First Hit #1: November 28, 1960
I mentioned elsewhere that Elvis’ originals had gone downhill, and I’m still right, because Are You Lonesome Tonight isn’t an original. In fact, the song was published in 1926. It’s a testament to his abilities that I had always assumed that he was the initial singer. I mean, he owns the song, it’s one of his trademarks and it’s arguably one of the best things he’s ever recorded – no small compliment, considering his library. As a result, I just assumed that he was where the song began.
Which is the mark of a skilled interpreter, if you can’t imagine anyone else singing the track it’s a clear indication that they know what they’re doing. It’s also interesting that the best part of the song isn’t sung at all, the spoken word section shows a pretty deep performance for a man who was never really known as an immensely talented actor. This letter to a departed lover is has that mix of longing and bitterness that accompanies the end to any relationship, and Elvis gives it a tenderness beyond compare. It’s a pretty good trick for a cover, and a great way to end a year.