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Elvis SongPedia: Blue Suede Shoes

Blue Suede Shoes

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Basic Stats

(Just the facts, ma'am!)

Written by: Carl Perkins

Recorded: January 30, 1956, RCA Studios, New York
Released master is take 10.

Single: w/ "Tutti Frutti", RCA 47-6636, August 31, 1956
Also re-released as Gold Standard Series, 447-0609, September 30, 1958

RIAA Certified: Gold (as of 07/15/1999)

Highest U.S. Charts Positions:
#24 on Top 100 Pop Singles chart
#20 on Top Sellers in Stores chart
#24 on Most Played By Jockeys chart
These chart positions reflect release on EP Elvis Presley, EPA-747, March 1956, rather than the single released in August.

1st LP release: Elvis Presley - March 23, 1956
(Another version released on G.I. Blues - October 1960)
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"Blue Suede Shoes"
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For other versions, see
Lyrics and Downloads section below.

My Spin

(Just my opinion. Give us yours!)
When someone is asked to name Elvis songs, "Blue Suede Shoes" is likely to be one of the first songs they come up with. Although it's certainly one of the songs most identified with Elvis, it was never technically a "gold record", since the single didn't sell over a million (during Elvis' lifetime. It has now). Because of this, it was not included on Elvis Golden Records in 1958, nor did it show up on either of the "greatest hits" 4-LP boxed sets that came out in 1970 and 1971 (Elvis: Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits). So, if you were just becoming a fan in the '70s (like I was), it was hard to believe that you couldn't get "Blue Suede Shoes" on any of Elvis' "greatest hits" albums! You could only get this original recording by finding the Gold Standard "oldies" re-release version of the single, or by buying Elvis' first album, Elvis Presley.

In spite of this early lack-of-certified-gold status, "Blue Suede Shoes" is forever tied to Elvis, and that goes for the origin story too! Although Carl Perkins wrote it, recorded it and had the original hit with the song, the inspiration to write it seems to have come from a night in 1955 when Elvis, Carl and Johnny Cash were performing in Amory Mississippi. That night Johnny told Carl of an Air Force sergeant he knew, named C.V. White, who would often ask Johnny how he looked, and say, "Just don't step on my blue suede shoes!", although he was wearing his Air Force uniform and regulation shoes. After telling Carl the story, he suggested Carl write a song about it, but Perkins wasn't sure how to write a song about shoes.

In December of 1955, Carl and his brothers were playing for a dance when he noticed a boy dancing with a beautiful young girl. He overheard the boy say to the girl, "Uh-uh! Don't step on my blue suedes!" Amused that a boy would rank his shoes higher than a gorgeous girl, he finished writing "Blue Suede Shoes" that night. He wanted to use a nursery rhyme to start it out, and toyed with the idea of something based on "Little Jack Horner" or "a spider going up the wall", but settled on this intro:
Well, it's one for the money, two for the show, Three to get ready, now go, man, go!
When recording it at Sun Studio, Sam Phillips had one suggestion: change that last line to "Go, cat, go!" Released on January 1, 1956, Carl's version of "Blue Suede Shoes" quickly became a hit regionally and was soon giving Elvis' "Heartbreak Hotel" a run for its money nationally, especially after Carl appeared on The Perry Como Show.

Elvis recorded his version of "Blue Suede Shoes" on January 30, 1956, in his second session for RCA Victor. Elvis performed it on television in February and early March, and with each TV appearance, the song was beginning to be identified with Elvis as much as with Carl. On March 21, Carl was in a car accident, and was unable to perform for months. A week earlier, March 13, Elvis' version of "Blue Suede Shoes" kicked off Side 1 of his debut album, Elvis Presley. RCA had originally earmarked it as a possible single release, but Steve Sholes at RCA promised Sam Phillips that he would postpone it long enough for Carl's version to continue its success. As it turned out, Carl's version made it to number one on the singles charts and went gold, while Elvis' first album went to the top of the album charts and went gold! It was a win-win!

