Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy!
Every year at this time the Goodnight blog highlights the King as ELVIS Week is underway, having begun Thursday in Memphis.
We know Elvis who died on August 16, 1977, did a great number of original songs. But he also recorded material from a wide variety of other artists.
Tonight’s theme is Elvis cover songs.
In researching this week’s feature I found the following in bold on the Graceland website:
There’s an art to covering someone else’s song.
Whether you stick to the original or create an entirely new arrangement, it’s up to you to put your own stamp on it.
Elvis Presley could take any song and make it his own.
Elvis’ catalog included songs written especially for him and a collection of cover songs, and no matter what he sang, he always put that special ‘Elvis’ touch on each and every song.
For example, “My Way.” Frank Sinatra did it first. But who can deny it’s just as much suited to Elvis? Maybe more so.
To repeat, Elvis certainly could take any song and make it his own.
So let’s get started.
Our first tune originated believe it or not way back in the 1920’s, long before it got picked up by some groups in the 1960’s, like Eric Burdon and the Animals.
The immensely popular “Comeback Special.” So popular that Elvis, who was still under movie contracts preventing him from doing live shows, got the desire to perform before the public again.
To the Las Vegas International Hotel Elvis went. Four weeks, two shows a night, Mondays off, for $400,000 in a brand new 2,000-seat showroom.
For awhile Elvis began his shows belting out his very first record, “That’s All Right.” But that would change, and for many years right up until his final concert, after the orchestra played the 2001 Theme, this was always his opener.
“Elvis on Tour” covered Elvis’ 15-city tour in the United States in April 1972. The movie won the 1972 Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary.
If you’ve never seen “Elvis on Tour” get your hands on it and watch. It’s excellent.
Country star Don Gibson was the original artist on our next song in 1957. Ray Charles also released a version in 1962 that appeared on a country album and topped the Billboard Hot 100 (#1), R & B singles (#1), and Adult Contemporary (#1) charts.
This terrific song was a staple in Elvis’ concerts.
Needless to say Elvis’ take was jussssssst a bit different.
Again, remember our theme tonight. Making a song his own.
Photo: LA Times: Nov. 14, 1970: Elvis Presley performs at a sold-out show at the Forum in Inglewood.
Los Angeles Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn reported: In his first local performances in 13 years. Elvis Presley’s two Saturday concerts at the Forum in Inglewood shattered the one-day box office record at the arena and demonstrated once again the dynamic qualities that have made him the nation’s top concert attraction. The $313, 000 gross from the concerts, sponsored by Management III in association with Concert Associates and Concerts West, easily broke the previous single-day record of $238,000 set last year by the Rolling Stones’ two concerts.
What if I was to suggest that Elvis appealed to all ages?
Some would say I was exaggerating. Still others would reply I was crazy.
My parents, if alive today, would disagree with those skeptics.
I recall vividly my father listening to Elvis doing “Welcome to my World” at the Aloha Hawaii concert beamed worldwide and saying, “My goodness, he can really sing that song.”
And Mom loving “The Wonder of You.” “He could sing so pretty.”
Do we even need to bring up Elvis’ success on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart?
Perry Como was about as possible a popular singer there was in the 1940’s and 50’s. In those days, remember we’re talking 60-70 years ago, thanks to a weekly TV show and recordings, Como was earning according to one newspaper article I found, $1.5 million a year.
As the sleepy, serene, nearly lifeless Como was building up a huge audience on weekly television, Elvis suddenly erupted on the scene, ready to move rock and roll to the very top, leaving the safe, nondescript favorites of the teenage parents in a shamble.
Elvis would never have done a Como song. Are you out of your mind?
That was the 50’s.
In 1970 Como went into the studio and sang what turned out to be a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance.
Incredible song. Incredible lyrics.
That peaked at #10 in early 1971.
Elvis must have been impressed.
Ever so reverential to Como, listen as Elvis tenderly played it straight.
From a live dinner show at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, February 16, 1972, for lovers everywhere.
Como would have another big hit a few years later, “And I Love You So.” Elvis did that in concert, too.
The King never forgot his country roots. One of his influences was country star Eddy Arnold. Elvis covered Arnold hits like “Just Call Me Lonesome,” “It’s Over,” “Something Old, Something New,” “How’s the World Treating You,” and this beauty.
Elvis’s cover happened in one of his more than 30 movies, one that was unmercifully drilled as a cinematic disaster.
Maybe I’m too big an Elvis fan, but I didn’t think “Clambake” was all that bad.
Here’s how the story goes. Please follow along.
Our hero plays Scott Heyward, the son of a millionaire, tired of women falling all over him because he’s so loaded. He also sings and is a speedboat racer.
Scott (Elvis) encounters Tom who isn’t wealthy at all. Tom just happens to be on his way to a new job as a water skiing instructor at a hotel.
Ah, Hollywood. How Scott and Tom wish they could be like each other. So they switch places!
We never said this was “Gone With the Wind.”
Scott (Elvis) meets Dianne (Shelley Fabares whom Elvis said was his favorite actress to work with which I don’t believe…Hello, Viva Las Vegas).
Dianne is on the prowl for a guy, but he’s gotta be dripping with money.
She finds playboy James Jamison (played by Bill Bixby, in real life a very dear friend of Elvis). Dianne asks Scott (Elvis) to help her catch Jamison. Scott (Elvis) agrees.
For those who’ve not seen this blockbuster can you figure out what the script says next?
Scott (Elvis) falls for Dianne (Fabares, and why not) but he can’t seem to get through as long as his secret as a pauper is intact.
A dreadful movie? Could definitely make the case it was.
But Elvis nailed Eddy Arnold’s classic, even in a boat repair shop.
Now think about that.
As a speed boat racer, Elvis is portrayed in a totally silly way singing this beautiful love song in a shop he’s working in to prepare a boat for an upcoming race.
And he still pulls it off!
That’s it for this segment.
Have a great weekend.
For the record, nothing wrong at all, hardly, with the originals we spotlighted tonight. They all were more than good enough to influence Elvis.
To close, it’s honesty time.
James Taylor. I was never a big fan. Not exactly an exciting entertainer.
Now I’m a napalm bomb, guaranteed to blow your mind.
What happens when Elvis sings, as he did at his forever famous Aloha Hawaii concert?
Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ boyhood friend and confidante said Elvis trained his guts out for this worldwide broadcast and live recording, like a prize fighter. He swam every day and worked out so he could look his very best.