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Only the Strong Survive

4.7 / 5

Words & Music: Kenneth Gamble Leon Huff Jerry Butler

I remember my first love affair
Somehow or another the whole darn thing went wrong
My mamma had some great advice
So I thought I'd put it into words of this song
I can still hear her sayin' it

Boy, Oh, I see you're sittin' out there all alone
Cryin' your eyes out 'cos the woman that you love has gone
Oh, there's gonna be, there's gonna be a whole lot of trouble in your life
Oh, so listen to me get up off your knees 'cos only the strong survive
That's what she said, only the strong survive
Only the strong survive,
Oh you've got to be strong, you'd better hold on
Don't go all around with your head hung down
Well I wouldn't let that little girl
No, I wouldn't let her know that she made me feel like a clown
There's a whole lot a girls lookin' for a good man like you
Oh but you'll never meet 'em if you give up now and say that your life is through
Yes she said: Only the strong survive, only the strong survive,
You've got to be a man, you've got to take a stand

Only the strong survive, only the strong survive,
Oh, you've got to be strong, you'd better hold on
'Cos only the strong survive
Only the strong survive, only the strong survive,
Well, you've got to be a man, you've got to take a stand
Only the strong survive, only the strong survive

Recordingdate: 1969/02/19, first released on: From Elvis in Memphis (album)


Musicians who contributed to the first recording of Only the Strong Survive:



(french horn)
(french horn)

*Orchestra, overdubs


Find available albums with Only the Strong Survive.

Lex wrote on June 05, 2008
This soul classic shows Elvis could get away with anything, if he only wanted to.
JerryNodak wrote on September 21, 2008
It doesn't deviate that much from the Jerry Butler original, but that's okay. He still gives it that "Elvis" touch.
Steve V wrote on November 01, 2008
I love this song - Elvis singing true soul music. Only wish he would have done more soul classics. Love the original also.
mature_elvis_fan75 wrote on November 01, 2008
Great lyrics,Great Powerful Performance,And Yes Soulful,Perfect!
Puer Aeternus wrote on November 29, 2012
This song is absolutely terrific. It was one of my early favorites. I've had the pleasure of speaking to Jerry Butler, who co-wrote the song and brought it to prominence with his version. Mr. Butler is a local Chicago politician. He felt Elvis did a wonderful job with the song. Butler was a great singer in his own right. Just listen to Never Gonna Give You Up and True Love Don't Come Easy. But Elvis took Only the Strong Survive and made it his. From Elvis in Memphis has so many great tracks. This is one I never skip. It's a great exercise in soul music. A genre E could really kill, and I wish he recorded more.
Gorse wrote on March 14, 2013
Yeah as they say he could sing the telephone book and I would buy it. What a voice and this one is the soul version used frequently in the Memphis sessions and is a track right up there with a few others at these sessions.
Jim Davidson wrote on March 09, 2016
The American Sound sessions should have foreshadowed the start of something big. But, it was downhill all the way after that.
Cruiser621 wrote on March 09, 2016
One of the better songs from the Memphis Sessions and there were many, many others from this period worthy of the same 5-stars I give this one. "it was downhill all the way" after these sessions. Unfortunately, if memory serves me right, there was some bad blood between Chips Moran, the producer of these sessions and Elvis' management as to publishing rights; which always seems to be the case. Get something good and Colonel and his crew screw it up. It's a shame. Great song, no if, ands or buts.
Great Dane wrote on March 09, 2016
Love this song and the album of course. 5 stars. Downhill? TTWIS and "Elvis Country" are as good if not even better. And the new Stax reissue comes very close.
atomic powered poste wrote on May 15, 2018
A great song that fits with the adult elvis, and it comes i a sound, that sounded up to date back then. A masterpiece. 5 stars.
bk wrote on May 15, 2018
Simply the best !! Should had been a hit single !!!!
Miknik7077 wrote on September 25, 2020
These are my favorite sessions by Elvis and this song is one of many reasons why. So soulful and you can feel the passion like he was singing about himself. Great song.
Deano1 wrote on September 02, 2021
Good song, great performance from a tremendous LP. The comment about Elvis going downhill all the way after the American studio sessions is absurd and wrong in every aspect.
Milky White Way wrote on September 03, 2021
5 star classic all the way. I only wish they spliced the ending with another take to give it a longer fade out, it seems to fade suddenly IMO. Such a powerful soulful track.
DerekH wrote on February 07, 2023
A gem recording from Elvis, with words that many a boy will relate too. This song and the album is so good even today, never skip this or any track on the full album.
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