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Heartbreak Hotel


This song was written by Elvis Aaron Presley, Mae Boren Axton and Thomas R. Durden and it became Elvis Presley’s breakthrough hit.  Steel guitarist and session musician Tommy Durden read a newspaper article from the Miami Herald about a lonely man who jumped from a hotel window killing himself, and left behind a piece of paper with the haunting words, “I walk a lonely street”.  The Miami Herald ran a photo of this corpse on the front page which had been discovered with no identification with the headline, “Do You Know This Man?”  This suicide note was the unlikely inspiration behind the song as Durden felt the line in the note resonated the blues and this became Elvis Presley’s first No. 1 hit and million-selling single which was released in early 1956.

Durden brought the article to his friend and co-writing partner Mae Boren Axton. At this time she was working as a 41-year-old High School English teacher who moonlighted as a journalist and a songwriter.  Axton had notched a few hits in the early ’50s with artists such as Perry Como and Ernest Tubb.  Mae had developed a number of connections in the music industry. like music executive, song publisher, and songwriter Fred Rose (famous for his work with Hank Williams).  Mae Axton also became a songwriting partner with Jacksonville musicians named Tommy Durden and Glen Reeves and Tommy Durden wrote the music for this song.

In late 1955, this multitalented, high-energy promoter and disc jockey took a part-time position as a public relations secretary for Elvis’ manger, Colonel Tom Parker.  When Mae first met Elvis, she felt he had everything he needed to become a star except a hit song.  Axton became known in the music industry as the “Queen Mother of Nashville”.  While Axton and Durden were working on the song, they were interrupted by performer Glen Reeves who agreed to make a demo of the song.  Mae had a son, Hoyt Axton who became a country singer and actor.  Hoyt grew up to star in Gremlins and he wrote ‘Joy To The World’, as well as another song that Elvis would later sing, ‘Never Been to Spain’.

Axton and Durden discussed how they could turn the newspaper article into a song, Axton suggested that there be a “heartbreak hotel” at the end of the lonely street.  With that flash of inspiration, the pair was off and running.  Painting a picture of a place where “broken-hearted lovers cry away their gloom” and “the desk clerk’s dressed in black,” they managed to convey in very few words a mood that was both romantically charged and funereal.  The lyrics describe a man who is totally despondent over losing his girl, that he decides to get a room at Heartbreak Hotel.  Elvis turned a dark ballad into a hip humping rockabilly (mixture of country & western with rock and roll) song.

Elvis just moved from Sun Records to RCA and the band that Elvis used on this song included guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, drummer D.J. Fontana, Chet Atkins on guitar, Floyd Cramer on piano and vocal group the Jordanaires which was a gospel trio consisting of Ben and Brock Speer of the Speer Family and Gordon Stoker.  It was eventually certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995.  Rolling Stone ranked it at #45 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame labeled it one of the songs that shaped rock and roll.  Popular music would never be the same again, after Presley made this groundbreaking record and it became a staple of Presley’s repertoire in his live appearances.

Well, since my baby left me
Well, I found a new place to dwell
Well, it’s down at the end of Lonely Street
At Heartbreak Hotel
Where I’ll be–where I get so lonely, baby
Well, I’m so lonely
I get so lonely, I could die

Although it’s always crowded
You still can find some room
For broken-hearted lovers
To cry there in the gloom
And be so, where they’ll be so lonely, baby
Well, they’re so lonely
They’ll be so lonely, they could die

Well, the bellhop’s tears keep flowin’
And the desk clerk’s dressed in black
Well, they’ve been so long on Lonely Street
Well, they’ll never, they’ll never get back
And they’ll be so, where they’ll be so lonely, baby
Well, they’re so lonely
They’ll be so lonely, they could die

Well now, if your baby leaves you
And you have a sad tale to tell
Just take a walk down Lonely Street
To Heartbreak Hotel
And you will be, you will be, you will be lonely, baby
You’ll be so lonely
You’ll be so lonely, you could die

Well, though it’s always crowded
You still can find some room
For broken-hearted lovers
To cry there in the gloom
And they’ll be so, they’ll be so lonely, baby
They’ll be so lonely
They’ll be so lonely, they could die

The challenge today is to focus on this song and use it for inspiration in any form of creative expression (including but not limited to short stories, a piece of flash fiction, poems, lyrics, artwork, photography, (etc.) that you can share with the writing community.  Alternatively, if you are a musician, and you have played this song solo or in a group, or if you sang this in a karaoke bar it would be awesome if you could post a video to showcase your own work.  You could write about how you learned to play the chords or how you learned the lyrics.  There is no need to stick with this song, as if you like to write about another Elvis Presley song, or another song that is about being lonely or about heartbreak, that would work.

