Elvis Presley’s ‘Surrender’ and the James Bond Theme Share the Same Melody

The Surprising Connection.

In a surprising revelation, it turns out that Elvis Presley’s iconic song “Surrender” shares a strikingly similar melody with the famous James Bond theme song. While this may sound like a case of musical espionage, there’s more to the story than meets the ear. In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating history behind these two musical classics, explore the connections between them, and shed light on the influence of Italian music on Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley’s “Surrender” and the James Bond Theme: A Musical Connection

Elvis Presley’s “Surrender” is known for its catchy melody, but what’s intriguing is that it incorporates the same sequence of notes as the James Bond theme. Specifically, both compositions share the notes B-C-C#-C. However, before we cry foul, it’s essential to note that “Surrender” predates the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” by a year. Therefore, any resemblance is purely coincidental.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley

Italian Roots: The Origins of “Surrender”

To truly appreciate the connection between these two songs, we need to trace “Surrender” back to its roots. Elvis Presley’s inspiration for “Surrender” came from an old Italian song called “Torna a Surriento.” This Neapolitan song served as the foundation for “Surrender.” Interestingly, Elvis had previously adapted another Neapolitan song, “‘O sole mio,” into his hit “It’s Now Or Never.” Clearly, Italian music had a significant influence on the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The Reluctant Songwriter: Mort Shuman and the Italian Rewrite

Elvis Presley, known for his ability to infuse his own style into various genres, approached his regular songwriting duo, Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, with an unusual request. He wanted them to rewrite “Torna a Surriento” with new lyrics. However, Shuman was less than thrilled with the idea. He was hesitant about making Elvis, whom he referred to as a “redneck,” sound like the renowned Italian actor and singer Mario Lanza.

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Mario Lanza
Mario Lanza

In an unexpected turn of events, Pomus took on the challenge and began crafting the lyrics for the revamped song. To maintain a connection to the original, he chose the title “Surrender,” which phonetically echoed the last word of “Torna a Surriento.” The final version of the song would ultimately bear writing credits from both Shuman and Pomus, along with the original “Torna a Surriento” writer, Ernesto De Curtis.


1. Is it true that Elvis Presley’s “Surrender” and the James Bond theme share the same melody?

Yes, it’s indeed true that Elvis Presley’s “Surrender” and the James Bond theme share a remarkably similar melody. Both compositions incorporate the sequence of notes B-C-C#-C. However, it’s important to note that this similarity is coincidental. “Surrender” was released a year before the debut of the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No.” While the resemblance is uncanny, it’s not a case of plagiarism. Elvis Presley’s song was originally based on the Italian song “Torna a Surriento,” and the shared melody is a fascinating musical twist of fate.

2. What is the significance of “Surrender” predating the James Bond theme?

The fact that “Surrender” predates the James Bond theme by a year is significant in highlighting the independent creation of these two iconic musical pieces. Elvis Presley’s song was recorded in 1960, while “Dr. No,” the first James Bond film featuring the famous theme, was released in 1962. This chronological order underscores that any similarities in the melodies were coincidental and not a result of one song copying the other. It also showcases the creative diversity of that era, with artists drawing inspiration from various sources to craft their unique musical expressions.

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3. What inspired Elvis Presley to create “Surrender”?

Elvis Presley’s inspiration for “Surrender” stemmed from his desire to sing an old Italian song with new lyrics. Specifically, he wanted to reinterpret “Torna a Surriento,” a Neapolitan song. Elvis was known for his ability to infuse his unique style into different genres, and this was a way for him to connect with Italian music. The choice to adapt Italian songs like “Surrender” and “‘O sole mio” into his repertoire highlights his versatility as an artist and his willingness to explore diverse musical influences.

4. Who were the songwriters behind “Surrender”?

The songwriting duo responsible for crafting “Surrender” were Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus. They were renowned for their contributions to Elvis Presley’s catalog, with hits like “Viva Las Vegas,” “Little Sister,” “Kiss Me Quick,” and “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame” to their credit. Despite initial reluctance, they undertook the task of rewriting “Torna a Surriento” at Elvis’s request. Mort Shuman, in particular, had reservations about making Elvis sound like an Italian singer but eventually collaborated with Doc Pomus to create the lyrics for “Surrender.” The final songwriting credits also included the original “Torna a Surriento” writer, Ernesto De Curtis, highlighting the fusion of American and Italian musical influences in this classic.

5. How did Doc Pomus come up with the title “Surrender”?

Doc Pomus came up with the title “Surrender” as part of the songwriting process for the revamped Italian song. To maintain a connection to the original song, “Torna a Surriento,” he needed a title that phonetically echoed the last word of the original title. “Surrender” achieved this, as it sounded similar to “Surriento,” preserving a link to the Neapolitan classic. This clever choice of title not only paid homage to the source material but also added depth and intrigue to the song’s lyrical theme, making it a memorable part of Elvis Presley’s repertoire.

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