About the song

Absolutely! Let’s delve into the world of Elvis Presley’s charming ballad, “Wooden Heart”, a song that transcended languages and cultures. Released in 1960, it found its perfect home within the film G.I. Blues, a cinematic exploration of Elvis’ time stationed in Germany during his military service.

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“Wooden Heart” wasn’t entirely an original composition. It drew inspiration from a much older German folk song titled “Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus” (translates to “Must I then, must I then go out to town?”). This melancholic folk tune, originating from the Rems Valley in southwestern Germany, likely emerged sometime in the 18th or 19th century. Its lyrics spoke of a young man leaving his sweetheart behind to venture out into the world.

The transformation of “Muss i denn” into “Wooden Heart” involved several creative minds. Songwriters Fred Wise, Ben Weisman, and Kay Twomey took the core melody and crafted new English lyrics that resonated with the themes of G.I. Blues. Adding another layer of international intrigue, German bandleader Bert Kaempfert also received a songwriting credit, likely for his contributions to the arrangement.

Elvis’ rendition injected a new energy into the ballad. The original German folk song, while undoubtedly filled with emotional depth, carried a more somber tone. “Wooden Heart”, however, took a slightly more optimistic approach. Elvis’ signature smooth vocals delivered a tale of a soldier stationed far from home, cherishing a hand-carved wooden heart gifted by his beloved. The song’s playful rhythm, accentuated by a driving bassline and a touch of country twang in the guitar work, instilled a sense of hopefulness amidst the pangs of separation.

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“Wooden Heart” became a surprising success story. While Elvis was a dominant force in the American music scene, his reach often faltered across the Atlantic. However, the charm and relatability of “Wooden Heart” resonated deeply with British audiences. The song skyrocketed to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart, holding its reign for a remarkable six weeks in 1961. This transatlantic success cemented “Wooden Heart” as a testament to the power of music to transcend language barriers and connect hearts across continents.

The legacy of “Wooden Heart” extends far beyond its chart-topping performance. It serves as a delightful reminder of Elvis’ ability to breathe new life into existing melodies, captivating audiences with his charismatic performances. Furthermore, the song stands as a bridge between American rock and roll and the rich tapestry of European folk music. So, the next time you hear the opening notes of “Wooden Heart”, take a moment to appreciate the unique journey this song has taken, from a centuries-old German folk tune to a beloved Elvis Presley classic.

Video

Lyrics

“Wooden Heart “

Can’t you see
I love you
Please don’t break my heart in two
That’s not hard to do
‘Cause I don’t have a wooden heart
And if you say goodbye
Then I know that I would cry
Maybe I would die
‘Cause I don’t have a wooden heart
There’s no strings upon this love of mine
It was always you from the start
Treat me nice
Treat me good
Treat me like you really should
‘Cause I’m not made of wood
And I don’t have a wooden heart

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Muß i’ denn, muß i’ denn
Zum Städtele hinaus,
Städtele hinaus
Und du mein Schatz bleibst hier

Muß i’ denn, muß i’ denn
Zum Städtele hinaus,
Städtele hinaus
Und du mein Schatz bleibst hier

There’s no strings upon this love of mine
It was always you from the start
Sei mir gut
Sei mir gut
Sei mir wie du wirklich sollst
Wie du wirklich sollst
‘Cause I don’t have a wooden heart