About the song
If you are a fan of Elvis Presley, you probably know his song “Kentucky Rain”, a soft-rock ballad about a man searching for his lost love in the rainy countryside. But do you know the history behind this song? Here are some interesting facts about how it was written, recorded and performed by the King of Rock and Roll.
– The song was written by Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard in 1969. Rabbitt was a young songwriter who worked at Hill and Range Publishers in Nashville, and Heard was a producer who had some success with songs like “Tears and Roses”. Rabbitt had originally planned to record the song himself, but Lamar Fike, one of Elvis’ best friends who also worked at the publishing company, heard the demo and brought it to Elvis. Rabbitt later said that he was happy to give up the song to Elvis, because he was the King.
– The song was recorded by Elvis on February 19, 1969 at American Sound Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. It was part of a landmark two-week session that produced material for two hit albums: From Elvis In Memphis and From Memphis to Vegas / From Vegas to Memphis. However, “Kentucky Rain” did not make the cut for either album, and was released as a single on January 29, 1970, with “My Little Friend” as the B-side. It was one of the decade’s first hits for Elvis, reaching #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also charted in Canada, UK, Ireland and Australia.
– The song features Ronnie Milsap on piano, who later became a country star himself. Milsap recalled that Elvis told him to play “more thunder on the piano”. Other musicians on the record include Bobby Wood on piano, Bobby Emmons on organ, Reggie Young on guitar, Tommy Cogbill on bass and Gene Chrisman on drums. The song and session were produced by Felton Jarvis (RCA Victor) and Chips Moman (American Sound Studio of Memphis).
– The song tells the story of a man who is looking for his lover who left him without a word. He drives through rural Kentucky in a persistent rain storm, asking strangers if they have seen her. He wonders why she left him and what he did wrong. He vows to keep searching until he finds her or dies trying. The song has a melancholy mood and a catchy chorus that repeats the line “Kentucky rain keeps pouring down”.
– The song was performed live by Elvis several times in 1970, including his February engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. He introduced it as a new song that was “out about a week”. A live version from this period was included on the 2001 box set Live In Vegas. The song was also featured on the 2016 album The Wonder of You, which paired Elvis’ vocals with new orchestral arrangements by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
– The song was covered by other artists, including Eddie Rabbitt himself, who released his own version in 1978 on his album Variations. Other notable covers include those by Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Jones, Glen Campbell and Dwight Yoakam.
“Kentucky Rain” is a classic song by Elvis Presley that showcases his vocal talent and emotional expression. It is also a testament to his collaboration with talented songwriters and musicians who helped him create some of his best work in the late 1960s and early 1970s.