One Sided Love Affair is a lesser known track from the King’s early years, and it’s hard to say why. It was released on his first studio produced album simply titled Elvis Presley. My guess as to why it’s not better known is because it was dwarfed by two other huge hits from the same release: the essential rocker Blue Suede Shoes and the heartfelt ballad Blue Moon. Between those two blue songs, it can be easy to overlook One Sided Love Affair altogether, but I think the song deserves to be looked at a bit more closely.
The reason why I selected One Sided Love Affair as the song of the day is because it exhibits a strain of coy sensuality that would find its way into hit pop songs to this very day. That is, if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll notice this song manages to be cutesy-conservative and liberally lusty at the same time. This same formula would be used in some of the most recognizable hit songs in history, such as The Beatles’ I Want to Hold Your Hand.
Here’s the general idea: have a song that suggests sensuality, but never explicitly say anything to support that view. Notice Elvis only mentions kissing and, in the songs weirder moments, hugging. If parents got mad at their teenage daughters for listening to this, the girls could easily say, “But you and mom kiss and hug all the time.” Of course, the music itself suggests something less lukewarm than simple hugs.
Semantics aside, the song’s exceptional for its usage of thuddy piano hooks right out of boogie woogie blues. So many early Elvis hits relied heavily on Carl Perkins/ Chuck Berry style guitar riffs that it’s refreshing to hear a piano as the main instrument. It’s a fun song too because you can tell everyone involved are pushing themselves to play about as fast as they can. Elvis Presley is of course in good form too, taking what is essentially a blues standard and infusing it with playfulness (the hiccups you hear in the verses) and then sings the chorus in a lower range that emulates Dean Martin.
I don’t like it when people say Elvis “created” rock and roll. That’s giving him too much credit, and taking away from the earlier work done by blues musicians. I do however think Elvis Presley should be applauded and praised for his talent of combining disparate styles. With One Sided Love Affair, you can hear aspects of upbeat blues mixed with hillbilly twang and just a slight amount of pop music kitschiness. That makes this one a classic in my book.
*Note: I didn’t make the Youtube video. My thanks to whoever did.
Check out my review of Bob Dylan’s album Street Legal.
What’s your opinion of Elvis Presley’s One Sided Love Affair?