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Elvis Presley‘s “Hound Dog” is one of the most important songs in the history of rock ‘n’ roll but it doesn’t exactly have deep lyrics. Frank Sinatra insulted “Hound Dog” onstage while its writers looked on from the audience. Sinatra’s feelings about “Hound Dog” didn’t stop him from recording another tune from the same songwriting duo. Surprisingly, the songwriters weren’t big fans of Elvis’ “Hound Dog” either.

Frank Sinatra insulted Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog’ and other tracks by the same writers

The songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote tunes Elvis recorded, “Hound Dog” being the most famous example. In their 2009 book Hound Dog: The Leiber and Stoller Autobiography, Leiber discussed something Sinatra said onstage. “‘We’d like to do a new song for you,'” he said. “‘I don’t know it very well, but I’ll do the best I can.

“‘It’s a marvelous song written by a couple of kids who, strangely enough, used to write for Elvis Presley and do all those rock things and suddenly they grew older and now they write pretty songs, ballads, you know, not the ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Wolf Dog’ and all those other ‘Mother’s A**’ things they used to do — stupid, goddamn songs,'” Sinatra continued. “‘This, you might say, is reminiscent of a song like ‘September Song.’ Their names are, I think, Ron Leiber and Mike Stoller.'” With that, Sinatra sang Leiber and Stoller’s song “The Girls I Never Kissed.”

What Elvis Presley’s songwriters thought about Frank Sinatra covering their tune

Leiber revealed his opinion of Sinatra covering “The Girls I Never Kissed” onstage. “His voice wasn’t in the best shape,” he said. “He ate a couple of the lyrics.

“But f*** it all — he did the thing,” he added. “And here’s the happy coda: Sinatra finally recorded it with a beautiful string arrangement by Billy May.”


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Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller preferred the 1st version of ‘Hound Dog’ to the hit version

Sinatra wasn’t shy to insult “Hound Dog.” Leiber and Stoller weren’t the biggest fans of the track either or, at least, Elvis’ version of it. “Hound Dog” was first recorded by blues singer Big Mama Thornton. During a 2016 interview with Tablet Magazine, Stoller said he and Leiber loved Thornton’s rendition of the tune. The duo didn’t like Elvis’ cover because they felt it was too different from what they originally wrote. However, after the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll sold over 7 million copies of “Hound Dog,” Leiber and Stoller began to see the upside of his version.

Thornton’s “Hound Dog” is a bluesy number with a piercing vocal. It’s clear that the lyrics are a metaphor for a man who won’t leave her alone. Elvis’ “Hound Dog,” by contrast, is a self-consciously silly tune that sounds like it’s actually about a dog. It’s easy to see why Leiber and Stoller preferred Thornton’s recording even if Elvis’ is far more prominent.

“Hound Dog” is one of Elvis’ best-known tracks even if Sinatra and its writers had issues with it.