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Heart Of Wood

 

By Bob Pakes
 
 

GI Blues photoshoot Wooden Heart USA publicity stillOkay. So the boy who dared to rock and who was only filmed from the waist up on national television because of his vulgar movements, all of a sudden sang silly German folk songs to stuffed creatures in puppet theatres? What happened???
 
Love it or hate it, WOODEN HEART has certainly left it’s mark on the Presley legacy and nowadays counts as one of his biggest worldwide hits.
 
First we present some photographic information regarding the (in)famous moviescene, and then we take a look at the impact of the single around the world.

 
 
 

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Bob Baker (GI Blues puppeteer)BOB BAKER (1924-2014) was a legendary puppeteer whose puppets have appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, including Star Trek, A Star Is
Born, Bedknobs And Broomsticks, and of course G.I. BLUES.
 
Bob Baker (Puppeteer)
 
In the photo above Bob is standing next to Tulsa in a publicity still for the movie.
 
Below we see the actual puppets that were used in the Wooden Heart scene.

 

Bob Baker GI Blues puppet 3 Bob Baker GI Blues puppet 2 Bob Baker GI Blues puppet 1

 
 
 

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GI Blues Wooden Heart publicity shot 1 GI Blues Wooden Heart publicity shot 2

 
 
 

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USA LPM-2256 G.I. Blues (October 1960) USA LPM-2256 G.I. Blues sticker

G.I. BLUES
(October 1960)

 
When the soundtrack was released in the USA, it featured a red heartshaped sticker announcing the inclusion of WOODEN HEART. Since the original version of the song is in German, called MUSS I DENN (and not Wooden Heart) and only known in German speaking countries, we can assume that RCA had high hopes for the song. After all, until Elvis released a reworked English version on his G.I. Blues album, a song called Wooden Heart did not yet exist.

 
 
 

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Wooden Heart acetate side A Wooden Heart acetate side B

Wooden Heart
ACETATE

 
Here we have a rare two sided acetate.
This 10″ 33 1/3 RPM record contains two versions of the song, one being an instrumental.

 
 
 

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USA Wooden Heart sheet music UK Wooden Heart sheet music

Wooden Heart
SHEET MUSIC

 
On the left we have the US sheet music for Wooden Heart, and on the right we see it’s British equivalent.
 
Sheet music from other countries also exist, including those printed in Australia, South-Africa and Holland/Belgium.

 
 
 

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Germany 1 (January 16, 1961) Germany 47-9340 A

GERMANY
(November 1960)

 
It’s easy to assume Wooden Heart surely must have gone to Number 1 in Germany, but it actually ‘only’ reached the Number 2 spot.
The listing to the left shows the combined sales of both versions of Wooden Heart that were out at that time, the other one being Gus Backus’ cover.
 
Wooden Heart was rushed into German record-stores before a regular cover had been printed. The first edition of the single was presented in the temporary sleeve shown here to the right.

 

Wooden Heart Germany 47-9340 A Wooden Heart Germany 47-9340 BHere we have the more commonly known German sleeve of this single.
 
For clever marketing reasons, the emphasis of the sleeve designer was on the German roots of these two songs.
 
 
 
Below we have an interesting article telling us that Wooden Heart had been banned in certain parts of Germany because of “the corruption of German folk music” and “the threatened displacement of folk music by American pop”.

 

Germany (March 20, 1961)

 

Germany (December 19, 1960) Germany 47-9340-D (1969) ATo the left more proof that Muss I Denn was really riding high in Germany, and it seems obvious that the song would have easily taken the top spot in the German chart if it hadn’t been banned.
 
In 1969 the single was re-released in RCA Germany’s The Golden Era Of Hits series with new cover artwork (to the right).

 
 
 

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UK (April 3, 1961) 1 UK 45-RCA-1226

UNITED KINGDOM
(February 1961)

 
A huge hit in the UK, Wooden Heart was NUMBER 1 for an amazing six weeks.
 
Elvis set a record with Wooden Heart for being the first artist to have three consecutive Number 1 songs in the UK. And only a few months later Surrender would make that a staggering four consecutive Number 1 hits!

 

UK (March 13, 1961) UK (April 3, 1961) 2

 
 
 

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Australia 101022 A  (1961) Australia (April 3, 1961)

AUSTRALIA
(February 1961)

 
Also a huge hit in Australia, Wooden Heart was NUMBER 1 for four weeks.

 

Australia 20442 EP (1967) A Australia 20442 EP (1967) BIn the late 60’s, RCA Down Under released a whole bunch of Elvis Presley EP’s, including this one with Wooden Heart as it’s headliner (in November 1967). Most of these EP’s existed of oddly coupled songs.

 

Australia 101022 (1968)In 1968, when Elvis’ Gold Cadillac toured Australia, some of his Aussie Gold Records were pressed in a limited quantity with gold coloured labels, including Wooden Heart. For more info, please click HERE

 
Gold Caddie Australia Tour

 
 
 

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Holland 1 (March 20, 1961) Belgium (March 30, 1961)

HOLLAND and BELGIUM
(February 1961)

 
NUMBER 1 in both of the Low Countries!
 
Are You Lonesome Tonight was also in the top of both charts around the same time.
 
