Is Your Heart Filled With Pain

‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ was written by Roy Turk and Lou Handman in 1926. Elvis Presley released his version of this song in November 1960 and it was an immediate success in the U.S., topping Billboard’s Pop Singles chart and reaching number three on the R&B chart.  A month after the song’s release, it topped the UK Singles Chart.  Presley’s version was certified by the Recording Industry Association of America for a Gold Record Award for 1,000,000 copies sold in the United States in 1983.  It was upgraded by the RIAA to a 2xPlatinum Record Award for 2,000,000 sales in 1992. Billboard ranked ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ number 81 on its Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs list in 2008.

The middle of this ballad contains a monologue where Elvis talks instead of singing.  This spoken part was not in the original published lyrics and it was written by Dave Dreyer, the composer of ‘Cecilia’, ‘I’m Following You’ and ‘Me and My Shadow’.  Dave Dreyer was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 22, 1894.  In his early career, he worked as a pianist, accompanying vaudeville greats Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, Belle Baker and Frank Fay.  In 1923, he was hired as a staff pianist at Irving Berlin Music Company where he stayed until the late 1940’s.  A line from Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It” Act II Scene VII made it into this song “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

The singer wants to rekindle a romance after these lovers drifted apart.  Musicians working on Elvis’ recording were guitarists Scotty Moore and Hank Garland, bassist Bob Moore, drummers D.J. Fontana and Buddy Harman, along with pianist Floyd Cramer.  The Jordanaires provided their usual vocal backing.  ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ held on to #1 for six weeks and spent 17 weeks in the “Hot 100”, 11 of them in the top 10.  At the 1960 Grammy Awards, ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ by Elvis was nominated for “Best Performance by a Pop Single Artist” and “Best Vocal Single Performance” by a male artist.  He lost in both categories to Ray Charles and his recording of ‘Georgia on My Mind’.

Elvis often joked around with this tender romantic song when he played it live, saying that he forgot the lyrics and laughing hysterically while improvising with new ones.  Maybe the pills were kicking in, or his light hearted mood, came from him being excited to play this song.  At one concert, Elvis replaced the line, “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there” with “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair”?  At that point, someone in the front row lost his toupee, and Elvis cracked up.  There is a famous Laughing Version of this song that comes from a 1969 Las Vegas performance unofficially recorded, and was released years after Elvis’ death, however I was not able to find this video.  The female backing singer who keeps singing as Elvis struggles to regain his composure is Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston’s mother.

Are you lonesome tonight
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day
When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

I wonder if you’re lonesome tonight
You know someone said that the world’s a stage
And each must play a part
Fate had me playing in love you as my sweet heart
Act one was when we met, I loved you at first glance
You read your line so cleverly and never missed a cue
Then came act two, you seemed to change and you acted strange
And why I’ll never know
Honey, you lied when you said you loved me
And I had no cause to doubt you
But I’d rather go on hearing your lies
Than go on living without you
Now the stage is bare and I’m standing there
With emptiness all around
And if you won’t come back to me
Then make them bring the curtain down

Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge Heartbreak Hotel.

18 thoughts on “Is Your Heart Filled With Pain

  1. Both of those songs played over & over again from her record player. My sister and I fended for ourselves as it was still summer break from school. I was 10 & my sister was 6. I love Elvis, am a huge fan. My mom was too! Thanks for bringing that memory back to me. My mom has been gone for 5 years now. Elvis played overhead for her viewing & funeral.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really that is cool. One time General Eisenhower was inspecting the troops in WWII and he stopped in front of my dad and asked him if he was getting enough to eat. My dad was always kind of skinny and he replied, “Yes sir.” His buddies asked him later why he didn’t complain about the food and he said that the only thing that you can say to a 5 star general is , “Yes sir.”


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