Is there any single artist with so much fame and tragedy in the world? Elvis Presley was the king of rock and roll and stole millions of people’s hearts throughout his career.
He is a milestone in rock and roll history. Studying his songs gives you much intuition and knowledge about the 40s and 50s music because he recorded many covers and newer versions of the country and blues goldies.
Can’t Help Falling In Love
We can include this tune in the king’s top 5 most famous songs. In 1961, the tune was released and appeared on his album Blue Hawaii. It is a pop ballad song that is recorded in Hollywood, California.
Have a capo on the 2nd fret to match the original tuning setup of the song. There are changing strumming patterns combined with arpeggios and 2 main chord progressions. You can try going for Dm7, where you play F as an alternative, as a suggestion.
No single person listens to music and doesn’t know Jailhouse Rock. When the year was 1957, rock and roll’s most famous song was released. The songwriters of this tune were Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber.
This tune is played with a capo on the 1st fret. There are only 3 chords to play it, and it has a distinctive strumming pattern that you can hear perfectly from the music once you have figured out the traffic and the progression.
This tune belongs to Mark James, who is known as an American songwriter. In 1969, Elvis released a new version of the tune as a single in country rock, soul, and pop style.
Written in the key of G, this intermediate song has two main strumming patterns and beautiful arpeggio compositions. This tune will sound amazing with a bright, clean electric guitar tone. The co-existing of drum beats and the rhythm of the guitar is remarkable.
In The Ghetto
Here is a gospel, pop, rock, and country song by the king. In The Ghetto is a song from 1969 and featured on Elvis’ album, From Elvis in Memphis, originally written by Mac Davis.
This song is played with a hollow-body guitar and composed in the key of C. Following the main chord progression, the guitar plays riff-a-like arpeggios with hammer-ons and pull-offs.
In March 1969, this legendary song was released by Frank Sinatra and became very popular. After 8 years, Elvis Presley performed it on stage and featured it on his album Elvis in Concert. Sid Vicious also covered this one.
The piano is the main instrument of this performance. And the acoustic guitar only follows the main piano progression and fills the space. There is a long chord progression that plays throughout the song.
Blue Suede Shoes
Here is one of the greatest rockabilly tunes by the king. This rock and roll classic was released in 1956, originally by Carl Perkins. The same year, Elvis made his rendition of the tune very popular. It featured on his self-titled album.
This tune is a beginner song based on an easy rock and roll riff. It consists of 4 chords; this song is one of the easiest classics to play on standard tuning.
It’s Now Or Never
Another famous hit of Elvis Presley, It’s Now Or Never, was out in 1960 as a single. This tune sold 20 million worldwide. It represents well how Elvis can be so soft and aggressive simultaneously.
The song begins with a classical guitar. The guitarist uses a fast-picking technique and plays this intro melody. Then the song shifts into piano-based riffs, and the guitar follows it as a rhythm instrument.
Return To Sender
This 2 minute-length rock and roll pop tune will blow your mind. It makes you dance every hour of the day. In 1962, the king released this tune through his album Girls! Girls! Girls!. It was well-received and praised for its lyrics and musical compositions for years.
To fit the original sound, have a capo on the 1st fret. An electric guitar plays the chord progression in the background with a hazed, clean tone. It sounds great, and the chord progression is not that hard to play.
This track is Elvis’ favorite Christmas song from his recordings. In 1965 he released it on his album, Elvis’ Christmas Album. It is considered a Christmas country rhythm and blues. The Beach Boys have also made a cover version of this tune.
Blue Christmas is composed in the key of E, and it is easy to play. There is a blues progression throughout the tune and the second guitar does a couple of fillings and licks here and there. Here is a stunning live performance featuring Martina McBridge.
If I Can Dream
This track is one of the most beautiful songs of Elvis’ Comeback Special in 1968. He performed it as the final song of the legendary performance. The song was released the same year and appeared on Elvis’ self-titled album.
The song begins with a bass progression, and the guitars follow it with an intermediate chord progression. The guitars mostly fill the space and give the base for the king to sing on it.
Big Mama Thronton recorded this blues classic in 1952 as a single. It was so popular, and there were so many cover versions for years. Elvis made it even more popularized after his 1956 release.
Hound Dog is played with only 5 chords, and the electric guitars play the blues riffs with mildly distorted crunchy tones. There are also 2 blues solos on this one, as the difference from late Elvis tunes.
A Little Less Conversation
One of the most popular hits by the king, this song is known by millions, not only fans. After Junkie XL’s remix, the new generations could get to know this track even to this day. The track was originally released in 1968 and featured on Elvis’ album Almost in Love.
