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Although Elvis Presley performed many upbeat, happy tunes over the course of his career, many of his most memorable songs are more heartbreaking in nature. Such is the case with his 1969 single, “Don’t Cry Daddy.”
Written by Scott (Mac) Davis, Elvis recorded “Don’t Cry Daddy” on January 15, 1969. There has been some speculation that even though Elvis didn’t write the song, that it is meant to serve as a form consolation to his father, Vernon. In 1958, Vernon became a widower when his wife and Elvis’ mother, Gladys, passed away due to heart failure at the age of 46.
As to be expected, Elvis and Vernon were both devastated over their loss, and Elvis surely saw his father shed a few tears of heartache at the time. Even if “Don’t Cry Daddy” wasn’t meant for Vernon specifically, we’re sure he was deeply touched by it when he heard it.
The song was a major success for Elvis, peaking at the sixth spot on the U.S. charts and claiming the eighth spot on the charts in the UK.
In honor of this touching song, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite performances of it throughout the years, by Elvis and others.
During Elvis’ second season performing in Las Vegas, there were several recordings made of him performing “Don’t Cry Daddy” live. Many of these recordings were released, and are still available for fans to enjoy years later.
The clip above is from one of those live performances. You can tell from the look on Elvis’ face and the way he carries himself that the song is an emotional one for him to sing. His emotion comes through in his voice, adding further to the heartbreaking nature of the song.
Toward the end of the performance, Elvis looks up toward the ceiling, and we can’t help but wonder if he had his beloved mother on his mind when he did so.
In Elvis’ personal case, the story behind “Don’t Cry Daddy” seems to be that a father is mourning the loss of his wife and mother of his children. However, others have pointed out that the song could also be about divorce.
At some point in time, Conway Twitty and his daughter Kathy performed a duet of the song together. For them, the song takes on more of the “divorce” meaning, since Kathy’s mother and Conway divorced in 1984.
Due to their own personal connection to the song, Conway and Kathy changed the lyrics in some parts, with Kathy singing “daddy you still got me, Jimmy, and Joni,” naming her other siblings.
Conway and Kathy’s personal, father/daughter duet takes on a whole new, but just as emotional meaning as Elvis’ original version, and it is certainly worth listening to.
Kathy wasn’t the only person to record a father/daughter duet of “Don’t Cry Daddy” with her father. During the tribute concert that marked the 20th anniversary of Elvis’ death, his daughter, Lisa Marie, released a video of her singing “Don’t Cry Daddy” with him.
At the tribute concert, Elvis’ ex-wife and Lisa Marie’s mother, Priscilla, introduced her, saying that before she came on stage she had something to show everyone. After Priscilla stepped aside the video Lisa Marie had prepared started to play on a large screen.
In order to create the virtual duet, Lisa Marie took Elvis’ original vocals and then combined them with her own, also adding new instrumentals in the process. The video opens with live footage of Elvis singing the song, before switching to show Lisa Marie as she sings her part. There are also some photos and videos included of Elvis and Lisa Marie together throughout the years.
If you didn’t have tears in your eyes after listening to the last two videos, you certainly will after you watch this one.
Elvis produced many memorable songs, but those like “Don’t Cry Daddy” truly stick with you once you hear them. The amount of emotion Elvis poured into the song is clear, which is why it still maintains a lasting power.