And on the Holland chart we see the Dutch version of Wooden Heart residing at the Number 7 position.

 
 
 

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71.401 Wooden Heart - G.I. Blues (South Africa 78 rpm) South Africa Wooden Heart sheet music

SOUTH-AFRICA
(1961)
Wooden Heart / G.I. Blues

 
Wooden Heart was released on 78 RPM in South-Africa and reached the NUMBER 1 position.
 
The song even went on to become the African SINGLE OF THE YEAR.
 
To the right we have the South-African sheet music.

 
 
 

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1A-4006 Wooden Heart - Blue Suede Shoes (Argentina 78 rpm) 20-6098 Wooden Heart - Frankfort Special (Philippines 78 rpm)

Two more interesting 78 RPM’s:
 
ARGENTINA
(1961)
Wooden Heart / Blue Suede Shoes

 
 

PHILIPPINES
(1961)
Wooden Heart / Frankfort Special

 
 
 

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Italy 45N 1150 A Italy 45N 1150 B

ITALY
(March 1961)
Wooden Heart / G.I. Blues

 

 
 
 

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Spain 3-10108 A Spain 3-10126 (1)

SPAIN
(1961)
Wooden Heart /
What’s She Really Like

 
As was the case with most singles that were released in Spain, multiple cover-variations are in existence for Wooden Heart. In the early 60’s no less then four different covers were printed for this 45, but somehow RCA Spain managed to avoid having the single released in a cover that actually matched the song or the movie.

 

3-10126 A1 Spain 37-2076 (2) AThe most odd choice for a cover has to be the one on the top left, not just because of the 1956 photo but especially because the songtitles are missing.
The nicest cover would probably be the one on the top right (despite the 1957 photo).
 
To the right we have the COMPACT 33 SINGLE, and this release was available in two (though hardly noticable) cover variations.

 
 
 

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Japan SS-1271 A1 Japan SS-1271 B1

JAPAN
(September 1961)
Wooden Heart /
Pocketful Of Rainbows

 
In December 1960, RCA Japan had released G.I. Blues and Doin’ The Best I Can as a single, which became a Number 1 hit. The full album, released a month later, was also an incredible seller for Elvis. RCA Japan then released Are You Lonesome Tonight, Surrender and I Feel So Bad, before they decided to release Wooden Heart as a single (because of it’s huge success in Europe).

 

Japan SS-1271 B2By the time of it’s release, the Japanese fans already owned the two songs as part of the soundtrack album (that had been on the market for 9 months) and the single failed to make an impression on the Japanese charts.
 
 
Check out the hilarious Japanese translation of the German text:
 
Japan SS-1639 B

 
 
 

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USA 447-0720 A USA 447-0720 B

USA
(November 1964)
Blue Christmas / Wooden Heart

 
Four years after Elvis had recorded it, Wooden Heart was released on single in the USA (as the B-side to an even older song).
The A-side, released to push the sales of Elvis’ classic Christmas Album, topped the unofficial Christmas Singles list in 1964.
 
Credit should go to RCA’s art department for actually putting some creative thought into the very nice artwork of this single.

 

USA (December 5, 1964) 1 USA (December 5, 1964) 2

 

USA 447-0720 Wooden Heart promo 1 USA 447-0720 Wooden Heart promo 2

 
 
 

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USA 447-0650 A USA 447-0650 B

USA
(October 1965)
Puppet On A String / Wooden Heart

 
“If at first you don’t succeed, …”
 
RCA USA tried twice (within one year!) to sell Wooden Heart to the masses, but it was a clear case of too little too late.
On both occasions the song failed to even enter the Hot 100 and it only managed to ‘Bubble Under’.

 
 
 

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Japan SS-1639 A Japan SS-1639 (promo)

JAPAN
(January 1966)
Puppet On A String / Wooden Heart

 
In the wake of the USA release of Puppet On A String / Wooden Heart, RCA Japan also gave this coupling a chance, but just like in the USA the single did not impress the fans.
 
For whatever reason, the photo on the Jap cover differs slightly from the US version.
 
To the right we see an interesting all white labled promo 45.

 
 
 

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France 45.469 New Zealand 4-60244For good measure, here are a few more releases from around the globe:
 
Left we have the single from FRANCE, and to the right we see a pressing from NEW ZEALAND.

 

India 447-0650 Ireland 44-ERC 1226INDIA also released Wooden Heart on 45. And to the right we see the version from IRELAND.

 
 
 

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Wooden Heart TOPStay tuned for more Wooden Heart (What? There is even MORE?? Yes, there is!), soon on Echoes!
 
The chart listings used in this article were all taken from BILLBOARD MAGAZINE.
 
 
 
Elvis Presley in costume for G.I. Blues

 
 
 

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. colonel snow #

    Nice article to read with good research.

    August 28, 2015
  2. Pink&Black #

    Never ceases to amaze me, again a very nice topic. This was indeed a big hit in the low countries. Even my parents who only listened to classical music owned a copy of Wooden Heart.

    August 28, 2015
  3. Alan White #

    Another superb in depth subject, well done Bob.

    August 28, 2015
  4. Mike Windgren #

    Fantastic as always. Was nice to see those little puppets!.

    August 29, 2015

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