From one of pop music's most masterful songwriting teams comes this haunting and intimate love ballad written for the Elvis Presley cinematic vehicle of the same name. Blues and R&B aficionados Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote some of rock & roll and R&B's most enduring standards, from "Hound Dog" and "Kansas City" to "Poison Ivy" and "Charlie Brown." They also wrote a substantial part of Presley's repertoire beyond his cover of "Hound Dog," which had already been a hit for Big Mama Thornton. Presley recorded over 20 of the Brill Building duo's songs. Stoller remembers getting "assignments" from Presley's movie studio: "They started to give us assignments for movies. The first one being Loving You, which I think had been called something like "Lonesome Cowboy" until we submitted the song 'Loving You' and they changed the title." Starting with a dark piano arpeggio from Dudley Brooks, "Loving You" is a dreamy, late-night torch song. Over a pulsing upright bass from Bill Black, a delicately picked guitar from Scotty Moore, and quartet backing vocals from the Jordanaires, Presley's rich, resonant, and supremely confident voice croons a quiet but assertive promise: "I will spend my whole life through/Loving you, just loving you." The second verse seems to reflect a sentiment that Presley was most likely feeling at the time: "If I'm seen with someone new/Don't be blue, don't you be blue/I'll be faithful, I'll be true/Always true, true to you/There is only one for me, and you know who/You know that I'll always be loving you."
According to Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, the second volume of Peter Guralnick's definitive biography of Presley, the singer was living a great deal of the time in Hollywood and being tempted away from the domestic stability he had back at Graceland. The lyrics of "Loving You" come across as a midnight vow, a reassurance to an insecure lover, while acknowledging the fact that there might be "someone new." The song is a short and romantic piece, ideal for a slow dance. Yet there is something ominously dark about the production and arrangement; played at a snail's pace, it is a somewhat exaggerated version of the sort of slow-tempo R&B ballad that the Orioles were known for. It sounds as if -- like a murky recording of a corner doo wop act -- it were recorded in a low-budget backroom studio, as opposed to the Hollywood Radio Recorders facility that was utilized. But the atmosphere is what makes "Loving You" so special, separating it from the pack of similar songs. Indeed, for an example of potential directions the song could take, one need look no further than the soundtrack album on which it was included: Further down the track listing is an unlikely up-tempo rendition of the song that could make total sense on its own, had it not been for the existence of this definitive slow version.