Heartbreak Hotel – John Cale

John Cale brings the drama to his 1975 cover of Heartbreak Hotel which appeared on his fifth solo album Slow Dazzle, with Roxy Music’s Brian Eno on synthesisers and Phil Manzanera on guitar.

Steel guitar player and songwriter Tommy Durden first had the idea for Heartbreak Hotel in 1955 after reading a news report about Alvin Krolik, a painter and criminal whose marriage had failed and who wrote an unpublished autobiography that included the line ‘This is the story of a person who walked a lonely street.’ Krolik’s story was published in news media, and received further publicity after he was shot and killed in an attempted robbery in Texas. The El Paso Times reported Krolik’s death under the headline ‘Story Of Person Who Walked Lonely Street’. Durden took the unfinished song to his friend, high school teacher Mae Boren Axton who told Durden “Everybody in the world has someone who cares. Let’s put a Heartbreak Hotel at the end of this lonely street” and the song was finished within the space of an hour. Later that same year Mae secured a meeting with Elvis and him played a demo of the track. Elvis loved the song, memorised it, and recorded it two months later at his first recording session for RCA. George Harrison, Keith Richards and Robert Plant all later credited Elvis’s version of Heartbreak Hotel as the song that made them want to play rock and roll.

Listen to Cover to Cover on Spotify

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