Songwriter's Corner|

Elvis Presley – promo photo for Jailhouse Rock

“T-R-O-U-B-L-E” is a song written by Jerry Chesnut and recorded by Elvis Presley in 1975. It is not to be confused with the Leiber and Stoller song “Trouble”, that Presley first recorded in 1958.

Jerry Chesnut wrote the song in 1975, taking inspiration from a singer and pianist named Little David Wilkins. He said that, when writing the title, he thought of a woman walking through the door and causing trouble; he added that he spelled out the word “trouble”, then the words “alone” and “looking”, and found that they rhymed when spelled out.

The male narrator is a musician who performs at various nightclubs as his main source of income, especially during late-night hours. During a performance at one particular club, the narrator notices a rather attractive young female entering the club by herself. The narrator concurrently begins to boast about the female’s characteristics and features, and implies a great sense of trouble (hence the song’s hook, “I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E”) that the female could cause as a result, such as bringing her attractiveness to the attention of males that notice or approach her, and subsequently inflicting jealousy among other females with characteristics somewhat less appealing than hers.


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