“Where or When” had been such a big it for Elvis, that he wanted to repeat that success. So, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman adapted an Italian melody “Torna a Surriento” (“Come Back to Sorrento”) to an English song that he could sing. “Surrender” was the result. The original was a Neapolitan ballad written by Giambattista and Ernesto de Curtis in 1902.
Both “Where or When” and “Surrender” required Elvis to reach levels of voice that he was not used to. These are almost operatic songs. Listening to “Surrender” you can hear just how strong his voice is. This is a new kind of Elvis that appealed to more than just the young people. This was much more than rock and roll
“Surrender” was the only number one song Elvis had during the year, 1961. It was a full year later, March of 1962 before he had another number one. I don’t think his popularity was slipping, I just think he was too busy doing other things to bother making records. At least pop records. During the recording session in which he recorded “Surrender,” he also recorded most of a gospel album, called His Hand in Mine which was released in late 1960.
He was also making movies. He was in Hawaii filming Blue Hawaii, which was his eighth feature film. By now, he had settled into a routine for his films. The stories were predictable and almost interchangeable. But there was plenty of music and pretty girls and that’s all that mattered to Elvis fans. Elvis was scheduled to make three films a year over the next few years. In 1961, he gave his last live concert for seven years. Colonel Parker, his manager decided to take him off the road, so his fans would be all the more happy to see him when he came back.
“Surrender” is one of his shortest songs, coming in a under two minutes. It debuted on the pop chart on February 20, 1961 at number twenty-four making it the highest debuting song of any song Elvis had done up to that point. It quickly rose to number one where it stayed for two weeks/