Friday, January 8, 2010

Elvis: Trying To Get To You

Had he lived, Elvis Presley would have celebrated his 75th birthday today, January 8. To honor this auspicious anniversary, we feature Elvis from his December 3, 1968 comeback concert. The NBC-TV special features today’s song, “Trying to Get to You.”

The 1968 special included five sidemen and was a forum to reunite the King with two of his original backing musicians: guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer DJ Fontana. Only bassist Bill Black, who died in 1965, was missing.

Elvis had previously recorded two versions of “Trying to Get To You.” The recordings occurred at Sam Phillips' Sun Records in Memphis in March and July 1955. Elvis played piano on both recordings; however, Phillips erased the piano track from the March 23 version thinking that Elvis’ playing was not up to par. This sparse version was released on the 1999 album “Sunrise,” while the July 11 recording that included his piano parts appeared on his Elvis Presley LP in 1956, as well as the 1976 release of the “The Sun Sessions.”

Thirteen years of performances are noticed on the 1968 version which is lower (in E) than the 1955 recording which was done in the key of F. As far as the 1968 version is concerned, it is more emotional, polished, and has more energy than the earlier release.

I wonder what would have happened if Elvis had lived. What would have been his opinion of the plastic surgery that destroyed Priscilla’s beauty? Would he have embraced, or we he have been embarrassed of, having Michael Jackson as a son-in-law? Finally, how would he have looked? We’ve seen the “Young Elvis” and the “Fat Elvis,” now shows us the “Old Elvis.”

Where Were You When You Found Out Elvis Had Died

When major tragedies strike, we tend remember where we were at the time we heard the news. Can you remember where you were when you heard that Elvis died? I do. I was sitting in traffic on the now defunct/destroyed 6th Street Bridge that linked Chesapeake, Ohio and Huntington, WV.

While traveling from my day job in Ohio to my evening gig, I was listening to WKEE in Huntington. When I heard the news, I bypassed supper and drove immediately to the original studios of WEMM on Hal Greer Boulevard, where I was scheduled to work in an hour. Rushing to the United Press International teletype, I quickly pulled the wire news story. Jim Mann, the afternoon drive announcer, was unaware that Elvis died and had not heard the bells that typically sounded for a major news bulletin such as this. I took him the copy and at his next break, he read it. Upon his finishing the story, I asked for the copy back so that I might keep it as a memento and have it nearly 33 years later.

Notice the errors in this first report.  It has Elvis as 45 when he 
was 42 and it has him dying in the hospital, but not on the can.

Since WEMM had religious programming and only two nightly music shows, I used the evening to play cuts from Elvis’s “How Great Thou Art Album” and various Stamps Quartet LPs. I picked the Stamps as they had backed Elvis during numerous concerts. In addition, I have every wire story about Elvis from that particular evening.

Some say Elvis is alive and well and frequents a Burger King in Kalamazoo, Michigan on a regular basis. I tend, however, to like the explanation given by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie “Men in Black.” Take a listen below.

Happy Elvis' Birthday, but remember, "Elvis has left the building."

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