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In 1969, Elvis Presley was beginning to experience his second round of career success, following his immensely popular ’68 Comeback Special.
Prior to the special, Elvis was extremely unhappy with his career. Between January 1967 and May 1968, only two of his eight singles charted in the Top 40, and he hadn’t had a Top 10 hit in the U.S. since 1965. The Comeback Special helped turn things around for Elvis, but his true lifesaver was his 1969 single, “Suspicious Minds.”
“Suspicious Minds” was originally written and recorded in 1968 by songwriter Mark James. When Mark wrote the song, he was experiencing some issues with his wife at the time, who was suspicious of his feelings for his childhood sweetheart. Mark decided to write “Suspicious Minds” based on the situation, telling the story of mistrust in a relationship.
However, Mark’s version of the song was a flop, and never made its way onto the charts.
In late 1968, Don Cruise, the partner to producer Chips Moman, told Mark that Elvis was booked to record in their studio. Don asked Mark if he knew of any songs that would be a good fit for Elvis, and Mark, feeling that Elvis needed to portray a more mature sound than before, suggested “Suspicious Minds.”
After Elvis heard the song he felt confident that he could turn it into a hit. He finished recording it on January 23, 1969 and released it as a single on August 26 of that year.
Elvis was right, the song that was a failure for Mark was a major hit for “The King,” becoming his 18th number one single in the U.S. Many regard the song as one of Elvis’ signature tunes, and credit it as for helping to revamp his career.
To this day, the song remains a fan favorite, with Rolling Stone ranking it as the 91st best song on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, which was published in 2004.
Elvis performed “Suspicious Minds” for the first time at the Las Vegas International Hotel in July of 1969, and was still performing it in Vegas a year later in 1970. You can watch one of those live performances in the video below.
After years of career disappointment, Elvis managed to reclaim his throne with his now iconic version of “Suspicious Minds,” and whenever you hear him sing the song, it’s no surprise why.
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