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“ON JANUARY 10, 1956…”

By Rosa García Mora

On January 10, 1956, Elvis performed his first recording session for his new record label, RCA, in the Nashville studio. Among the songs that were recorded that day, was ‘Heartbreak Hotel

The song was composed by Mae Boren Axton and Tommy Durden.

Elvis and Mae were, and always were, very good friends. She tells us the story of what the creation was like, in his mind and in her soul, of one of the essential songs in Elvis’ artistic career. It all started when Tommy Durden, on one occasion, showed Mae a newspaper clipping, in which there was an article that talked about the suicide of a middle-aged man, who after stripping away all personal documents that could identify him. , had written a note before ending his life: “I walk down a lonely street.” The story impacted Mae so much that she got the idea to write about a hotel, at the end of the lonely street, where broken-hearted lovers feel so alone that they could die… She, who always maintained her great friendship with Elvis, told him He had promised that one day he would get her the million-selling song, and Mae knew from the first moment that with “Heartbreak Hotel” he was finally going to get it, and he was right.

It was she herself, along with Durden, who made the agreement for Elvis to receive a third of the songwriter’s profits, contrary to the belief that it was The Colonel who demanded it from him. This meant that all profits, going forward, would be split between Mae, Durden and Elvis. 

The single “Heartbreak Hotel” would be published on January 27, 1956, with “I Was The One” on the B side and sold a million copies in two months, just as Mae had promised Elvis, who thus obtained his album. gold and his number 1 in the hits.

Elvis, in turn, promised him that his song would be the first to be released on the market from RCA, and it was.

The song begins with only Elvis’ voice… then a few notes from Floyd Cramer‘s piano, to give way to Billy’s double bass. A seemingly simple musical accompaniment, but shockingly great. A blues with a magical, surprising and unique interpretation, I would say unclassifiable, that makes you feel heartbroken, feel alone

in the darkness of the street and in the desperation of the hotel, seeing the receptionist dressed in black, imagining the end of that lonely street, which only leads to the most absolute darkness and desolation… A song that continues to leave a deep mark and a deep chills in us every time we hear it.

Article written and provided by Rosa García Mora https://www.facebook.com/rosa.garciamora.12

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