Although Carl's version is definitive rockabilly at its finest, Elvis takes it and makes it his own, vocally adding a lot more energy. Elvis does the intro differently, too. While Carl hits a dead stop after each of the first two lines, Elvis continues in rhythm through both lines, losing none of the momentum before launching into the main chorus. Together with Scotty Moore's guitar solos, it's turned into a rock-n-roll classic. Any Elvis "greatest hits" package available today almost certainly includes "Blue Suede Shoes".

Elvis recorded a new version in 1960 for the soundtrack of G.I. Blues, to fit into a scene in the film. Elvis' character and his band are playing in a German pub when another G.I. says he'd rather hear "an original", goes to the jukebox and selects "Blue Suede Shoes" by Elvis Presley. This, of course, leads to a fight scene. Although this is only four years later than his previous recording, it sounds like a diluted version of the original.

For his 1968 Comeback Special, he recorded a couple of versions of the song, all of them powerful. His voice was in great shape, and he was obviously enjoying his performances, really biting into the song. Unfortunately, this would be about the last time he would devote much energy to it. In his return to Las Vegas in 1969, he did open with the song, and it still had some punch. He would continue to perform "Blue Suede Shoes" in his concert appearances, throughout the rest of his career, but it would mostly be an obligatory run-through of the song, without much care. He knew he had to do it, though. What's an Elvis performance without "Blue Suede Shoes"?!

Other Spins

(What did the critics and fans say?)

'Blue Suede Shoes', with its driving rhythm, is a classic rock'n'roll record. The barely-controlled power of Presley's performance is made all the more enthralling by deliberate mispronunciation of some consonants. This gives the song a quality of bravado - a couldn't-care-less attitude - but it is clear that every quaver is sincerely meant by Presley. Scotty Moore's guitar is remarkable: he 'bends' chords flat to tilt the song in the rhythm-and-blues direction, and his guitar licks in verse 2 build the energy, until by the third verse it really burns.

Robert Matthew-Walker, Elvis Presley: A Study in Music, 1979

Check out other Elvis fans' opinions on the Elvis News page for Blue Suede Shoes.

Check out other opinions at Rate Your Music

Although it's one of those tunes that seems like it's been around forever, there was a time in pop music history when a "Blue Suede Shoes" didn't exist. As a rock & roll call to arms, a defiant cry of '50s teenage youthfulness, it's the ultimate sign pointer....

Read more at AllMusic's review of Blue Suede Shoes

"Blue Suede Shoes" Links

"Blue Suede Shoes" Lyrics and Downloads

Well, it's one for the money,
Two for the show,
Three to get ready,
Now go, cat, go.

But don't you step on my blue suede shoes.
You can do anything but lay off of my Blue suede shoes.

Well, you can knock me down, step in my face,
Slander my name all over the place.
Do anything that you want to do,
but uh-uh, honey, lay off of my shoes

Don't you step on my Blue suede shoes.
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes.

You can burn my house, steal my car,
Drink my liquor from an old fruitjar.
Do anything that you want to do,
but uh-uh, honey, lay off of my shoes

Don't you step on my blue suede shoes.
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes.

Download the Karaoke Version!

Blue Suede Shoes karaoke - Elvis PresleyBlue Suede Shoes
Elvis Presley

Download or just listen to different versions by Elvis from Amazon!

... or different versions by other artists!

What's YOUR Spin?!
Which Version Of "Blue Suede Shoes" Is Better to YOU?

Elvis, the Rock & Roll Classic!

Carl, the Rockabilly Original!

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Elvis song reference books on Amazon!

Ernst Jorgensen's complete chronicle of Elvis' recording sessions, with loads of detailed information about each session and each song.
This is the definitive encyclopedia on Elvis' life details, as well as all the background and trivia you need for all the songs, movies, and TV appearances. Authors are Fred L. Worth and Steve D. Tamerius.
The subtitle of Ace Collins' book says it all: "The stories behind Elvis' #1 hits"!
"Elvis The #1 Hits: The Secret History of the Classics". Another self-explanatory book title. :)