Elvis Presley stars in the 1958 trailer for King Creole
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Elvis Presley may not have written many songs himself, but he certainly made them his own. One of those is Suspicious Minds, which went to Number One in the UK and the USA and marked a major comeback for The King. But who is the song about, and are the lyrics related to Elvis’ own life?
Elvis Presley did not write Suspicious Minds, as was the case with most of his songs.
However, it could be songwriters working with him used some of his own experiences to inform their lyrics.
In the case of Suspicious Minds, this was written and performed first by singer/songwriter Mark James.
The song was first recorded and released by the singer in 1968, after Mark left Houston, where he was living, to move to Memphis and write music.
The lyrics tell the story of a couple who are in love but their behaviour, namely their distrust of one another, is causing their relationship to break apart.
Reports have suggested these lyrics, while not telling the story of anyone in Elvis’ life, did come from something true, relating to the songwriter.
Mark was married to his first wife, and reportedly had feelings for his childhood sweetheart, who was also married.
He believed his wife had suspicions about his feelings for another woman, and so the famous song was born, as they were ‘caught in a trap.’
In the same year Mark released it, label producer Don Crews asked Mark if he had any songs that would be right for Elvis, who was soon to be recording his From Elvis in Memphis album.
For Mark, Elvis needed to move to a more mature way of singing and performing, and he and Don decided on Suspicious Minds as the perfect way to announce his return.
Suspicious Minds was recorded on January 23, 1969, in the early hours of the morning as part of his recording sessions for the album, which came after his 1968 Comeback Special on TV.
The song was his final chart-topper before his death, meaning it holds an important place in the hearts of many fans.
Suspicious Minds did not get released without some issues, however, as producer Chips Moman and Elvis entered a dispute about publishing rights, though these were ultimately resolved.
Despite not being a songwriter, Elvis insisted on being named as a co-songwriter for every tune, gaining half the publishing rights, hence why he and Dolly Parton were never able to collaborate.
On Late Night with Seth Meyers, Dolly spoke out about what happened with Elvis and how she felt about the horrific moment.
She admitted it was the ‘hardest thing to do,’ saying: “I had to. It was [the hardest thing to do] and I still grieve that but it wasn’t Elvis, he loved it.
“Colonel Tom said I had to give away half the publishing because Elvis didn’t record anything unless he had half the publishing.
“But I had already recorded it. So I said I couldn’t do it because I was leaving that for my family and so I just didn’t do it. And he didn’t do it.
“But after Whitney recorded it I realised that was the best choice that I’d ever make.
“But I did write a song later called I dreamed about Elvis and I had an Elvis sound-a-like sing with me on it, and we did sing I Will Always Love You as part of that song. So maybe one day I’ll put that out.”
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