The whole point of this MM Music challenge is to get you to think, to trigger something so that you can show how creative you are and everyone is welcome to participate.  If you have ever been dumped and you became heartbroken, or if you feel lonely, or if you have a story about suicide that would be appropriate.  Elvis achieved great success as a singer, but he also acted in 31 films, so you can write about one of his movies if you desire.  Elvis has a daughter, Lisa Marie Presley who married Michael Jackson, so you could also write about him.  Elvis had a fondness for prescription drugs, so maybe that would work as something to write about.  Elvis enjoyed eating food and his crazy diet consisted of cheeseburgers and milkshakes and I think this would make a good topic for someone to tackle.  The older Elvis was quite different from his younger self even though he died of heart failure, at the age of 42, as the King became a recluse in his later years, so that could also be a topic.

Dylan Hughes has next Friday, August 16 with her First Line Friday and then I will be back on Friday, August 23 with another MM Music Challenge where we will discuss the song ‘The Future’s So Bright’.  When you are finished writing your post, create a ping back to this post, but you can also place your link in the comments section below if you desire.  This Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge has a special feature called Mr. Linky, which will allow you to instantly link your post after you click the Mr. Linky Button, and then follow the directions that are given.

About newepicauthor

My About Me section is meant to provide my readers with an honest picture of myself that gives a little bit of background information on who I am and I will wrap this up with a catchy image. I am a story teller and I like to use my imagination. I am interested in many things, but a few of my favorites are watching the NFL and playing golf. I do not like onions and I always make sure that my food does not contain any. I had two wonderful parents, my dad Herb Adams was a television repairman and my mother Mary Adams was mostly a stay at home mom. They are both deceased now and I miss them. I am a retired Electrical Engineer specialized in control systems. I held many different positions because I worked mostly as a consultant. I did work as a Substitute Teacher, for a while, but the kids were awful. I am happiest when I am writing, as this gives my life has a purpose. Forming a sentence with meaningful words that articulate my inner feelings is an everyday quest for me. Every writer needs to tell their story, and all writers have their own style. All stories starts off with characters, who are able to entertain the reader. Creating realistic lovable characters is the best way to tell a story. If you are able to develop characters that become real to you, then you will know exactly what they will do say and do next and this lets your story progress to the completion. Writing changes everything and having the calling to create something new through the power of words is much more than just making marks on a page. Once written, a book can be used by many people to learn and be entertained. The act of writing can be compared to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as it contains an inherent fuzziness, because various people may derive different meanings from reading the same words. You can never know the true nature of written words and the best I can do is hope is that people will understand the meanings that I am trying to convey. There are no clear-cut laws on how to write and it is impossible for me to determine how my readers react to my books.

14 comments on “Heartbreak Hotel

  1. pensitivity101
    August 9, 2019

    This was released the year I was born, and I started buying Elvis records in the 60s, though I was never a true fan. I remember the night he died though. I was listening to Radio Luxembourg when it came across the news. They played nothing but Elvis records thereafter and all advertisements were cancelled.

    • newepicauthor
      August 9, 2019

      I really feel that Elvis was completely different in his later Los Vegas days after he achieved his fame and made all of his movies. He still had talent, but he did not have the spark that he had in his youth. This is the only song that I ever sang karaoke to and I did this in a night club in Hawaii.

      • pensitivity101
        August 9, 2019

        Mine was It’s Now or Never but at a bingo evening rather than karaoke and when I hit that final high ‘Love’ note, everything went quiet at just the wrong moment!

      • newepicauthor
        August 9, 2019

        I guess you have to be prepared for disaster as you never know what will happen while you are performing in front of others.

      • pensitivity101
        August 9, 2019

        It was a good laugh and at least I hit the note OK!

  2. newepicauthor
    August 9, 2019

    Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:

    Dou you enjoy music? Are you looking for something fun to write about? Stop by, as it is rocking out here today!

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  8. -Eugenia
    December 28, 2019

    I love your idea featuring music as a prompt plus this post about “Heartbreak Hotel” is excellent! Thank you for following BrewNSpew.

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