Whether you like it or not, Elvis changed country music forever when he became popular in the fifties with his rock'n'roll music. However, there is a saying - you can take the singer out of the country but you can't take the country out of the singer. So it was that Elvis recorded a lot of country songs throughout his career. Some were tucked away on B-sides or album tracks but others were A-side singles. Sometimes his recordings were faithful to the original and sometimes not. This compilation illustrates all aspects of the country songs recorded by Elvis.
I forgot to remember to forget was the first country chart-topper for Elvis. At that stage, nobody could have foreseen how his career would progress. Blue moon of Kentucky, as written by bluegrass inventor Bill Monroe, was a slow ballad. Elvis recorded it as an up-tempo rocker – this was definitely not a faithful cover. Eventually, Bill Monroe paid Elvis the highest compliment by recording an up-tempo version of his own. A fool such as I (originally a Hank Snow song) is another song that Elvis does in a more upbeat rocking style than the original, but the change is nothing like as dramatic as Blue moon of Kentucky. Old Shep, a very sad story about a dog that had to be put to sleep, is very faithful to the Red Foley original. I understand that Red based the song on the sad end to a dog he once owned.
All of the above songs and several others here were recorded in the fifties, but when most people think of Elvis singing country songs, they think of the latter part of his career. Indeed, the majority of the songs here were recorded following his comeback in the late sixties. Although this period of his career was inconsistent, he seemed to enjoy singing country, so the songs included here are among the best he recorded in his final years. It is interesting to note that Moody blue and Way down were both number one country hits, yet both have been omitted from this collection.
Always on my mind, though written with Elvis in mind, was first recorded by Brenda Lee – six months before Elvis cut it. There goes my everything was a Jack Greene country hit that gave both Engelbert Humperdinck and Elvis an international pop hit. Green green grass of home was a Porter Wagoner country hit that gave Tom Jones an international pop hit and which became a minor UK hit for Elvis.
There are several covers of Eddy Arnold songs, including It's a sin, Just call me lonesome, I'll hold you in my heart, I really don't want to know and Make the world go away.
Jim Reeves is also well represented via I love you because, How's the world treating you, There's always me, Welcome to my world and He'll have to go. I know Jim wasn't always the original singer, but I think of those songs as his.
Other covers include Your cheating heart (Hank Williams), I'm moving on (Hank Snow), From a jack to a king (Ned Miller), Release me (a country hit for several singers including Ray Price, which became an American pop hit for Esther Phillips and a major international pop hit for Engelbert Humperdinck), Help me make it through the night, For the good times (both songs written by Kris Kristofferson that became country and pop hits for various singers), You gave me a mountain (an extremely sad Marty Robbins song about the break-up of a marriage), I'm so lonesome I could cry (Hank Williams), There's a honky tonk angel (Conway Twitty), Susan when she tried (Statler brothers) and She thinks I still care (She thinks I still care).
This is a fascinating collection of country songs recorded by Elvis. Many great songs that could have been included have been left out but every track here is worthy of inclusion.