The Future Looks Bright Ahead

‘Don’t Be Cruel’ was recorded by Elvis Presley and written by Otis Blackwell in 1956, although Elvis shares a songwriting credit, due to his manager’s insistence. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.  In 2004, it was listed #197 in Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Elvis Presley sang lead vocals and did percussion, Scotty Moore played lead guitar, Bill Black played double bass, D. J. Fontana played drums, Shorty Long played piano and The Jordanaires (Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews, Hoyt Hawkins, Hugh Jarrett) sang backing vocals on this song.  It came out on Elvis’ Golden Records album in 1958 and it charted #24 in the UK and went to #1 in the US.  The single was released in July 1956 and the other side of this single was ‘Hound Dog’ which went to number one first, but ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ eventually overtook ‘Hound Dog’ and this record is the only single in history to have both sides reach #1 in the US.  It stayed at #1 twice as long as the A-side, ‘Hound Dog’.  The two titles spent a combined 55 weeks in the Top 100 in 1956-1957.

Otis Blackwell was an African-American singer/songwriter from Brooklyn wrote several other hits for Elvis including, ‘Return to Sender’, ‘All Shook Up’, and ‘One Broken Heart for Sale’ and he also wrote ‘Fever’, which was made famous by Peggy Lee, and ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ for Jerry Lee Lewis.  Blackwell wrote over 1000 songs and died in May 2002 in 2002 at age 70 and he never met Elvis Presley.

In 1956 Elvis Presley came to New York City’s RCA studios to record his next hit single, which had already been decided by his handlers to be a song called ‘Hound Dog’.  The tune was written by the songwriting team of Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber, and it had already become a hit-made famous for its hard edge by blues diva Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton.  Presley now had to decide what song to record on the B-side.  Elvis listened to ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ twice, and then he said, “That’s the one I want to try.”  ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ became one of Elvis’ most beloved songs and one of his personal favorites.

You know I can be found,
sitting home all alone,
If you can’t come around,
at least please telephone.
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.

Baby, if I made you mad
for something I might have said,
Please, let’s forget the past,
the future looks bright ahead,
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.
I don’t want no other love,
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of.

Don’t stop thinking of me,
don’t make me feel this way,
Come on over here and love me,
you know what I want you to say.
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.
Why should we be apart?
I really love you baby, cross my heart.

Let’s walk up to the preacher
and let us say I do,
Then you’ll know you’ll have me,
and I’ll know that I’ll have you,
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.
I don’t want no other love,
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of.

Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.
Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.
I don’t want no other love,
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.

2 thoughts on “The Future Looks Bright Ahead

  1. Elvis did have the best songwriters of the time at his disposal. The Colonel would rake them over the coals but they did have Elvis record their song which was huge.
    Otis was a great songwriter…can’t believe he never met him. Great post Jim

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Max. Originally Otis Blackwell was not keen on giving up half of the song writing credits, but eventually he agreed because half the profits from a hit were much better than all the profits from nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.