Tune of the Day: Love Me Tender
“Love Me Tender”, as sung by Elvis Presley, was adapted from the tune of “Aura Lee” (or “Aura Lea”), a sentimental Civil War ballad with music by George R. Poulton and words by W.W. Fosdick. “Aura Lee” was published in 1861, and later became popular with college glee clubs and barbershop quartets. It was also sung at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
It is said that during the Civil War this song was popular with both Union and Confederate soldiers. It is also said that often during the night, when both armies were camped within earshot of each other and “Aura Lee” was struck up by one side, the other side would join in. Such moments of camaraderie would have them harmonizing together, with thoughts of home and loved ones. However, such musical interludes were all too brief, for all too soon the horrors of war would return to divide them.
In 1956 the song would change its name to “Love Me Tender”, and would be credited to Elvis Presley and Vera Matson. The new lyrics, however, were written by Ken Darby, the American Academy Award and Grammy Award winning composer and conductor. Curiously, when Ken Darby was asked why he credited his wife, Vera Matson, as co-songwriter along with Elvis Presley, he responded, “Because she didn't write it either.”