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Guitar Man

4.6 / 5

Words & Music: Jerry Reed

Well, I quit my job down at the car wash,
Left my mama a goodbye note,
By sundown I'd left Kingston,
With my guitar under my coat,
I hitchhiked all the way down to Memphis,
Got a room at the YMCA,
For the next three weeks I went huntin' them nights,
Just lookin' for a place to play,
Well, I thought my pickin' would set 'em on fire,
But nobody wanted to hire a guitar man.

Well, I nearly 'bout starved to death down in Memphis,
I run outta money and luck,
So I bought me a ride down to Macon, Georgia,
On a overloaded poultry truck,
I thumbed on down to Panama City,
Started pickin' out some o' them all night bars,
Hopin' I could make myself a dollar,
Makin' music on my guitar,
I got the same old story at them all night piers,
There ain't no room around here for a guitar man
We don't need a guitar man, son

So I slept in the hobo jungles,
Roamed a thousand miles of track,
Till I found myself in Mobile Alabama,
At a club they call Big Jack's,
A little four-piece band was jammin',
So I took my guitar and I sat in,
I showed 'em what a band would sound like,
With a swingin' little guitar man.
Show 'em, son

If you ever take a trip down to the ocean,
Find yourself down around Mobile,
Make it on out to a club called Jack's,
If you got a little time to kill,
Just follow that crowd of people,
You'll wind up out on his dance floor,
Diggin' the finest little five-piece group,
Up and down the Gulf of Mexico,
Guess who's leadin' that five-piece band,
Well, wouldn't ya know, it's that swingin' little guitar man.

The TV-special verse:

Well, I came a long way from the carwash,
Got to where I said I'd get
Now that I'm here I know for sure
I really ain't got there yet
Think I'll start all over
Swing my guitar over my back
I'm gonna get myself back on the track
I'll never, never ever look back
I'll never be more than what I am
Wouldn't you know
I' m a swinging little Guitar man

Recordingdate: 1967/09/10, first released on: Clambake (album)


Musicians who contributed to the first recording of Guitar Man:

(steel guitar)


Find available albums with Guitar Man.

