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September 21

Elvira: El Viral Song of the 80’s

Elvira became the signature song of the Oak Ridge Boys since their discovery of it in the late 80s. And no, it is not about a woman. It is actually about a side street in Nashville called Elvira Street. More on that backstory later. First, sit back and be entertained by the harmonious singing of this super group.

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As real entertainers, Oak Ridge Boys have good ears on the kind of music that is both wholesome and fun for the whole family. Their spin added the bass vocals of Richard Sterban and that added color to the already quirky song. The upbeat tune and the ORB’s version made Elvira, though a country song, hit spots in Pop Charts. In fact, in an interview with People Magazine, William Lee Golden (baritone part) said the following prior to their Elvira hit:

“Inevitably our music will cross all borders and labels. Someday we’re going to run across something that everybody will like at the same time. When THAT happens, we’ll have made it.”

 Well, he had the tongue of an angel because Elvira did just that.

Now here’s an updated version of the song with Home Free in 2015. What’s remarkable about it is that they did not erase the ORB’s marks. Rather, they only made an enhancement on it and they’ve included ORB in it.

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MORE ABOUT THE SONG:

Written and first recorded by Dallas Frazier and was a regional hit in 1967. Other recordings were made Rodney Crowell and by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (1970). In 1981, the Oak Ridge Boys brought it to fame and soon became their signature song.

As promised, here’s the tale behind the writing of Elvira as told by producer Ray Baker:

“Dallas was a young, good looking kid who had just moved here from California and was working for Ferlin Husky in a gas station that Ferlin owned. We became instant friends and he sang me a few of his songs. I was really impressed and so on the strength of his talent, I started my own publishing company with some borrowed money and a $25 a month office rent in June of 1965. I was definitely out of the High rent district of Nashville’s music row but still just a short drive from suburban Madison, Tennessee. Dallas and I were driving in my car in East Nashville one afternoon and I almost ran a red light at the intersection of Gallatin Road (a main thoroughfare) and a side street called Elvira Street.

I stopped in time and while we were sitting there drinking beer and having a good time, Dallas looked up and noticed the street sign. Immediately he started singing the chorus to what would become the song ‘Elvira.’” (songfacts.com)


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