80. ‘One Night’ / ‘I Got Stung’, by Elvis Presley

Elvis would like a night with you. One night, with you, Is what I’m now prayin’ for, The things that we two can plan, Would make my dreams come true… How could you resist?

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One Night / I Got Stung, by Elvis Presley (his 3rd of twenty-one #1s)

3 weeks, from 30th January – 20th February 1959

I bemoaned the fact that our last #1 promised raunch but failed to deliver. Here, though… Well, Elvis doesn’t let us down. We’re calling out names, demanding helping hands, and worrying about a love that’s ‘too strong to hide’ (Oo-er. Does he mean he can’t hide his feelings; or a more physical manifestation of his amour…?) Lyrically, this is a cousin of Johnnie Ray’s barnstorming ‘Such a Night’, with the listener left in no doubt about what the singer intends to do all night. Except Johnnie had had his night and was wallowing in the memory; Elvis is still waiting and praying.

The highlight of this song is the bridge, where Elvis really lets loose: Always lived, A very quiet life, I ain’t never, Did no wrong… Now I know, That a life without you, Has been too lonely too long… It’s such an accepted fact – that Elvis Presley had a great voice – that you take it for granted. And if you picture him in his later years, when his throat was all clogged up with junk food and prescription drugs, you might wonder if he really did have that wonderful a voice. But listening to those lines, the way he snarls and howls, you realise that he was indeed a very fine singer. Listening to him like this, amongst his 1950s contemporaries, he really does stand out. He sounds like a modern rock star, while his peers often still sound clipped and plummy. His only true rival in the voice stakes, from the eighty numbers ones we’re covered so far, is the aforementioned Mr. Johnnie Ray.

Beyond the voice, however, this is a pretty simple record. A guitar, a bass and some drums. I haven’t really listened to it in years, and had misremembered it as being rockier, somewhat heavier. It’s something I’ve mentioned already, how these ancient records sound much more lightweight than you expect – probably thanks to bass heavy, headphone filling modern pop.

And ‘One Night’ brings to an end our mini-run of ‘one’-hit wonders topping the charts. Because, frankly, Elvis Presley is the polar opposite of a one-hit wonder. He’s the most-hits wonder, this being his 3rd of twenty-odd number ones. Actually, ‘One Night’ was also his 20th number one single, what with it hitting the top on re-release in 2005. It’s nice to think – lazy sod that I am – that I can just copy/paste this whole post when we arrive at January 2005. Which should be sometime in 2027, if I keep up my current pace… I’ll be in my forties… That’s not a daunting thought at all…

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To the other song, then, on this double ‘A’ disc: ‘I Got Stung’. I complained when covering Connie Francis’s recent double ‘A’-side that the insipid flip side (‘Carolina Moon’) failed to in any way live up to the corking ‘Stupid Cupid’. No such worries here, though. Elvis ain’t takin’ it easy…It begins with an exclamation: Holy smokes and snakes alive I never thought this could happen to me! Hello! Yes! We’re awake!

I know my Elvis, but I wasn’t so familiar with this little rocker. It’s simple enough: girl as honey bee; guy gets stung. There’s a rollicking piano, a chugging rhythm (the bass here being really deep and pretty scuzzy), lots of uh-huh-huhs and oh yeahs. This is what you might imagine an Elvis record sounding like if you had never really listened to him before.

Well now don’t think I’m complainin’, I’m mighty pleased we met, But you gimme, One little peck on the back o’ my neck, And I break out in a cold, cold sweat… There’s a great balance in these words – they’re down-home American enough without ever sounding corny. I’d transcribe more of them if I could, but El is mumbling away here. They’re possibly the most difficult-to-make-out lyrics we’ve met so far on this countdown. And it’s also the shortest record we’ve encountered: he races through several verses, bridges and choruses in a little under one minute fifty.

And so – Holy smokes and snakes alive! – our third meeting with The King careers to an abrupt end. Uh-huh-huh! Yeah! Done. Our night with Elvis is over. He might call you again; but he probably won’t…