. Sounds like a dumb move to me.
Here’s another good trivia question: What Elvis song was covered by Joe Dowell in 1961 and reached #1 on the charts for him? While RCA sat on “Wooden Heart,” Shelby Singleton, the savvy owner of Smash Records, released a single of the song by unknown Joe Dowell, and it sold a million copies.
And another question: What 1964 Elvis single reached only #107 in America, but sold over a million copies in West Germany? I guess the combination of Elvis and a beloved national folk song was a winner over there.
“Wooden Heart” is an Elvis trivia-lovers goldmine, providing these additional questions:
What Elvis song featured a tuba and accordion?
What Elvis song contains eight lines of the lyrics in German?
What Elvis song had the re-release of Blue Christmas on the
And now, I have my own personal “Wooden Heart” trivia question:
What Elvis song does the famous Black Watch band perform on bagpipes all over the world?
Elvis really is everywhere.
© 2006 Philip R Arnold www.elvisblog.net