Lonesome Tonight

Lonesome Tonight

Elvis’s far from first

Roy Turk and Lou Handmant

Roy Turk and Lou Handman wrote “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” in 1926. It had three verses, followed by a spoken bridge. They based the bridge on a line in Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. “You know someone said that the world’s a stage. And each must play a part” refers to “All the world’s a stage” from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

It was recorded several times in 1927—first by Charles Hart on 9 May 1927.

Lonesome Tonight

Blue Barron

In 1950 the Blue Barron Orchestra version reached the Billboard’s top twenty single chart. This version is much closer to the style that Elvis used.

Lonesome Tonight

Al Jolson

Al Jolson also had a hit with it in 1950 and used the spoken bridge. Jolson died the same year.

Lonesome Tonight

Elvis Presley

Are You Lonesome Tonight
cover of Elvis single, “Are You Lonesome Tonight”

Others continued to record it. The song was the favorite of Marie Mott, the wife of Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s manager. Elvis recorded it in April 1960 shortly after his stint in the Army ended. RCA released the song in November 1960 and it was an immediate success in the U.S., topping Billboard’s Pop Singles chart and reaching number three on the R & B chart.  A month after the song’s release, it topped the UK singles chart.

From WikipediaThe success of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” made the song one of Presley’s live staples. He performed it live for the first time on March 25, 1961, at a Bloch Arena benefit in Honolulu for the USS Arizona Memorial, one of his four live performances between his return from the Army and his shift in career focus to acting.

Returning to music in 1968, Presley included the song on his playlist for the  NBC special Elvis and performed it live the following year during his first Las Vegas engagement. A version of the song, recorded on August 26 and documenting Presley altering the words of the narration and laughing through the rest of the bridge, was released in 1980 as part of the Elvis Aaron Presley box set. In 1982, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was a radio hit in the United Kingdom and reached number 25 on the British Singles Chart.Presley included the song in his 1972 documentary, Elvis on Tour,  and the 1977 CBS special, Elvis in Concert. 

Lonesome Tonight

Double Platinum

On March 27, 1992, the RIAA certified “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” double platinum.In 2008 (the 50th anniversary of Billboard’s Hot 100), the song was number 81 on the magazine’s “Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs” list.

For more on the song, see thIe NYT article from January 21, 2014 It has links to several other versions both before and after Elvis’s.

Lonesome Tonight

Military Kool Aid Acid Tests

Military Kool Aid Acid Tests


The popular series Stranger Things may seem like another interesting fictional suggestion that there are secret government secret programs unleash terror upon peaceful law-abiding citizens, but MKULTRA was an actual program.

Army Kool Aid Acid Tests

Military Kool Aid Acid Tests


When it came to drug experimentation, the Feds were no slouches. The CIA program had its secret and illegal MKULTRA program that went on from 1953 to 1964. It tested subjects at over 80 institutions, many of which were fronts funded by the government and filtered to schools, private hospitals and even a jails. (Army Acid Test).

It had existed under previous names such as Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke. One of MKULTA’s goals was to develop a robot-like assassin, a real-life “Manchurian Candidate.”

On one level, the drug program hoped to achieve a simple drug protocol to effortlessly get Soviet spies to “spill their guts.” The means toward that end were typically illegal.

Director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Stansfield M. Turner, wrote a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which that Committee released in 1977. In it Turner wrote that:

…the following types of activities were undertaken:

A. Possible additional cases of drugs being tested on American citizens, without their knowledge.

B. Research was undertaken on surreptitious methods of administering drugs.

C. Some of the persons chosen for experimentation were drug addicts or alcoholics.

D. Research into the development of a knockout or “K” drug was performed in conjunction with research being done to develop pain killers for advanced cancer patients, and tests on such patients were carried out.

E. There is a possibility of an improper payment to a private institution.


When our government needs experimental subjects, an easy pool of “volunteers” would be, of course, our Armed services.

From the looks of things it was an unqualified success as long as the goal was for the soldiers to have some fun and ignore orders. Here is a US Army film of its 1963 experiment. One soldier, James Stanley, sued government afterward saying the drug caused his marriage to fail. In 1987 the Supreme Court ruled against him (Ruling Reopens Wound for Bitter Ex-soldier), but in 1991, Stanley finally succeeded. (U.S. Backs Payment for Soldier in LSD Tests)

Military Kool Aid Acid Tests

Fall in

The CIA destroyed most of the documents relating to the project in 1973.

