The music world came to a halt during late December, 1958, when Elvis received his draft notice. Fans suffered without him until March 5, 1960, when he received his honorable discharge, and all was right with the world again.
His manager, Colonel Parker, welcomed him back by booking studio time and during several marathon sessions; he produced enough material for his Elvis Is Back album and a number of singles which he released during the course of the next year. At the time, his singles were not released as a part of his studio albums. They had a life of their own and the only way to own the music was to purchase these small 7” vinyl 45s.
These early post army recording sessions produced several number one singles. “Stuck On You,” “It’s Now Or Never,” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” all topped the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart during 1960 for a combined 17 weeks. The fourth number one single of his post army career reached the top of the charts 50 years ago this week.
Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote 25 songs for Elvis, but to be honest they stole this one. “Surrender” was taken from a 1902 Italian Neopolitan song named “Come Back To Sorrento.” It was an up-tempo love ballad that reminds me of Spanish bull fighting, complete with castanets. It was straight pop and would look ahead to Elvis’ movement away from rock ‘n’ roll toward a more slick sound. It would top the American charts for two weeks. It was also one of the shorter number one singles in American music history as it clocked in at just less than two minutes.
For better or worse, Elvis’ career would quickly move in a movie star direction, which would combine good material with some not so good. But back in 1961, the sun was shining, “Surrender “was number one, and Elvis ruled the music world.