This Rock Star Was Traumatized by Elvis Presley Singing ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’

Elvis Presley’s cover of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” is one of his more downbeat hits. Footage of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll performing the song appeared in a famous film about the singer. Subsequently, a rock star revealed the performance traumatized him.

Elvis Presley with a towel around his neck
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

This Elvis Presley documentary had a massive impact on a rock star

Over the course of his career, Elvis made many movies. Following the 1969 film Change of Habit, he only appeared in documentaries. One of these documentaries was a posthumous release called This Is Elvis.

The film portrays the rise and fall of Elvis. Considering it was released in 1981, four years after his death, it would have been nostalgic for people aware of his life story and informative for people who became interested in the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll after he died. One rock star said a scene in the film shook him to his core.

Elvis Presley wearing a striped shirt
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

This rock star compared Elvis Presley performing ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ to a crucifixion

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are an Australian band that released many of its most famous songs in the 1980s and 1990s. Nick Cave has a website called The Red Hand Files where he answers messages from fans. He revealed watching This Is Elvis upset him.

“In the final minutes of the film, we see Elvis, on stage in Las Vegas, sing the famous so-called ‘Laughing Version’ of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” he said. “The camera begins with a long shot and does a slow zoom in on Elvis’ face.

“Elvis is stoned and overweight and by the time he performs the disastrous central monologue, we can see the pure anguish of his performance, the drugged and mortified eyes, the terrible aloneness, the horror of the moment – his vast soul crucified on the cross of his own body as he blunders through the words,” Cave continued. “It is one of the most traumatic pieces of footage I have ever seen.”


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This scene from ‘This Is Elvis’ also moved Nick Cave

Cave was also moved by the next song in the film, “An American Trilogy.” “An American Trilogy” combines elements from three American folk songs: “Dixie,” “All My Trials,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” “Elvis dies and as the world media reports his death, we hear him sing ‘Dixie’ over shots of his funeral procession,” Cave recalled. Cave said the following image of Elvis singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” felt like a religious experience to him.

The way the world reacted to ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’

Elvis’ cover of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” seemed to have an impact on people besides Cave. The track reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 16 weeks. The Official Charts Company reports the song topped the charts in the United Kingdom as well, remaining on the chart for 15 weeks. “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” became a massive hit and it appears in a memorable movie scene.