After I watched Dennis P. Laverty’s new documentary “If I Can Dream: The Influence of Elvis on Bruce” — which makes the case that Elvis is the primal, No. 1 influence on Bruce — I started thinking, is Elvis also the artist Springsteen has covered the most?
He may be, though it’s a hard thing to quantify.
According to the Brucebase web site, the song Springsteen has covered the most is “Twist and Shout” (414 times), followed by “The Detroit Medley” (406 times). And he’s certainly covered a lot of songs by Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Smokey Robinson and John Fogerty. But he’s sung a lot of Presley, too.
I count 15 different Presley songs covered and 14 different Dylan songs (and Springsteen hasn’t performed any Dylan songs as much as he’s done “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Follow That Dream”). So if you came up with a formula that took into account both the number of different songs covered, and the frequency with which they have been performed, Presley very well might be the winner.
So, in honor of The King — who was born 82 years ago, today — here are videos for the 12 Presley songs Springsteen has performed the most, followed by the number of times he has done them (according to Brucebase).
Note: By a “Presley song,” I obviously mean a song strongly associated with him, not a song he wrote, since he wrote virtually none of his hits.
(Aug. 16, 2017 Update: As Paul astutely points out in the Comments Section, below, I missed “Mystery Train,” which has been recorded by many other artists as well, but was an important early single for Elvis. According to Brucebase, Springsteen has covered it 22 times. I have added a video, below, as 5.)
(Aug. 17, 2017 Update: Thanks to Drew for also calling “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” to my attention, in the Comments Section. There were 14 performances, all in the ’70s, according to Brucebase. I have added a video for that, too. I have also changed the numbering since it’s now a Top 12 list.)
1. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (65 times)
2. “Follow That Dream” (50)
3. “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (24)
3 (tie). “Heartbreak Hotel” (24)
5. “Mystery Train” (22)
6. “Love Me Tender” (18)
7. “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” (14)
8. “Burning Love (7)”
9. “Viva Las Vegas” (6).
I believe “Viva Las Vegas” is the only Presley song that Springsteen has recorded in the studio (it appears on the the Last Temptation of Elvis tribute album, as well as Honeymoon in Vegas soundtrack album and The Essential Bruce Springsteen). Here is that version:
10. “Jailhouse Rock” (4)
11. “Blue Suede Shoes” (3), shown after “All Shook Up,” with a guest appearance by Nick Ferraro, The Philly Elvis here.
11 (tie): “Blue Christmas” (3).
Other Presley songs Springsteen has performed include “Suspicious Minds” (2), “Hound Dog” (2), “All Shook Up” (1), “It’s Now or Never” (1) and “Don’t Be Cruel” (1).