Song Lyric Sunday – Black Velvet

Our host of Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams, has prompted us with ‘Colors’ this week. I found so many songs using colors in the title, let alone the lyrics, that it was hard to decide on which one to go with. I settled for one I am particularly fond of called “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles. It’s fantastic song and I’m sure you’ll know it.

Have a great Sunday!

This song is about Elvis Presley. Some lyric analysis:

“Jimmie Rodgers on the Victrola up high” – Jimmie Rodgers, a country music pioneer from Elvis’ home state of Mississippi, influencing Elvis (the baby) at an early age. The Victrola is the record player, played loudly.

“Mama’s dancin’ with baby on her shoulder” – Gladys Presley dancing with the infant Elvis.

“Black velvet and that little boy’s smile” – You can buy a black velvet Elvis painting at any respectable yard sale. Early female fans were drawn to his “Little boy smile.”

“Black velvet with that slow southern style” – Elvis delivered some of his songs with slow, undulating hips. Check out “Steamroller Blues” live.

“Up in Memphis the music’s like a heatwave” – Sun Studios. The epicenter of early rock music and where Elvis recorded.

“White lightning, bound to drive you wild” – rock music and booze.

“Mama’s baby’s in the heart of every school girl” – A reference to the baby in the early part of the song, being loved by all the young girls.

“Love Me Tender leaves ’em cryin’ in the aisle” – Love Me Tender was a huge hit for Elvis in 1956.

“The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true” – Elvis’ legendary hips swivel, the Pelvis.

“Every word of every song that he sang was for you. In a flash he was gone, it happened so soon, what could you do?” – Elvis died suddenly in 1977.

This was a Canadian production: The song was written by the Canadian musicians David Tyson and Christopher Ward, and Myles is from Toronto. Ward and Myles were a couple and also worked together – she sang on his 1981 solo album Time Stands Still. Teaming up with Tyson, Ward put together a demo tape for Myles which got her a deal with Atlantic Records. 

Produced by Tyson and Ward, Alannah Myles was her first album, and it was a huge hit in Canada, becoming the top-selling debut album in Canadian history. “Black Velvet” was the first US single, and it was a massive hit, rising to #1 in March 1990, where it stayed for two weeks. The US follow-up single was another song written by Tyson and Ward, “Love Is.” That song went to #36 and was her last chart entry in America. She did have several more hits in Canada.

Christopher Ward got the idea for this song when he was a VJ for the Canadian music channel MuchMusic. He was sent to Memphis to cover the 10th anniversary of Elvis’ death (August 16, 1987), which exposed him to many fervent Elvis fans. Inspired by their passion for the rocker, he took notes while he was working on the special (which was called Mecca in Memphis), writing lyrics based on what Elvis meant to his fans and what it must have been like for him growing up in the South.

Myles won a Grammy award for Best Female Rock Performance for this song, along with several Juno Awards. Additionally, this won a Diamond award for sales in excess of 1,000,000 in Canada, the only time an artist has won this for her debut record. ASCAP awarded the song a ‘Millionaire Award’ in 2005 for over 4 million radio plays in the USA.

According to the song’s writer Christopher Ward, a key line in this song is “A new religion that will bring you to your knees.” He says he got the idea for that line after realizing that Elvis’ affect on fans was similar to what churchgoers would feel after being exhorted by fundamentalist preachers.

Courtesy of Songfacts

Lyrics

Mississippi in the middle of a dry spell
Jimmie Rodgers on the Victrola up high
Mama's dancin' with baby on her shoulder
The sun is settin' like molasses in the sky
The boy could sing, knew how to move ev'rything
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for
Black velvet and that little boy smile
Black velvet with that slow southern style
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
Black velvet if you please

Up in Memphis the music's like a heat wave
White Lightnin' bound to drive you wild
Mama's baby's in the heart of ev'ry school girl
"Love Me Tender" leaves 'em cryin' in the aisle
The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for

Black velvet and that little boy smile
Black velvet and that slow southern style
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
Black velvet if you please

Ev'ry word of ev'ry song that he sang was for you
In a flash he was gone, it happened so soon
What could you do?

Black velvet and that little boy smile
Black velvet in that slow southern style
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
Black velvet if you please

Black velvet and that little boy smile
Black velvet in that slow southern style
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
Black velvet if you please

If you please
If you please
If you please

Writer/s: Christopher Ward, David Tyson 
Publisher: Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., OLE MEDIA MANAGEMENT LP
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

  21 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Black Velvet

  1. February 6, 2021 at 11:22 pm

    That’s a very good song. Someone used it for their Battle of the Bands this week, in fact.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 7:15 am

      I thought it was amazing when it came out, and still do. Shame we didn’t get more from her. Such a great sound too

  2. February 7, 2021 at 4:55 am

    I have always loved this song! So glad you picked it.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 8:21 am

      Thanks Mel. It is a really good one ☺️

  3. aisasami
    February 7, 2021 at 8:48 am

    This is a great song! I never heard of this album or song before, but love it! I love the backstory too.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m happy you liked it ☺️

  4. February 7, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Great choice. I chose a different Alannah Myles song this week.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks Maggie. I wish she was still performing;. I loved her voice. ☺️

  5. February 7, 2021 at 9:51 am

    You can buy a black velvet Elvis painting at any respectable yard sale. It was great to hear this song again, it is too bad that she did not have more hits.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      I know Jim. What a voice she had. Too bad ☺️

  6. February 7, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Black velvet is a cocktail of Guinness and champagne (or stout and white sparkling wine if you’re on a budget)
    Loved this record when it came out.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      Have you ever tried one? I can’t handle Guinness even if you put champagne in it 😧
      Yes, it’s a great song. I loved it too ☺️👍

      • February 7, 2021 at 2:26 pm

        No Christine. I don’t like Guinness anyway, so when Hubby and I visited the factory in 1994, and were each given a free half pint to sample he had mine. Many years ago I dated a guy who worked behind the bar servng cocktails and I tried a few, but not the Black Velvet. My favourite was the subtle Blue Moon….. cointreau, lime and lemonade.

      • Christine Bolton
        February 7, 2021 at 2:40 pm

        Yes a blue moon sounds more palatable 🤣

      • February 7, 2021 at 3:37 pm

        It was quite lovely

  7. February 7, 2021 at 11:58 am

    I really enjoy this song. For some reason I associate it with Stevie Nicks. I need to remember this is Alannah Myles’ song. What a voice!!

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 1:43 pm

      Yes she has the same raspy voice like Stevie Nicks. I’m happy you liked it ☺️

  8. February 7, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    Fantastic write up on the story behind the song. As an Elvis fan, I can vouch for the spiritual vibe I get from him. Like churchgoers….pretty much! I’ve always loved this song! Myles killed it with her vocals! 🙂

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks Lisa. Yes she was amazing and then poof, she disappeared😕

  9. February 7, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Gorgeous song and voice. I always liked this one. 🙂

    • Christine Bolton
      February 7, 2021 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks Barbara. Yes, what a voice! ☺️

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