The Searcher… Elvis Presley

Whenever I start reading about someone (In this case Elvis Presley) I usually dive deep into them. I’ve watched a few documentaries on youtube and the Comeback Special.

Last week Slightly Charming (I highly recommend checking out her blog) recommended this documentary on Elvis and it is the best one I’ve watched about him. It’s an HBO production with commentary by Priscilla Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Robbie Robertson, and many others.

It is a two-part documentary around 3 hours long both combined. Much like the Peter Guralnick books I’ve been reading it is very even-handed but it doesn’t pull any punches.

Elvis was an interesting person. A poor southern boy who gained fame and fortune quickly and handled it well considering what he was going through until his mother passed away. After that came the Army stint in Germany and from there while his fortune and fame grew his artistic credibility went down. In the mid-sixties, while The Beatles, Dylan, and the Stones dominated the charts…Elvis, a big influence to all three was stuck in a cycle of bad movies and bad soundtracks that he didn’t want to do.

The documentary goes over Colonel Tom Parker his manager, The infamous Memphis Mafia, Las Vegas, and the failed marriage to Priscilla.

The one thing this film does is concentrate on his music and not the parody he turned into at the end of his life. I found myself rooting for him during the 1968 Comeback Special. He had the spark back again and his voice was the Elvis we heard in the fifties. After the dismal movie soundtracks, he made this great comeback special but then it slowly started to go down. There was still good music to come but the end was in sight.

This great documentary is worth the time to check out.

 

 

Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock

I’ve been reading a biography of Elvis and I recently have been watching a documentary about him. My son told me Saturday he was operating the lights for a play in his High School and wanted me to go. Saturday night I go and the play is a musical called…All Shook Up…set in the fifties using Elvis songs. Everywhere I turn there is Elvis.

No telling how many times I’ve heard this song but I really paid attention to it for the first time. Yes, Elvis had a great voice we know that but this voice is untamed and wild. It has a scratchy, driving, and go for your throat voice that he seemed to lose as he got older (well he did find it on the 68 comeback special) and tried to please too many people. This is rock and roll at it’s purest form…

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957 at the time but now it’s not counted as a number 1. I could not understand why it was listed as a #1 record and on the Billboard site, it does not list it as such.

I found this about the change

Billboards latest ruling is based on the fact that the Billboard Hot 100 Chart was first launched on August 4th 1958 and so number one hits counted by other means on differently named charts prior to this date [But still ‘the Billboard chart of the day’] should not be counted.

From Songfacts

This was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who also wrote “Hound Dog,” which became a huge hit when Elvis recorded it. Leiber and Stoller excelled at writing catchy pop songs with elements of blues music. Their songs could be very funny and clever, and often take place in unusual situations. Some of their other hits include “Love Potion #9” and “On Broadway.” Mike Stoller played piano on this track.

This was featured in the Elvis movie of the same name, where Elvis plays a wrongly accused convict who becomes a star when he gets out. The film, which is considered one of the best of his 31 movies, is famous for the scene where Elvis performs this song in an elaborate dance number taking place in prison.

The movie score was the first one that Leiber and Stoller wrote. Stoller recalled to Mojo magazine April 2009: “We flew in to New York from LA, where were living at that time, and we had a hotel suite. We had a piano put in, in case the muse struck us, and Jean Aberbach – he and his brother (Julian) owned Hill & Range Songs and they had to deal with Colonel Parker but created Gladys Music and Elvis Presley Music-handed us a script for a movie. We threw it in the corner with the tourist magazines that you get in hotels. We were having a ball in New York, going to the theatre, going to jazz clubs to hear Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, doing a lot of drinking. On a Saturday morning- we’d been there about a week – Jean knocked on the door and said, in a very Viennese accent, ‘Vell boys, you vill haf my songs for the movie.’ Jerry said, ‘Don’t worry Jean, you’ll have them’ Jean said, ‘I know.’ And he pushed a big chair in front of the door and sat down and said, ‘ I’m going to take a nap and I’m not leaving until you have my songs.’ So we wrote four songs in about five hours and then were free to go out.”

The four songs the duo composed were “Jailhouse Rock,” “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care,” “Treat Me Nice” and “I Want to Be Free.”

The movie got its name from this song. When Leiber and Stoller wrote it, the film was titled Ghost of a Chance. The duo had the script and wrote the song for the scene where inmates put on a show in the prison.

After the song was recorded, it was clear that it was going to be a hit, so the movie was renamed Jailhouse Rock. The single was released in September 1957 and reached #1 on October 21. The film was released on November 8.

The line, “Number 47 said to number 3, You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see,” is a sly reference to prison sex but was not offensive enough to create any controversy over the song.

This was a massive hit. It was #1 on the US pop charts for seven weeks, and also reached #1 on the country and R&B charts. In the UK, it entered the charts at #1, becoming the first song to do so.

