The song is a written story about Elvis Presley
. The words "black velvet" are a multi-faceted reference that can be applied to Elvis in numerous ways. (1) The "Velvet Elvis" phenomenon of his likeness frequently being painted on black velvet
. (2) The soulful and smooth "black" baritone sound of Elvis' voice and the many African American recording artists and singers he emulated to create his special brand of rock n' roll. (3) Black Velvet
was also the brand name of the hair dye Elvis used to give his normally light brown hair its distinctive black sheen.
Black Velvet is described as a "new religion that'll bring you to your knees," a possible reference to the near-religious fervor with which Elvis was regarded by many fans early in his career. The chorus tells of "Black velvet and that little boy's smile/Black velvet with that slow, Southern style", a reference to Elvis' trademark lopsided grin and Southern heritage. The end of the first verse claims that "The boy could sing, knew how to move, everything/Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for [black velvet]", a reference to Elvis' singing, distinctive movements on stage, and charisma.
While the first verse discusses the beginning of Elvis' life - "Mama's dancing with baby on her shoulder" - the second talks about the height of his career - "Mama's baby is in the heart of every schoolgirl; Love Me Tender
leaves 'em crying in the aisles". The bridge references his death - "In a flash he was gone, it happened so soon, what could you do?"