Elvis Presley in Stay Away Joe

The Best Elvis Presley Country Songs

August 12, 2021 9:00 am GMT
Last Edited June 15, 2023 2:17 pm GMT

email logo
link icon

Link copied

Content Sponsor

His millions of loyal subjects give praise to The King for many different reasons.

Some consider him as rock 'n' roll ground zero, others as a swoon-worthy movie star.

Holler's list of his greatest moments in country acknowledges those early landmarks, when so-called experts were befuddled by his intuitive intermingling of hillbilly, blues, folk and rhythm and blues elements into a new cultural phenomenon.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1975

There's A Honky Tonk Angel (Who Will Take Me Back In)

Conway Twitty's country No. 1 of 1974 was famously covered in the UK by Cliff Richard, who then realised its subject matter concerned a lady of the night and dropped it like a live grenade. Elvis also swiftly seized on the Troy Seals/Denny Rice composition for his often country-leaning Promised Land album.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1975

Green, Green Grass Of Home

Just four months after Promised Land came Presley's second album of 1975, the somewhat wearily titled Today, produced as usual by his regular studio confidant Felton Jarvis. Its sessions would mark the last time that Elvis recorded in a studio, at RCA Studio C in Hollywood, after which his endless touring was punctuated by sessions at Graceland. Among rock 'n' roll workouts and ballads, this was his assured take on the song most associated with his good friend Tom Jones.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1971

Make The World Go Away

Presley's lifetime talents as a song interpreter were well placed in country, as he confidently cherry-picked favourites from the genre's already rich history. This tear-stained Hank Cochran composition was a major hit twice in the 1960s, for Ray Price and then for Eddy Arnold. Included on the Elvis Country set, appropriately cut in Nashville, it featured his old vocal running mates the Jordanaires.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1975

Help Me

This number from Promised Land was written by Texan notable Larry Gatlin, who was also building his own substantial career (and would soon own his first top tenner with 'Broken Lady'). The gentle arrangement of the gospel-fuelled 'Help Me' featured pretty piano by Swedish musician 'Pete' Hallin, and the single gave Elvis yet his next top 10 country hit.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1959

I Forgot To Remember To Forget

Back we go to the infectious innocence of the Sun years, and the 20-year-old Presley's final single for Sam Phillips' label. It became Presley's first No. 1 when it topped the country chart in February 1956, by which time 'Heartbreak Hotel' was in the process of ripping the rule book to shreds. Scotty Moore's fabulous southern guitar sound and Bill Black's galloping beat make this another essential early Elvis outing.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1971

There Goes My Everything

Jack Greene's No. 1 of 1966 was first known in the UK by another of Elvis' friends who could bring country into pop, Engelbert Humperdinck. Many others got to it before Presley, from Ray Price and George Jones to Kitty Wells and Connie Smith, but The King's interpretation itself did much to introduce international audiences to the Nashville sound.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1976

She Thinks I Still Care

The Moody Blue album, released in July 1977, just a month before Elvis' death, cobbled together studio leftovers and live recordings. The title hit was captured at the same Graceland sessions as this favourite, which had already been around the Nashville houses, most notably in the chart-topping 1962 version by George Jones.

RCA Records | 1973

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

Elvis introduced this Hank Williams staple on stage at the Aloha From Hawaii special as “probably the saddest song I ever heard”. Hank recorded the original when Elvis was just 14 and developing his love of the country trailblazer. He went on to own and cherish records by other Music City heroes such as Ray Price, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and Ronnie Milsap.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1971

Funny How Time Slips Away

One of Willie Nelson's finest moments as a songwriter was first made a hit by Billy Walker, on the country charts, and Jimmy Elledge on the pop side. As so often, it had been remade by dozens of artists, from Brenda Lee to the Supremes, by the time it won a huge new endorsement on Elvis Country. He gives it a suitably forlorn and sensitive treatment.

RCA Records | 1981

Guitar Man

Felton Jarvis' posthumous 1981 remix, which added new instrumentation to Elvis' 1967 hit version, is perhaps a little more country, but is hard to find in official online outlets. Ace guitarist Jerry Reed was drafted in to update his own deft guitar motif with an electric feature, and the new version became The King's last country No. 1. The original gives the lie to the idea that nothing good came from his later film soundtracks, residing on 1967's Clambake.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1959

I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone

The Snearly Ranch Boys are little celebrated for their place in the early pages of the rock 'n' roll story, but they included Bill Taylor and Stan Kesler, who wrote this key song from Elvis' Sun years. It was the 1955 flip side of 'Baby Let's Play House,' on a single that was an early showcase for his dexterity in both rocking and country styles. An original of Sun 217 (for that was the catalogue number) also happens to be worth thousands of pounds.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1975

You Asked Me To

Elvis turned 40 on the day the Promised Land album was released. It began with a killer version of Chuck Berry's title song, and ended somewhere close to outlaw country, with a simple, undeniable version of this Waylon Jennings/Billy Joe Shaver tune, a top 10 hit for Waylon a couple of years earlier as 'You Ask Me To'. Presley even sang it in the style of Jennings, who recalled in his autobiography that when they'd first met, Elvis called him “Hillbilly”.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1971

Little Cabin On The Hill

A real piece of buried treasure from deep in the Elvis canon, this song by Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt lent itself to just about the most bluegrass workout Presley ever recorded. It percolates along spontaneously for less than two minutes on Elvis Country, with great fiddle by Buddy Spicher and harmonica by later Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie McCoy. As powerful in its own way as those impromptu rockers on the 1968 comeback special.

Sony Music Entertainment | 1959

Blue Moon Of Kentucky

Is it country? Rock 'n' roll? Hillbilly? Of course 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky' is all of the above and more. Funny to think that one of the songs that helped give birth to a rocking revolution in 1954 started life nearly 10 years earlier as a waltz by Bill Monroe. Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black gave it electricity in every sense, upgraded it to 4/4 time, and the world was never quite the same.

Subscribe and listen to Holler's Elvis Presley Best Songs Playlist:

Apple Music
Amazon Music
YouTube Music
Play Icon

For more on Elvis Presley, see below:

Written by Paul Sexton
Content Sponsor
Holler Country Music

ESSENTIALSCountry Covers That Are Better Than The Originals

Artist - The Trio - Dolly Parton, Emmylous Harris, Linda Ronstadt

ESSENTIALSThe 50 Most Influential Women in Country Music

Artist - Kenny Chesney - Blue Chair Bay Rum

ESSENTIALSCountry Artists with their Own Alcohol Brands

Holler Country Music

ESSENTIALSThe Best Kacey Musgraves Songs