“Jailhouse Rock” has one of the most memorable intros in rock history: two guitar chords with snare drum hits. The intro last just six seconds, but the pattern repeats throughout the verses, establishing a firm musical hook that remains the envy of songwriters.

ABC television ran a series of educational cartoons called “Schoolhouse Rock” in the ’70s. Millions of kids learned about grammar, history, and astronomy from them. The title was a play on this song.

Ozzy Osbourne played a heavy metal version in 1987 when he did a tour of prisons.

Sha-Na-Na played this at Woodstock in 1969. Very few of the attendees saw their performance, as they didn’t go on until Monday morning (the event was scheduled to end at midnight on Sunday, but ran long). Jimi Hendrix followed Sha-Na-Na to close out the festival.

January 2005 marked what would have been Elvis Presley’s 70th birthday. In commemoration, Elvis’ record label re-released this in the UK where it went straight to #1, making it the oldest recording ever to top the UK charts. It also became the third single to hit #1 twice in the UK, following “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “My Sweet Lord,” both of which were also posthumous re-releases.

In 2007, Chris Rock performed this on the Movies Rock TV special, where modern pop artists performed classic movie songs. Brown re-created Elvis’ scene from the movie.

The Cramps recorded a version of this on the CD The Last Temptation of Elvis. All profits went to a music therapy charity. >>

On November 4, 1957, this topped both the pop and R&B charts. In an odd twist, the next five positions on both charts were also the same songs: “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers, “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke, “Silhouettes” by the Rays, “Be-Bop Baby” by Ricky Nelson, and “Honeycomb” by Jimmie Rodgers.

This song was covered by the Blues Brothers, and featured at the end of the movie of the same name. The brothers and the band are seen playing this song to their fellow inmates.

Mötley Crüe included a live version recorded at a show in Long Beach, California on their 1987 album Girls, Girls, Girls.

Elvis’ real-life band members DJ Fontana, Scotty Moore and Bill Black played his character’s band in the movie, along with Mike Stoller on piano. 

In the Leiber and Stoller autobiography Hound Dog, written with David Ritz, Leiber explained he was originally supposed to play the role in the movie because the casting director thought he looked more like a piano player than Stoller. When Leiber and Elvis both protested, the man insisted, “All he has to do is run his fingers over the keys. Any fool can do that.” But when the first day of filming started, Leiber came down with a toothache and had to visit the dentist, so Stoller stepped in. Because he wasn’t a member of the Screen Actors Guild, he wasn’t allowed any dialogue throughout the movie. He also had to shave his goatee because it was “a scene stealer.”

Ever wonder how this jail party ends? Possibly with the inmates peacefully returning to their cells, but it could also have a more violent conclusion. In the 10cc song “Rubber Bullets,” a #1 UK hit in 1973, they sing about a similar jailhouse party, but theirs ends with riot police taking action.

Jailhouse Rock

The warden threw a party in the county jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
The band was jumpin’ and the joint began to swing
You should’ve heard them knocked-out jailbirds sing

Let’s rock everybody, let’s rock
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock

Spider Murphy played the tenor saxophone
Little Joe was blowin’ on the slide trombone
The drummer boy from Illinois went crash, boom, bang
The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang

Let’s rock everybody, let’s rock
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock

Number forty-seven said to number three
“You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see
I sure would be delighted with your company
Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me”

Let’s rock everybody, let’s rock
Everybody in the whole cell block 
Was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock

Sad sack was sittin’ on a block of stone
Way over in the corner weepin’ all alone
The warden said, “hey, buddy, don’t you be no square
If you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair”

Let’s rock everybody, let’s rock
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock

Shifty Henry said to Bugs, “For Heaven’s sake
No one’s lookin’ now’s our chance to make a break”
Bugsy turned to Shifty and he said, “Nix, Nix
I want to stick around a while and get my kicks”

Let’s rock everybody, let’s rock
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock

Dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock
Dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock
Dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock
Dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock
Dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock

Buddy Holly and the Crickets – Not Fade Away

Holly recorded this on May 1957 with The Crickets at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, NM. It was written by Charles Hardin and Norman Petty, “Charles Hardin” being Buddy Holly, whose real name was Charles Hardin Holley.

One of my favorite songs that recycle the great Bo Diddley riff.

This song was credited to The Crickets. Until the end of his career, Holly recorded with his group, The Crickets, but he set up a deal with their record company, Decca Records, to release some songs under his name and have others credited to the group. This was credited to The Crickets and released on the Brunswick subsidiary. Songs credited to Buddy Holly came out on Coral Records.

The song was the B side to “Oh Boy.”

From Songfacts

This was one of the first pop songs to feature the “Bo Diddley” sound, a series of beats (da, da, da, da-da da) popularized by Diddley, who used it on his first single, the egotistically named “Bo Diddley.” The signature beat originated in West Africa and was adopted by Diddley in the US, where many artists have used it since. For more, check out the Songfacts on “Bo Diddley”.

