- Elvis Presley’s “Love Me” was intended as the followup to one of his most famous and influential hits.
- “Love Me” was not initially by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
- Nicholas Cage performed the tune for one of the most beloved cult classic movies of the 1990s.
It might surprise some fans that Elvis Presley‘s “Love Me” was originally a parody song. It was initially given to him by a pair of songwriters as a joke. Subsequently, they revealed what they thought of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll‘s interpretation of it.
Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me’ was intended as the followup to his recording of ‘Hound Dog’
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were a songwriting duo known for writing hits such as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Bossa Nova Baby,” and “Hound Dog.” In the 2009 book Hound Dog: The Leiber and Stoller Autobiography, Leiber discussed how “Love Me” found its way to Elvis.
“After ‘Hound Dog’ hit big, [music publisher Jean] Aberbach wanted another Leiber-Stoller smash for Elvis,” he recalled. “I came up with a wild idea that was half-joke and half-serious. I thought of a song we’d put out on Spark, ‘Love Me,’ by Willy and Ruth. It had been covered by everyone from Georgia Gibbs to Billy Eckstine. Actually, we’d written it as a parody of a corny hillbilly ballad.”
The writers of the song preferred it to Elvis Presley’s version of ‘Hound Dog’
Stoller recalled that the corniness of the song didn’t get in its way. “Corny or not, we sent it over to Elvis’s people,” he said. “Lo and behold, Aberbach liked it, and so did Freddy Bienstock, Aberbach’s cousin and the professional manager of Elvis’s music company. Elvis recorded it and ‘Love Me’ turned into one of the big records of 1956.”
Stoller contrasted “Love Me” with another Elvis song from 1956: “Hound Dog.” “Of course, ’56 was the big breakthrough for Elvis,” he said. “Although we hadn’t been crazy about his interpretation of ‘Hound Dog,’ we were tremendously impressed with his performance of ‘Love Me.’” While the song was originally a spoof, Elvis sang it with the utmost sincerity.
‘Love Me’ became part of the ’68 Comeback Special’ and David Lynch’s ‘Wild at Heart’
“Love Me” was not a single. The tune appeared on the compilation album Elvis: 2nd to None, which was the sequel to the far more famous compilation Elvis: 30 #1 Hits. The former record climbed to No. 3 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 16 weeks.
Elvis famously included “Love Me” in the setlist for his career-defining ’68 Comeback Special. “Love Me” gained new attention in the 1990s when Nicholas Cage performed the song in David Lynch’s film Wild at Heart. In the film, he sings the song to his paramour, played by Laura Dern. Cage does a good job of replicating the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s vocals. Wild at Heart features several references to Elvis, including a performance of “Love Me Tender.”
“Love Me” started out as a joke but Elvis helped make it a beautiful love song.