Lex wrote on June 02, 2008
The original has always been one of my favs. Hate the remake thou.
rebelpython wrote on September 30, 2008
I just watched the 68 comeback special on youtube and it was AWESOME!!!!!! I've never seen that kind of performance before.
JLpResLey wrote on October 16, 2008
The versions on the TV Special is the best ones to me, even though the studio version also is a fine performance
sitdown68 wrote on October 16, 2008
I prefer the version the late Jerry Reed plays on. During the studio recording Jerry Reed after a time left the studio for confusion about publishing rights or somethting like this. What was the case?
Pedro Nuno wrote on October 16, 2008
Love this song and all its versions (the 1980 Guitar Man album was my 1st Elvis LP! back in 1981). But the long version, the Take 5, with the final Jam/Medley of almost 1 minute of "What I’d say", released in the Platinum Box takes the cake! Simply Superb. A true survival proof from, by then, the almost forgotten King, which was seriously misguided during almost an entire decade. This session was Elvis real comeback!
Matthias Kuenzer wrote on October 16, 2008
I had a cassette with the comeback special in the car for years. I always failed to sing along with Guitar Man. Still do.
Natha wrote on October 16, 2008
A fantastic song which I always liked. Remember the first release quite vividly. As a young lad it stunned me and ever since it is a great favorite of mine. Watching the NBC TV Special back then with this song even made my brother (more of a sixties music fan) realise the superb quality of the King and the for him hidden influence on his fav music.
Steve V wrote on October 16, 2008
An Elvis comeback record of sorts in late 1967. I was very pleased at the time, especially in light of the Clambake LP soundtrack which I thought was horrible. This record and its B side pleased me a lot. Should have charted higher. The remake in 1981 sold more!
bajo wrote on October 16, 2008
Guitar Man is actually one of Elvis' recordings I like all versions of! Great stuff from the late Jerry Reed who took part both in '67 and the rerecordings of the Guitar Man album. Pity the What'd I Say part wasn't included on the original single back then!
Deano1 wrote on February 22, 2010
Recorded in September of 1967 and quickly released as the lead song on the LP "Clambake" in November of that year. After the poor sales of "Double Trouble", Elvis' soundtrack material started rightfully taking a back seat to his studio work. Leading off a sondtrack LP with a non-soundtrack track was an interesting move that didn't help sales. Perhaps the album should have had the four studio tracks on side A along with "You Don't Know Me" (studio version as well) and "The Girl I Never Loved" and put the rest of the soundtrack material on side B.
NONE000000 wrote on August 22, 2010
This song has managed to pretty much blow me away in 3 different versions: The original studio version featuring Jerry Reed, the 68' version with some new lyrics, and the killer 1981 remake which was a big hit for a guy who'd been dead for 4 years at the time (and I was in school getting to hear Elvis on popular not oldies radio for the 1st time.)
TCB1974 wrote on October 22, 2011
A revolutionary recording for Elvis at the time, it sounded so different from his other recordings. This is by far the best of the different Jerry Reed recordings Elvis did and could have been a major hit if his profile as serious recording artist had not been destroyed by some mediocre soundtrack albums in the period '64 - '67. Who didn't love the amazing Trouble/Guitar man opening of the NBC TV Special? Five stars.
freedom101 wrote on October 22, 2011
Classic! Love Elvis' rapid fire vocal delivery and Jerry Reed's rapid fire guitar licks.
Lpool kid wrote on October 22, 2011
great song that due to elvis's recent lean spell of the previous few years didn't get enough air play,probably thought it was just another presley dud.how wrong could they be an absolute classic that should have been another number 1. the start of a very good spell for elvis, 5 stars.
ElvisSacramento wrote on January 11, 2013
This is such a magnificent, fun, electrifying, groovy, and unique song and Elvis' renditions of it were all brilliant. Elvis should've sang this song at some of his concerts too. It's easily one of my most favorite uptempo songs of all time.
GEORGE (GK) wrote on January 11, 2013
I may be in the minority here, but I like the 80s version, the best. Felton Jarvis, did a great job, in bringing back the legendary Jerry Reed, (who orignally wrote and performed the song, that Elvis heard and wanted to record) along with new musicians and backup singers, to re-record the song with Elvis Presley's original vocals. Great driving down the road song, as is "Eastbound and down" another Jerry Reed song.
DerekH wrote on January 11, 2013
The story of Elvis' career in a song. Another contender could be 'Gotta lot of livin to Do'. Am sure there's more. Getting back to GM. Great song at just the right time. Only surprise was its chart placement. Deserved to go much higher.
JerryNodak wrote on January 12, 2013
Prefer the remake over the original. My favorite version is the one heard in the opening production number of the '68 Comeback Special.
kink56 wrote on January 12, 2013
I first heard Guiar Man on a juke box in 1968. There were 3 Elvis singles on it and I played them all. Guitar Man/High Heel Sneakers--Big Boss Man/You Don't Know me and There's Always Me/Judy. Guitar Man really jumped out. I have always loved this song. It, along with the entire side 2 of Clambake redeems this album.
sugartummy wrote on March 07, 2013
Yes, all the versions are great. Who are the other musicians on the Guitar man album from 1981. Only Reed is mentioned.
Gorse wrote on November 11, 2013
Guitar Man and Viva Las Vegas, both 2 fast moving productions did not score big time when first released but both seem to have become cult numbers over the years. I slightly prefer the 1981 release, but the 1968 version, and single release are also very enjoyable. The single version is positively enhanced when the What'd I Say fade is used, and yes the song is tailor made for Elvis.
Lou A wrote on November 12, 2013
One of my all - time favorite Elvis singles , but I like all versions of this song . Great guitar , great song and a fantastic vocal from Elvis, who really puts this story song across. You actually believe he lived the lyrics! I was shocked it didn't make the top 20 or higher during it's initial release , but DJ's weren't playing Elvis' records much during 1967 - at least not in the northeast . It's sad that Elvis never found a way to use this in his live sets.
Cruiser621 wrote on August 11, 2017
Doesn't really ring my chimes but it's an alright tune although way out of place when originally released.
atomic powered poste wrote on March 08, 2018
I love this recording, even if it is a 1:1 copy of reeds original. Excellent guitar work, and elvis himself sounds dann cool. Five stars. Btw., i hate the 1980 lp with the same name, this terrible re-recordings disqualified felton jarvis completely. Crap.
TheMemphisFan wrote on March 08, 2018
I love the January 1981 Lp with the same name. A lot of other people must've felt the same way because the single (RCA PB-12518) of "Guitar Man" (backed with "Faded Love") was a #1 hit on the Country chart.
ntass1 wrote on March 09, 2018
I skip this one. ELVIS sounded good.People were excited that Elvis started recording some real songs,Tomorrow is Long Time, US MALE,other than the sub par songs mostly from 63 -67.awaking for Elvis.
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