This track is a beginner song to play, but there is a lick and a chord progression to figure out. Once you get that, you’ll rock with the king for sure. The guitarist plays the lick in certain sections, and you have to listen carefully to the song.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
This song is a beautiful pop-rock gospel by Simon & Garfunkel. They released it in 1970, and after that so, many artists, including Aretha Franklin, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Linda Clifford, and Elvis Presley, covered it. Elvis’ version is, of course, brilliant.
This track is for advanced guitarists. It has a complicated piano progression that we need to adjust to the guitar. You must study this one carefully and patiently. But after you learn the progressions and the traffic, it is easy to strum and follow the music.
Always On My Mind
Always On My Mind is a famous ballad from 1972, released as a single by Gwen McCrae first. Later musicians, including Elvis, Willie Nelson, John Wesley, and Pet Shop Boys, covered and performed it many times.
This great song is again a piano-based track. The rhythm guitar follows the chord progressions, and the lead guitar plays distinctive licks and fillings between lyrics and certain sections. The lead guitar sounds amazing and plays little solos with a slide ring.
I think Heartbreak Hotel is one of Elvis’ greatest rockabilly songs. This track was a single released in 1956. It peaked at number one in so many charts in the same year. Willie Nelson and Leon Russel also performed this one.
The tune has a rockabilly progression, and 3 guitars are playing this. One is playing a simple chord progression as the rhythm, one is playing little licks of two-note chord fillings, and the other is playing a bass walking.
I Just Can’t Help Believing
B.J. Thomas released this successful record in 1970 with his album; Everybody’s Out of Town. Next year Elvis put his cover to his album, That’s the Way It Is. This track is a great blue-eyed soul tune that is loved by many.
You need a capo on the 1st fret to play this one. There is the main chord progression with easy chords. All the instruments in this tune follow it gently.
Baby, What You Want Me To Do
This track belongs to Jimmy Reed; his 1959 release was a huge hit for him back in the day. Later in 1968, Elvis performed it on his comeback special show. It was a stunning performance.
This one is a 12-bar blues track played in standard tuning. Set your guitars to a crunchy, bright tone to get the right sound. Then follow the 12-bar blues in E with the attitude you are good to go.
All Shook Up
Here is an early rock and roll release of the King from 1957. Later, Billy Joel and The Beatles covered this tune; you should check them out. Also, they are great. This tune peaked at number one in all available charts that year.
This one is a short-length tune that follows a bluesy rock and roll progression. It is played with a capo on the 1st fret while tuned in standard tuning, and there are only 3 chords to play.
Are You Lonesome Tonight
This track is a traditional pop song from 1927 recorded by Charles Hart. Elvis Presley covered it in 1960 as a very smart move for his career. It became very popular after.
The tune was composed in the key of C. It is a beginner song with an acoustic guitar and simple strumming patterns, and this gentle tune has a long chord progression for the whole song.
Here is a big rock and roll song released in 1961. Elvis recorded this one in Nashville, Tennessee, which became a big hit for him. A great musician, Dwight Yoakam, has a great version of this tune, and later, Robert Plant, Pearl Jam, and Ry Cooder covered it also.
This one is a strictly rock and roll tune with a beautiful composition. It is a beginner song, and there are 4 chords to play it. Also, it is played with electric guitars and can be one of Elvis’ most guitar-oriented tunes.
Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas is a musical motion picture that was published in 1964. It starred Elvis Presley, considered the king’s top film. You should also check out the song in one of the famous movies, The Big Lebowski.
This one is an absolute beginner tune and has 5 chords to play. The chords are very easy on this one; the only thing to achieve is the fast strumming pattern and learning the traffic of the song.
For The Good Times
This one is originally a Bill Nash tune from 1968, and later Ray Price made his version in 1970. It is a well-known country song that Elvis later also covered.
To match the original sound, have a capo on the 3rd fret of your guitar. It is a beginner tune with a simple chord progression and strumming patterns. Also, you can play it with an acoustic guitar, for sure.
That’s Alright Mama
Arthur Crudup, the blues singer, originally wrote and recorded this song in 1946. Elvis made a new record in Tennessee of the great tune in 1954 and released it as a single.
This tune is a beginner blues song played in a rockabilly style. The chords and the progression are simple. Listen carefully to the strumming patterns.
Trying To Get To You
Here is a rhythm and blues song from 1956, covered by Elvis. It was written originally by a 50s band called The Eagles -not the famous rock band- in 1954.
This tune is a blues in E Major. So you play E, A, B7, and E7. It can be played with an acoustic or an electric guitar, as you prefer. Have fun!
Don’t Be Cruel
Elvis recorded this song in 1956, and Otis Blackwell, a great songwriter, originally wrote it. This one is a strict rockabilly song recorded in New York City.
Don’t Be Cruel has only 4 chords, and it is an absolute beginner song that everybody can play. The same easy chord progression goes throughout the tune.
Kentucky Rain is a soft country rock song from the year 1970. This tune is loved by fans very much and sold more than one million.
