#53: Paralyzed/When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again by Elvis Presley
B-side: “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again”
Peak Month: November 1956
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #27
YouTube.com: “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again”
Lyrics: “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again”
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”. 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 Blackboard Jungle – a 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, Elvis Presley has sold over one billion records, more than any other recording artist.
In 1956 Elvis Presley continued his chart-topping ways in Vancouver (BC) with “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”, “Hound Dog”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Love Me Tender”, “Poor Boy”, “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again” and “Paralyzed”. The latter two songs were on the same side of an EPA (Extended Play Album).
Otis Blackwell wrote “Paralyzed”. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1931. In 1952, Blackwell won a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. This led to a recording contract with RCA, and subsequently with Jay-Dee Records. In May 1956, Blackwell wrote “Fever”, which became an R&B hit for Little Willie John. It turned into a Top 30 crossover pop hit in ’56, and was covered successfully by Peggy Lee in 1958. In July 1956, Otis Blackwell wrote “Don’t Be Cruel” for Elvis Presley which became a smash number-one hit. In 1957, Blackwell penned “Great Balls Of Fire” for Jerry Lee Lewis, and subsequently Lewis’ hit last Top Ten hit “Breathless”. He also co-wrote “All Shook Up” for Presley. In 1959, Blackwell wrote “Hey Little Girl” and “Just Keep It Up” for Dee Clark, a Top 20 hit. Then in 1960, Blackwell wrote “Handy Man” for Jimmy Jones which became a number-one hit. In 1962, Otis Blackwell wrote “Return To Sender” which became a number-one hit for Elvis Presley. He wrote another hit for Presley in 1963 titled “One Broken Heart For Sale”.
In the song, though the guy feels “hypnotized” and lured to “squeeze” his date with all his might, he just stands there paralyzed. The change she’s made is described in the lyrics: “You made my life for me just one big happy game. I’m gay every morning, at night I’m still the same.” When they stand before the preacher to say “I Do,” she says the words of commitment. But, all he can do is stand at the altar paralyzed.
“Paralyzed” peaked at #1 in Vancouver (BC), #4 in Cleveland, and #9 in Worcester (MA).
The flip side of “Paralyzed”, which was also a hit on the Vancouver pop chart, was titled “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again”.
According to Gene Sullivan, the song, “When my Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again,” was written out of necessity. Sullivan commented, “The 1940 recording session that Wiley Walker and I did for Columbia records was a mistake. We didn’t know anything about original songs. We just recorded songs that we liked to sing. The Columbia A & R man, Art Satherley, trashed most of the tunes we recorded and we had to learn six new songs in one day. He finally sat us down and told us that we were going to have to come up with original songs if we wanted to stay in the recording business. That was all new to us because we had never done that. So I started to try to write songs.” “During that time, I was moving my family and everything we owned in our car from Lubbock Texas to Oklahoma City for a new job. I drove all night across Texas looking right into a bright full moon. The moon was so bright that I could even turn off the car headlights and still see the road. And that’s where I got the idea for ‘When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again.’ And I wrote that song on that trip.” Walker and Sullivan recorded the song in 1941. In 1944, Cindy Walker charted the song to #5 on the Best Selling Folk Retail Records chart in the USA.
On January 6, 1957, Presley sang it in front of an audience estimated at 50 million viewers, as part of his third and last appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The song predicts that the guy singing the song, who has memories about his sweetheart, will find himself back in her arms.
“When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again” peaked at #1 in Vancouver (BC), Blytheville (AR) and Oshawa (ON), #2 in Toronto, and #3 in Detroit.
Elvis started off 1957 topping the Vancouver pop charts with “Too Much”, “Playing For Keeps”, “All Shook Up”, “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”, “Mean Woman Blues”, “Jailhouse Rock” and “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care” peaking at #1. During this chart-topping streak, one of Presley’s Top Ten hits in Vancouver was “(There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley“. Another was “Treat Me Nice”. 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.
Elvis kept on topping the charts into 1958 with “I Beg Of You”, “Don’t”, “Wear Your Ring Around My Neck”, “Hard Headed Woman”, “I Got Stung” and “One Night”. In the midst of this chart run came the release of the film King Creole. The theme song, “King Creole”, charted on the Vancouver pop charts.
During his chart-topping ways, Elvis 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”. Another hit that year was “A Fool Such As I”.
His return to civilian life saw a return to a string of successful single, album and film releases. In April 1960 Elvis topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Stuck On You. His followup, “It’s Now Or Never”, also topped the pop charts in August 1960, including in Vancouver. The B-side, “A Mess Of Blues”, also charted on CKWX as a double-sided number-one hit.
In November 1960, Elvis was back at number-one with “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”. His chart-topping ways continued in March 1961 with “Surrender”. 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. It went on to become his 13th hit album.
In September 1961, in Vancouver Presley topped the charts with “Marie’s The Name (His Latest Flame)” and “Little Sister”. Late in the fall the King of Rock n’ Roll had another Top Ten hit titled “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. The song was from the soundtrack from the film Blue Hawaii. The title track charted on the record surveys on Top40 radio in Vancouver in the winter of 1961.
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. Also in 1962 Elvis was filming a number of movies. The first to be released in the summer of ’62 was Kid Galahad, which included the song “King Of The Whole Wide World”. Presley also enjoyed hit singles with “Good Luck Charm” and “She’s Not You”.
His next film, Girls! Girls! Girls!, was released in late October. However, the debut single from the soundtrack, “Return To Sender”, was released in September prior to the film appearing in theaters. In Vancouver (BC) the title track from the film, “Girls! Girls! Girls!” also charted on the C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY.
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”, “Witchcraft”, “Bossa Nova Baby”, “Such A Night”, “Ain’t That Loving You Baby”, “Crying In The Chapel” and “Puppet On A String“.
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.
In 2022 a film about Presley, as seen through the narrative view of Col. Tom Parker, was released titled Elvis. Presley was played by Austin Butler.
March 6, 2023
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, (Dolphin Books, 1978).
Elizabeth Nix, “7 Fascinating Facts About Elvis Presley,” History.com, July 1, 2014
Wendy Sauer, Elvis Presley: A Complete Reference, (McFarland, 1984).
Gabriella Paiella, “Austin Butler is a hunk of burning love,” GQ, May 25, 2022.
“Elvis Solved the ‘Escort West’ Mystery,” Iverson Movie Ranch Blogspot, February 14, 2015.
Bobby Deen, “Pork and Greens Stir-Fry,” Pauladeen.com.
“Otis Blackwell, 70; Wrote Hits for Presley and Others,” New York Times, May 9, 2002.
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