#1142: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? by Elvis Presley

Peak Month: July 1957
2 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX’s chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?
“Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” lyrics

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon Presley, was stillborn. When he was eleven years old his parents bought him a guitar at the Tupelo Hardware Store. As a result Elvis grew up as an only child. He and his parents, Vernon and Gladys, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948. The young Presley graduated from high school in 1953. That year he stopped by the Memphis Recording Service to record two songs, including “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”, song #1117 on this Countdown. Elvis’ musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, Elvis began his singing career recording “That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” at Sun Records in Memphis.

In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor. In 1956 he had his first #1 record titled “Heartbreak Hotel.” He had a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time. Bill Haley & His Comets ushered in the rock ‘n roll into mainstream culture in 1955 when “Rock Around The Clock,” appeared in the film about juvenile delinquents and anti-social behavior in an inter-racial school. The song became an anthem for teenage rebellion. However, it was Elvis in 1956 who ensured rock ‘n roll was here to stay with his swiveling hips and R&B infused songs with sexually suggestive lyrics. He had his first number one hit with “Heartbreak Hotel” in February 1956. He starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other recording artist.

Between 1956 and 1959, Elvis Presley continued his chart-topping ways with “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”, “Hound Dog”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Love Me Tender”, “Too Much”, “All Shook Up”,  and “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” peaking at #1. He also starred in several films. His second film, Loving You, was released in 1957. Though it was not featured the film, the song “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” made it onto the Loving You Soundtrack album.

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? by Elvis Presley

“Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” was written by Scotty Wiseman for the 1944 musical film, Sing, Neighbor, Sing, and performed by Wiseman and his spouse Lulu Belle, billed as Lulu Belle and Scotty. The song was one of the first country music songs to attract major attention in the pop music field. Although it was featured in the movie, it wasn’t released by them until 1947. The first version of the song to be released was by Gene Autry in 1945. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters had a Top 30 hit with the song in January 1950. And in 1957 Ricky Nelson’s version, although the B-side of “Be Bop Baby”, still climbed to #29 on the Billboard pop singles chart.

Scott Greene Wiseman was born in North Carolina in 1909. In his childhood he learned to play guitar, banjo and harmonica. He also developed a love for Appalachian folk songs. His professional singing debut was on WRVA in Richmond, Virginia, in 1927. After moving to Chicago, he joined the National Barn Dance in 1933, which aired on WLS. He met comedian Lulu Belle (Myrtle Eleanor Cooper) in the spring of 1934. They fell in love and married that December. They were billed as “The Sweethearts of Country Music,” and had a huge following for the next 25 years. They popularized a song called “Mountain Dew”. In 1945 Scotty Wiseman went into hospital for a minor surgery. On one hospital visit Lulu Belle said to him softly, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” The question inspired Scotty Wiseman to make a song out of her question.

Over the years “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” has been recorded by over sixty recording artists. These include the Beau Marks, Anita Bryant, Michael Bublé, Eddie Cochran, Floyd Cramer, Skeeter Davis, Billy Fury, Stonewall Jackson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Al Martino, Willie Nelson, Patti Page, Jim Reeves, Cliff Richard, Marty Robbins, Kenny Rogers, Ringo Starr, Bobby Vinton, Roger Whittaker, Hank Williams and Faron Young.

“Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” is sung by a suitor who seeks to cement a commitment from the one they love. They are letting their sweetheart know that they adore them with all their heart and soul. And when they sleep alone, they miss the other person dreadfully and dream of them constantly. The thought of losing them would break their heart in two.

Elvis Presley’s version was the first of any rock ‘n roll artist, and placed it in the rock ‘n roll canon. “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” by Elvis climbed to #2 in Vancouver (BC), #7 in Worcester (MA) and #13 in Toronto.

Elvis kept on topping the charts in the fall and winter of 1957 and into 1958 with “Jailhouse Rock”, “Don’t” and “Hard Headed Woman”. But during his chart-topping ways, he got a letter from Uncle Sam. Sergeant Elvis Presley served with the U.S. Army from March 24, 1958, to March 2, 1960. Meanwhile, Presley managed to climb to the top of the charts once in 1959 with “Big Hunk o’ Love”.

His return to civilian life saw a return to a string of successful single, album and film releases. From April 1960 to March 1961, Elvis topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Stuck On You, “It’s Now Or Never,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and “Surrender” for a total of 17 of 52 weeks in that timeframe. The album from his first film on return from serving in Germany, G.I. Blues, was a best-seller at the box office (#2 on Variety Magazine for the year 1960) and a number one album in October 1960. He released His Hand In Mine, a collection of sacred gospel music and in November, 1960, began to record his 6th studio album, Something For Everybody.

Presley continued to have major hits in 1961-62. In Vancouver he topped the charts with “Marie’s The Name (His Latest Flame)”, “Little Sister”, “Good Luck Charm” and “Return To Sender”. Other Top Ten hits included “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and “She’s Not You”. In 1962 Presley released his seventh studio album, Potluck. From that album the song “Kiss Me Quick” would peak at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. But his song, “Suspicion”, climbed onto the CFUN chart in the summer of 1962.

Elvis continued to enjoy more Top Ten hits between 1963 and 1965. His most notable hits were “One Broken Heart For Sale”, “(You’re The) Devil In Disguise”, “Ain’t That Loving You Baby”, “Such A Night” and “Crying In The Chapel”. Less successful in the USA was “Witchcraft” which stalled at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100. But in Vancouver, the song peaked at #4.

After 1965, Elvis found it increasingly challenging to enter the Top 30. Between the end of 1965 and the winter of 1968 Presley released 22 singles and only four of these made the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 30. But in 1969, Presley had his best year since 1962 charting three singles into the Top Ten with “In The Ghetto”, “Suspicious Minds” and “Don’t Cry Daddy”. Between 1970 and 1983 Elvis released 36 singles, including eight posthumous singles. Of these, “Burning Love” and “The Wonder Of You” were his most successful and six others made the Top 20 on the Billboard charts.

Over his recording career Elvis Presley earned 14 Grammy Award nominations including for Record of the Year with “A Fool Such As I” (1959) and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (1960) and won six Hall of Fame Awards. After his comeback tour in 1968 Presley had continued to tour extensively, with 168 concerts in 1973, a pace he kept through the mid-70’s. By 1976 he was suffering from multiple ailments: glaucoma, high blood pressure, liver damage, and an enlarged colon, all believed to be related to prescription drug abuse. He died on August 16, 1977, and a funeral was attended by over 80,000 mourners. His legacy continues to live on. There were also numerous sightings of Elvis including around the 40th anniversary of his death in 2017.

December 8, 2019
Ray McGinnis

References:
graceland.com (Elvis bio)
Elvis Presley: Rock’s First Icon,” Rolling Stone, September 22, 1977.
Paul Lichter, The Boy Who Dared to Rock: The Definitive Elvis, Garden City, NY: Dolphin Books, 1978.
Elizabeth Nix, “7 Fascinating Facts About Elvis Presley,” History.com, July 1, 2014
Wendy Sauer, Elvis Presley: A Complete Reference, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1984.
Lulu Belle and Scotty, “Mountain Dew“, 1939.
Scotty Wiseman: Induction 1971,” Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.


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