The guitars aren’t much significant on this one. Yet, you can make an acoustic guitar version of this easily by following the main chord progression.
Promised Land is an amazing Chuck Berry tune from 1964. Elvis made a country rock version of this rock and roll tune and released it in 1974. It was featured on Elvis’ same-titled album.
This one is an absolute beginner song that is a blues composition in A major. So it is easy to play by following the chords A, D, and E and having a distinctive rock and roll guitar setup.
Good Luck Charm
Here is a single from 1962. This pop, rock, and roll song reached number 1 in the same year. It was recorded in Nashville.
It is a must to learn this one for all acoustic players because it follows a very classic chord progression for American country, rock, and roll style.
(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame
This tune is an early 60s rock-and-roll tune from the king’s discography. He recorded it in Nashville on RCA Studios. Del Shannon first released it, though.
With only 4 chords, this tune is a simple one. It has a distinctive strumming pattern, so you’ll learn how to play once you listen to it.
Love Me Tender
This one is an important song for Elvis’ career. It was featured in many TV shows and movies that became very popular in America and cherished with the nation’s love. In 1956, his same-titled EP featured the tune recorded in Los Angeles, California.
This folk, rockabilly, and pop song is an intermediate tune because there is a couple of unusual chords in the progression. However, they are easy to play after you learn them.
Help Me Make It Through The Night
This one is a ballad by Kris Kristofferson, first released in 1970. Sammi Smith later covered it as a famous version, and then many popular musicians such as Joan Baez, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Mariah Carey, and Elvis recorded this tune.
The tune is originally a piano song. Still, you can make an acoustic version by following the easy chord progressions and adjusting the strumming patterns with your singing.
Don’t is another ballad, a pop single from 1958. It was used in the musical show Smokey Joe’s Cafe. The backing vocals, The Jordanaires, are also featured on this record, like Viva Las Vegas.
Play this ballad while tuned in Standard Tuning. This one has many chords to play, yet it has a simple chord composition.
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
This tune is originally a Lloyd Price tune from 1952 Louisiana. Elvis recorded his version 4 years later and performed it on stage many times.
The tune has a rhythm and blues structure in A. It sounds great, either with an electric or an acoustic guitar. So fun to play and sing this song.
This track is a huge hit in America, released in 1955 and composed originally by Alex North. So many musicians recorded it, used it, and performed it along the way. Elvis’ 1978 version of Unchained Melody is only one of the many versions but maybe one of the bests.
The song is again a piano-based one. The chords are easy to follow, and you can easily create an acoustic version.
I Want You I Need You And I Love You
Written by Mysels and Kosloff, many fans love this 1956 single by the king. It is a rock and roll ballad recorded in RCA Studios.
This tune is an advanced song, and the chord progressions might take time to learn. But besides examining the chords, the strumming pattern goes all the same.
A Fool Such As I
In 1952, Hank Snow originally released this country song. Bob Dylan, Jo Stafford, and many more covered it later. And Elvis made a rock and roll-infused version himself.
This tune is played with a crunchy electric guitar tone. It is a rock and roll song that follows a main bluesy progression, and you can hear the lead guitar playing little licks and fillings here and there.
Little Junior’s Blue Flames recorded this tune in 1953. There is a movie called Mystery Train, shot by Jim Jarmusch, inspired by this tune.
This electric blues or Memphis blues tune was covered first by Elvis and had a rockabilly touch. The tune goes with a blues progression throughout the song. It is played in the key of E and has 3 chords.
Blue Moon Of Kentucky
This 1947 bluegrass song belongs to Bill Monroe. Elvis recorded his version 7 years later. It was produced by Sam Phillips, like most of the early releases of Elvis Presley.
It is another beginner tune that has the bluegrass structure in A major. I like to play this with different effects and tones and experiment with the sound. However, it is a classic, and learning it like it is first is a priority.
Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)
Here is another beautiful cover record of the king. The tune was originally released by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra in 1940. It has so many different versions and records through the years. Elvis released his version in 1972 with his album Elvis Now.
The tune is played with a capo on the 2nd fret. Have a crunchy, bright electric guitar tone, and go for it. The guitarist plays great stuff on this one.
When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold
This song belongs to Wile Walker and Gene Sullivan. And it was released in 1941. In 1956, Elvis’ self-titled album featured his cover version, and he also performed it on TV in front of 50 million people, they assume.
This tune follows a beautiful and simple chord progression composed in the F key.
I hope you like to practice these songs of the king and are inspired by them. Listening to them carefully before you try to learn the progressions would be a good way to add the tunes to your repertoire.
Don’t forget to be amazed and have fun while you play these classics. And watching the newly released movie can also be inspiring on your journey of learning these goldies. It would be great to share these old songs on the upcoming Christmas as well!
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