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Music

The Elvis Presley song Bruce Springsteen couldn't live without

@josephtaysom

Bruce Springsteen arrived on the scene as the All-American heir to Elvis Presley’s throne. He was anointed ‘The Boss’ similarly to how his hero was labelled. Growing up as part of the rock and roll generation, there was no individual the ‘Born to Run’ singer admired more than Presley.

Elvis was the first artist Springsteen fell in love with, and even when he became a superstar in his own right, that obsession still burned brightly. In fact, Bruce even tried to track him down and sneak into Graceland on one balmy evening, but, unfortunately, his own clumsiness and on-site security prevented him from meeting his hero.

While on his Born To Run tour, Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s Stevie Van Zandt decided to haul a taxi to the residence after playing a show in Memphis. They got as far as security before they were stopped, and although ‘The Boss’ had recently been on the front cover of Newsweek and had become a big name on the touring circuit, the pair were informed in no uncertain terms they weren’t allowed inside.

His fascination with ‘The King’ dates back to childhood, and the singer still vividly remembers the first time Presley enriched his life. Springsteen was a seven-year-old child glued to the television and was blown away by the medley of hits performed by the singer whose set included ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, ‘Love Me Tender’, and ‘Hound Dog’.

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The latter track particularly stuck with Springsteen, and when he appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs, he said it was a track he could not live without. If you’re unfamiliar with the show’s format, celebrity guests are tasked with picking eight songs with them to a fictional desert island and a luxury item. Explaining why he picked ‘Hound Dog‘, Springsteen reflected on that first time he heard him and said: “When I heard it, it just shot straight through to my brain.”

He added: “I realised, suddenly, that there was more to life than what I’d been living. I was then in pursuit of something and there’d been a vision laid out before me. You were dealing with the pure thrust, the pure energy of the music itself. I was so very young but it still hit me like a thunderbolt.”

Although ‘Hound Dog’ wasn’t originally written or even performed first by Elvis — the track was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for Big Mama Thornton in 1952 — as soon as ‘The King’ recorded his vocals, the song’s pop culture ownership changed hands.

Watching Presley play ‘Hound Dog’ on The Ed Sullivan Show was the first domino to fall in Springsteen’s career. If that crucial moment had never happened, he might have never picked up a guitar and graduated into becoming ‘The Boss’.

Listen to Springsteen’s full episode of Desert Island Discs below.

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