About the song

Absolutely, let’s delve into the world of G.I. Blues, a vibrant piece from the legendary Elvis Presley. Released in 1960, this song wasn’t just a catchy tune; it served as the vibrant soundtrack to the film of the same name, marking Presley’s third feature film and solidifying his image as the reigning king of Rock and Roll.

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G.I. Blues arrived at a pivotal moment in Presley’s career. Fresh off his stint in the US Army in Germany, the film, and by extension, the song, offered a lighter, more comedic portrayal compared to his earlier, more rebellious persona. This shift was a strategic move by his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who recognized the potential to broaden Presley’s appeal and make him more palatable to a wider audience, particularly families.

The song itself perfectly encapsulates this new direction. G.I. Blues is a delightful blend of rock and roll with a healthy dose of blues and country influences. The opening guitar riff sets a playful mood, reminiscent of a sunny day strolling down a small-town street. Presley’s iconic vocals, however, retain their undeniable charm. His signature smooth baritone weaves seamlessly through the melody, delivering a sense of lighthearted optimism.

Lyrically, G.I. Blues tells the story of a soldier, presumably Presley’s character Tulsa McLean from the film, yearning for civilian life. He sings about his dreams of leaving the army behind and pursuing his passion of running a nightclub. Lines like “Well, I got a brand new flamethrower, that throws nothin’ but heat / But all I really want is a cool milkshakin’ retreat” paint a humorous picture of a soldier longing for the simple pleasures of home.

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The song doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the realities of military life either. G.I. Blues references KP duty (“I’m tired of peeling spuds”) and army regulations (“This dog-faced GI ain’t no millionaire”). However, these challenges are presented with a wink and a smile, highlighting the resilience and lighthearted camaraderie that often exists among soldiers.

G.I. Blues was a resounding success. It topped the Billboard charts for several weeks, further cementing Presley’s place as a musical powerhouse. The song’s enduring popularity lies in its ability to capture a specific cultural moment: the post-war optimism and the yearning for normalcy felt by returning soldiers. Beyond its historical significance, G.I. Blues remains a timeless classic, a testament to Presley’s charisma and the enduring power of a well-crafted song.

Video

Lyrics

“G.I. Blues”
(from “G.I. Blues” soundtrack)

They give us a room
with a view of the beautiful Rhine
They give us a room
with a view of the beautiful Rhine
Gimme a muddy old creek
in Texas any old time

I’ve got those hup, two, three, four
occupation G.I. Blues
From my G.I. hair to the heels of my G.I. shoes
And if I don’t go stateside soon
I’m gonna blow my fuse

We get hasenpfeffer
and black pumpernickel for chow
We get hasenpfeffer
and black pumpernickel for chow
I’d blow my next month’s pay
for a slice of Texas cow

We’d like to be heroes,
but all we do here is march
We’d like to be heroes,
but all we do here is march
And they don’t give the Purple Heart
for a fallen arch

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I’ve got those hup, two, three, four
occupation G.I. Blues
From my G.I. hair to the heels of my G.I. shoes
And if I don’t go stateside soon
I’m gonna blow my fuse

The frauleins are pretty as flowers
But we can’t make a pass
The frauleins are pretty as flowers
But we can’t make a pass
Cause they’re all wearin’ signs saying:
“Keepen sie off the grass”

I’ve got those hup, two, three, four
occupation G.I. Blues
From my G.I. hair to the heels of my G.I. shoes
And if I don’t go stateside soon
I’m gonna blow my fuse