Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender’ Was Written by a Munchkin From ‘The Wizard of Oz’
- Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” was written by a voice actor from The Wizard of Oz.
- The actor decided to give his writing credit on “Love Me Tender” to his wife.
- The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll chose the melody for “Love Me Tender.”
Elvis Presley‘s “Love Me Tender” is one of the most famous classic rock ballads. It was co-written by an actor who played one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. The actor discussed how the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll helped choose the melody for “Love Me Tender.”
The Muchkin mayor from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ co-wrote Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender’
Ken Darby was a composer who became known for working on movie musicals such as Camelot and The King and I. According to the 2023 book The Academy Awards Book of Lists: An Unauthorized, Unofficial, and Unprecedented History of the Oscars Part Two, Darby provided the voice for the Mayor of Munchkin City in The Wizard of Oz.
In addition, Darby co-wrote “Love Me Tender,” though he gave the writing credit to his wife, Vera Matson. The tune was based on the 1860s ballad “Aura Lee.” Considering the film Love Me Tender is set during the Civil War, reusing the melody of “Aura Lee” fit the time period.
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll chose the melody ‘Love Me Tender’ from a series of melodies
Colonel Tom Parker’s secretary Trude Forsher, released a book called The “Love Me Tender” Years Diary in 2006. The book includes an interview with Darby “I was told the period was 1864, and the challenge was to provide Elvis Presley with a series of songs which would be ingenious to the period and yet satisfy the demands of his following for Presley-type music,” he said. “I was made aware of the potential impact of a sweet ballad if sung by Presley as his theme song.
“I brought a lot of songs in and played them and studied them,” he added. “In the end, there was just a small selection, five melodies.
“When Elvis came on the lot to start his movie, we invited him to listen to them and to choose a melody for the theme song of his new picture,” Darby recalled. “He listened and selected one particular melody. It was an instant decision. He knows what he likes when he hears it; he can feel a melody and make it his own instantaneously.”
What Ken Darby thought of Elvis Presley’s talent
Darby said Elvis altered the melody to “Love Me Tender” to suit his needs. Subsequently, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll received a writing credit for his work on the song, making it one of his most famous tunes with that distinction. Darby said Elvis had a remarkable ear for music.
The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic American films, while “Love Me Tender” is one of America’s most essential songs. Thanks to Darby’s talent, The Wizard of Oz and “Love Me Tender” will always be connected.