July 11: Elvis recorded Mystery Train in 1955

elvis presley 1955


July 11: Elvis recorded Mystery Train in 1955

“Mystery Train” is one of Presley’s most haunting songs, a stark blues number that sounds ancient but was actually first cut only two years before by Memphis blues singer Junior Parker. Presley recorded it with the groove from the flip side of the same Parker single, “Love My Baby,” and Sun producer Phillips’ taut, rubbery echo effect made guitarist Scotty Moore’s every note sound doubled. Presley added a final verse — “Train . . . took my baby, but it never will again” — capped by a celebratory falsetto whoop that transformed a pastoral about death into a song about the power to overcome it.

Train arrive, sixteen coaches long
Train arrive, sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train got my baby and gone

Train train, comin’ ’round, ’round the bend
Train train, comin’ ’round the bend
Well it took my baby, but it never will again (no, not again)

Train train, comin’ down, down the line
Train train, comin’ down the line
Well it’s bringin’ my baby, ’cause she’s mine all, all mine
(She’s mine, all, all mine)

Easily one of Elvis’s best songs.


A-side “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”
Released August 1955
Format 7″ 45 rpm & 10″ 78 rpm record
Recorded July 11, 1955 at
Memphis Recording Service, Memphis, Tennessee
Genre Rockabilly
Length 2:24
Label Sun 223
Writer(s) Junior Parker, Sam Phillips

Elvis Mystery Train

Elvis Presley‘s version of “Mystery Train” was first released on August 20, 1955 as the B-side of “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (Sun 223). Presley’s version would be ranked #77 on Rolling Stone’500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2003. It was again produced by Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, and featured Presley on vocals and rhythm guitar, Scotty Moore on lead guitar, and Bill Black on bass. Moore used a country lead break, and toward the end of the record is an echo of the 1946 “Sixteen Tons” by Merle Travis. For Presley’s version of “Mystery Train”, Scotty Moore also borrowed the guitar riff from Junior Parker’s “Love My Baby” (1953), played by Pat Hare.

Original version by Junior Parker (1953):

The Band (feat. Paul Butterfield) (Last Waltz):

Eric Clapton & Scotty Moore:

Elvis Costello and James Burton do “Mystery Train,” Spectacle Dec. 17, 2008:

– Egil & Hallgeir

2 thoughts on “July 11: Elvis recorded Mystery Train in 1955”

  1. He also recorded a brilliant live version in 1969 paired with “Tiger Man”. It’s on the “Live in Person at the International” lp and features James Burton’s blistering solo. It doesn’t get better than that. I think I will listen to it again.

  2. It’s funny how the credits on Junior Parker’s version read “Parker” but on Elvis’s version read “Parker-Philips”! I have also seen some versions that credit “unknown”, don’t remember now.

    Lloyd Colle did a pretty cool version of it many years ago.

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