About the song
If you are a fan of Elvis Presley, you may have heard his version of the song “Harbor Lights”. But do you know the history behind this song and how Elvis came to record it? In this blog post, we will explore the origins and evolution of this classic tune.
“Harbor Lights” was written in 1937 by Hugh Williams (the pseudonym of exiled Austrian composer Will Grosz) and Jimmy Kennedy, a Northern Irish songwriter. The song describes the sight of harbour lights in the darkness, which signal that the ship carrying the singer’s sweetheart is sailing away. The lonely singer hopes that the lights will someday signal the sweetheart’s return.
The song was first recorded by Roy Fox & his Orchestra with vocal by Barry Gray in London in January 1937. Another famous early version was recorded by American singer Frances Langford in Los Angeles in September 1937. The song became popular again in 1950, when several versions charted on the Billboard charts, including those by Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby, Ray Anthony, and Ralph Flanagan. The biggest-selling version was by Sammy Kaye, which reached #1 on the charts.
Elvis Presley recorded his version of “Harbor Lights” at his first session at Sun Studios in July 1954. It was one of the first songs he recorded for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. Elvis was accompanied by Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass. The recording was not released until 1976, when it appeared on the album “Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 2”. It is now available on several compilation albums, such as “Elvis at Sun” .
Elvis’ version of “Harbor Lights” is different from the previous ones. He sings it in a slower tempo and with a more relaxed and intimate style. He also adds some improvisations and variations to the melody and lyrics. For example, he changes the line “I long to hold you near and kiss you just once more” to “I long to hold you dear and kiss you just once more”. He also repeats some words for emphasis, such as “gone gone gone” and “bring her back to me”. He also adds some vocal effects, such as humming and sighing.
Elvis’ version of “Harbor Lights” shows his early influences and his ability to make any song his own. It also shows his potential as a singer who could cross genres and appeal to different audiences. Although “Harbor Lights” was not a hit for Elvis, it is still a beautiful and memorable song that deserves to be heard by his fans.
Watch the song video :