Elvis Presley Was Angry ‘For Days’ When He Had to Sing This Kids’ Song
Elvis Presley sang a lot of famous songs, however, he wasn’t a fan of all of them. According to Priscilla Presley, he felt downright degraded when he was asked to sing a famous track and stormed out of the studio. Here’s the story of Elvis’ cover of a famous song — and how the public reacted to it.
Two major trends in Elvis Presley’s career
To understand this song, one has to understand two facets of Elvis’ career. Firstly, many of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most famous songs are covers. For example, he might be the artist most associated with tracks like “Hound Dog,” “Blue Christmas,” and “Blue Hawaii,” but these songs did not originate with him. He might be the most recent rock star whose catalogue of hits includes a huge number of covers.
Secondly, many of Elvis’ most infamous recordings came from film soundtracks. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s filmography is sometimes pretty embarrassing and it has some embarrassing songs to go with it. Who could forget such infamous duds as “Queenie Wahine’s Papaya,” “Do the Clam,” and “Rock-a-Hula Baby?” One of these soundtrack songs was a cover that really bugged Elvis.
Elvis Presley was ‘incensed for days’ after this studio session
For his 1968 comedy Double Trouble, Elvis recorded a cover of the famous children’s song “Old MacDonald.” While there’s nothing wring with “Old MacDonald,” it doesn’t seem like the sort of track a major rock star would record. According to the book Elvis by the Presleys, Priscilla recalled her husband being quite upset at this song choice. She blamed Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
“The Colonel was something,” she opined. “No one had a greater influence on Elvis’ career, yet their arrangement supposedly said that the Colonel would deal with business and the Colonel would deal with his art. Elvis really didn’t want him at the studio — either the movie studio or the music studio. But of course it was the Colonel who had negotiated the deals for the film and records, which meant Elvis’ artistic opportunities were limited. I remember when Elvis had to sing ‘Old MacDonald’ in the film Double Trouble, he stormed out of the session. He was incensed for days. ‘You mean it’s come to this?”’ he bitterly complained. ‘Those d*mn fools got me singing “Old MacDonald” on the back of a truck with a bunch of animals. Man, it’s a joke and the joke is on me.’”
How the public reacted to ‘Double Trouble’
The song was included on the soundtrack of Double Trouble. So did it help Elvis to sell the album? The Double Trouble soundtrack reached No. 47 on the Billboard 200. Considering the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll released No. 1 albums like ELV1S: 30 No. 1 Hits and Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite, the soundtrack wasn’t much of a hit. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s “Old MacDonald” is rarely found on his greatest hits compilations, showing that perhaps the King was vindicated for hating the recording.