Cliff Richard discusses nearly meeting Elvis Presley in Germany
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Elvis Presley rarely wrote his own songs, even though his name appeared on many of the tunes he performed due to his manager insisting on receiving songwriting credits. However, one song was conceived by Elvis in the wake of the death of his mother, Gladys Presley.
That’s Someone You Never Forget was written in 1961 and appeared on his album Pot Luck in 1962.
While he didn’t write the lyrics, Elvis used his grief over his mother’s death, which forced him to take compassionate leave from the Army, as the inspiration for the track’s title.
His friend and bodyguard Red West wrote the lyrics for the song but admitted this tune came from somewhere deep in Elvis’ soul.
West explained: “That’s Someone You Never Forget was a title that came from Elvis. He said, ‘How about coming up with a song with the title of That’s Someone You Never Forget?’”
The songwriter says he did exactly that and sat down at the piano to first write the melody before penning the lyrics.
Peter Guralnick wrote in Careless Love, the second volume of his Elvis biography, that the lyrics “contained sentiments that under ordinary circumstances would have been assumed to be about an ex-lover, but in this case it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine that Elvis might be singing of his mother.”
Red agreed for Elvis’ name to be on the song as he had contributed to its conception, and Elvis was named a co-writer.
Writing in a review of the album, Bruce Eder & Neal Umphred described the song as “haunting, gospel-like”, adding: “That’s Someone You Never Forget” which was co-authored by Presley and is one of his best non-hit songs of this era.”
While the track never became one of his most well-known songs, Ernst Jorgensen wrote in Elvis Presley A Life In Music that “its sincerity gave it a timeless quality that some of Elvis’s recent work had lacked”.
Elvis had been completely heartbroken at his mother’s death, which was evident in his delivery of the song, West said.
Speaking to Ken Sharp, for his book Writing For The King, he explained: “Every time he’d start over and say ‘Hold it, hold it!’, I’d think he’s gonna lose interest.”
But instead, it took him seven takes to get it just right, showing just how much his mother meant to him.
The death of his mother really took its toll on the singer, who had been incredibly close to her for many years.
He said of their relationship as a child: “My mama never let me out of her sight. I couldn’t go down to the creek with the other kids.”
Elvis was even bullied by other children when he was young, who called him a ‘mama’s boy’ and made fun of him for their close bond.
Gladys had been diagnosed with hepatitis and her condition worsened very quickly, at which point Elvis was given emergency leave from the Army.
He arrived in Memphis to see her on August 12, 1958, but she died two days later on August 14, 1958, of heart failure, aged 46.
Elvis’ friend Judy Spreckels said after her death: “I have never seen anyone as sad as Elvis was.
“He cried continuously. We were in the front hall at Graceland, and he stood there hugging me for a half-hour.
“He was crying and crying and crying. It was the saddest thing I’d ever seen.”
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