The greatest mainstream pop song of all time, if hierarchically listing things whose worth can only be judged on the subjective appreciation of the individual wasn’t a meaningless population-distracting waste of time? Quite possibly. If not, indisputably one of.
It was Elvis Presley’s first number one hit in America and the best-selling single of 1956. Certainly, it was the song that catapulted him into the national consciousness.
Its writer, Tommy Durden, had read a story in the Miami Herald about a man’s suicide. Like so many, the unfortunate individual in question left a note, but this one was poignantly poetic – choice quote, ‘I walk a lonely street’. It was the flash of inspiration that launched the world’s first, arguably biggest pop star. Yes, that macabre kernel might have been transposed to a pop-standard I’m-so-blue-my-baby-left-me setting, but the track still retains something of that deeper unease.
In any case, it’s Elvis’s extraordinary performance that makes it, and that was so revolutionary in middle fifties America. By the end of the decade he’d have an FBI case-file and Bureau director Edgar J. Hoover would be advised that his sexualised on-stage persona posed a ‘definite danger to the security of the United States’.