November 27, 1964: the British did their own experiment as part of research into how the drug might affect military operations. From the Imperial War Museum’s description of the filmed summary: Introductory title places trial in context of recent research to discover chemical agents able to incapacitate enemy forces but with negligible risk of fatal casualties. … One Marine in state of distress is comforted by nurse, while others smile and laugh hysterically, one attempting to cut down a tree with his spade, and another climbing the tree. … After exercise Marines rest in bed in Porton ward … One very distressed Marine is held by duffel coated doctor and scientist, muttering “I am not going to die.”  

Military Kool Aid Acid Tests

Ironic Acid Tests

Military Kool Aid Acid TestsNovember 27, 1965: Ken Kesey began his acid tests. Not documented as such, it may have included the first performance by The Grateful Dead, known as The Warlocks. Held in Soquel, it was a small semi-public event advertised only at the local Hip Pocket underground bookstore.

Military Kool Aid Acid Tests

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving
L-R: PFC Victor R. Sheets; SP4 Jim L. Barstad; and SP4 Clint R. Bath of D Co., 12th Inf Regt., 3rd Bde, 4th Inf Div, enjoy their Thanksgiving Day dinner at LZ St. George. 27 November 69.
Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

Long road into American consciousness

An American military presence in Vietnam began in 1950 under President Truman.

Four days after the assassination of President Kennedy, on Tuesday 26 November 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s new administration reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the Republic of Vietnam.

The American public’s conception of the war did not began until August 1964 when naval attacks by the North Vietnamese was reported and on August 7 the U.S. congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson the power to take whatever actions he saw necessary to defend southeast Asia.

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

Fog of War

In 2003, Sony Pictures Classics released Errol Morris‘s documentary “Fog of War.” In it, Robert McNamara, President Johnson’s Secretary of Defense. admitted that there was no actual second attack.

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

Increased troops/casualties

In any case, as you can see, following the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the American presence in Vietnam, and the resulting casualties, increased dramatically.

1960 Nov 24 900 American troops 5 Americans died
1961 Nov 23 3205 American troops 16  Americans died
1962 Nov 22 11,300 American troops 53  Americans died
1963 Nov 19 16,300 American troops 122  Americans died
1964 Nov 26 23,300 American troops 216  Americans died
1965 Nov 25 184,300 American troops 1,928  Americans died
1966 Nov 24 385,300 American troops 6,350  Americans died
1967 Nov 23 485,600 American troops 11,363  Americans died
1968 Nov 28 536,100 American troops 16,899  Americans died
1969 Nov 27 475,200 American troops 11,780  Americans died
Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

From live turkeys dropped in 1962…

…to fasting in protest in 1969

Thanksgiving in the Vietnam War 1962…live turkeys airdropped. [Thanksgiving and Vietnam 1962]

Thanksgiving in the Vietnam War 1965…from President Johnson to the armed services: Today Americans of all faiths gather in their homes and places of worship and give thanks for the blessings of our great land. [Thanksgiving and Vietnam, 1965]

Thanksgiving in the Vietnam War 1966… Most American servicemen in Vietnam will haveThanksgiving dinners tomorrow starting off with shrimp cocktail and going on through turkey and giblet gravy…. [Thanksgiving and Vietnam, 1966]

Thanksgiving in the Vietnam War 1967…Thanksgiving Day church services in the nation… [Thanksgiving and Vietnam, 1967]

Thanksgiving in the Vietnam War 1968…Some 500,000 pounds of turkey are on the way to mess halls and tents throughout South Vietnam… [Thanksgiving and Vietnam, 1968]

Thanksgiving in the Vietnam War 1969… More than a hundred G.I.’s serving in a field evacuation hospital here boycotted Thanksgiving dinner today…  [Thanksgiving and Vietnam, 1969] [see also]

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

Alice’s Restaurant

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

The day after Thanksgiving 1965, Friday 26 November, Great Barrington police arrested Arlo Guthrie for littering in the nearby town of Stockbridge, MA. The resulting adventure would be immortalized in his song “Alice’s Restaurant,” one of the most influential protest songs of that era.

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

John Lennon

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving

By the mid-60s’ Beatlemania was gone, but individual Beatles still had an impact.

On November 26, 1969,  the day before the American Thanksgiving celebration, John Lennon returned his MBE to the Queen as an act of protest against the Vietnam war.

Your Majesty,

I am returning my Member of the British Empire as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.

With love. John Lennon of Bag

Good Morning Vietnam Happy Thanksgiving