Elvis Presley Didn’t Like ‘Burning Love’ for 1 Reason

Burning Love” is undoubtedly one of Elvis Presley’s most famous late-period hits. However, that doesn’t mean he liked it. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had one very specific objection to the song. Even the musician who played bass on the song didn’t like it. Here’s why.

Elvis Presley rehearsing on 'The Milton Berle Show' on June 4, 1956
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley’s drummer reveals what the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll thought of ‘Burning Love’

Firstly, a little background. Elvis’ “Burning Love” is one of a long line of songs about love and sex that compare intimacy to a religious experience. Later songs that use the same comparison include Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” and Lana Del Rey’s “Religion.” While all of those songs are at least semi-serious, “Burning Love” seems a little more deliberately camp. It definitely sticks out from other songs of the same ilk.

During an interview with Rolling Stone, Elvis’ drummer Ronnie Tutt said he and others tried to get Elvis to return to his musical roots later in his career. “Burning Love” is much more similar to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s early material than his 1960s ballads. However, he still had issues with “Burning Love.” “We basically tried to influence him to do more rock ‘n’ roll,” he says. “‘Burning Love’ had some potential. He never felt comfortable with it because he had a hard time with those lyrics.”

“Burning Love”

Why Elvis Presley didn’t like the lyrics of ‘Burning Love’

Why exactly did Elvis take issue with the lyrics to “Burning Love?” According to the book Elvis Presley: Caught in a Trap, Elvis thought the lyrics were strange. When Elvis recorded “Burning Love,” he added lyrics that referenced one of his earlier hits. Near the end of “Burning Love,” he sings that he is a “hunk a hunk a burnin’ love.”

This is a callback to his classic 1960 hit “A Big Hunk o’ Love” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. “A Big Hunk o’ Love” is so iconic, there’s a burger at Red Robin named after it. Elvis Presley: Caught in a Trap says the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll re-added “A Big Hunk o’ Love” back into his repertoire around the time he released “Burning Love.” In addition, to their somewhat similar lyrics, both tracks are heavily indebted to 1950s rock ‘n’ roll.

“A Big Hunk o’ Love”

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After recording “Burning Love,” Elvis commented how it was difficult to find good hard rock songs. In addition, the song’s guitarist, Emory Gordy Jr., was embarrassed by the final track. He said it sounded like “a bass solo featuring Elvis Presley.”

How the world reacted to the song

So did the public take issue with “Burning Love?” The song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would have reached the pinnacle of the chart if not for Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling.” In addition, “Burning Love” gained new attention when it was featured in the closing of the classic Disney film Lilo & Stitch. Elvis wasn’t a huge fan of the track, but the world didn’t agree.