The Grateful Dead covered this on their Rockin’ The Rhein album.

Florence and the Machine recorded a new version of the song for the Buddy Holly tribute album Rave On Buddy Holly, which was issued for the 75th anniversary of Holly’s birth. Florence Welch had a transformative moment when her grandmother took her to see the movie The Buddy Holly Story when she was a kid, and Welch was happy to contribute to the tribute, recording the song in New Orleans with local Cajun musicians.

Drummer Jerry Allison played a cardboard box for percussion on this. He’d heard Buddy Knox’ drummer do the same on “Party Doll.”

Not Fade Away

Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop

I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
You’re gonna give your love to me
Bop-bop-bop-bop
I want to love you night and day
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
You know my loving not fade away
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Well you know my loving not fade away
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop

My love bigger than a Cadillac
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
I’ll try to show it when you’re driving me back
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
Your love for me got to be real
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
For you to know just how I feel
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
A love for real not fade away
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop

Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop

I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
You’re gonna give your love to me
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
Love to last more than one day
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
Love is loving and not fade away
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Love is loving and not fade away
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
‘Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop
Bop-bop-bop-bop

Fats – Domino – I’m Walking

I bought some records at a relative’s yard sale when I was really young. Chuck Berry album, Doors LA Woman, and this single. Excellent song with a beat that won’t leave you.

This song was inspired by a comment a fan made to Fats Domino after Domino’s car broke down: “Hey, look at Fats Domino, he’s walking!” Domino then thought to himself, “Yeah, I’m walking,” and wrote the song as he walked.

It peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100 and #19 in the UK in 1957.

 

From Songfacts

Running a tidy 2:05, this song is an example of what Domino strove for: “Happy songs the people could remember.” Anyone who has heard the song can likely repeat the first line, as it clearly sticks in your head: “I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’.”

The song is about a guy who is really lonely now that his girl has left him. He hopes she will return once she sees what it’s like without him.

It’s not a happy sentiment by any means, but the story is secondary in this song, which is driven by the rollicking melody. The title also has nothing to do with the rest of the lyric, but makes a convenient rhyme scheme, since he can also be “talkin’.” When Domino performed it, he often beamed a smile from his piano, unconcerned about the lyrical dissonance.

Domino wrote this song with Dave Bartholomew, a fellow New Orleans musician who did a lot of work arranging and composing songs for Fats.

This is the song that launched the music career of Ricky Nelson, who had 34 Top 40 hits in the US between 1957-1964. Nelson was starred with his real-life parents on the popular TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which ran 1952-1966 on ABC. According to Nelson’s biographer Philip Bashe, Ricky got the urge to record when he was 16 years old and on a date with a girl who told him how much she loved Elvis, prompting Ricky to tell her Elvis wasn’t that special and that he was going to make his own record. After a few years pestering his dad, Ricky convinced Ozzie – who was a popular band leader in the ’30s – to let him record this Fats Domino song, which contained the only two chords he knew how to play. It became a surprise hit, equaling Domino’s #4 chart placing after he performed it on the family TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

The Ricky Nelson version was released just a few months after Domino’s. The original reached #4 US in April 1957, and Nelson’s cover followed in that same chart position in June. It wasn’t the first time a white singer had quickly covered a Domino tune: In 1955, Pat Boone recorded “Ain’t That A Shame” soon after Domino released the song. Boone’s version went to #1, which Domino’s stalled at #10.

Domino recorded for Imperial Records, the label that signed Ricky Nelson after his cover of this song took off. Nelson’s version was released on the Verve label.

The saxophone solo on this song runs 33 seconds, taking up about a quarter of the song. It was played by Herbert Hardesty, who appears on several Fats Domino tracks, including “Ain’t That A Shame.”

Earl Palmer was the drummer on this track – he played on many New Orleans sessions for Domino and also Little Richard. The drum pattern requires some serious dexterity, confounding lesser stickmen who attempt it.

At baseball games, this is often played when a player for the home team draws a walk.

I’m Walkin’

I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me (yes)
I’m lonely as I can be, I’m waitin’ for your company
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me
What ‘ya gonna do when the well runs dry?
You’re gonna run away and hide
I’m gonna run right by your side, for you pretty baby I’ll even die
I’m walkin’, yes indeed, I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me

I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me (yes)
I’m lonely as I can be, I’m waitin’ for your company
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me
What ‘ya gonna do when the well runs dry?
You’re gonna sit right down and cry
What ‘ya gonna do when I say bye-bye?
All you’re gonna do is dry your eye
I’m walkin’, yes indeed, I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me

Elvis Presley – That’s All Right

This is the song that started it all for Elvis. After trying many songs on the same night and not coming up with much, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and Elvis Presley started to play this song and Sam Phillips knew he had recorded something different. Sam didn’t know what to think of the song…or how to classify it. That ni

On June 7, 1954, WHBQ Radio in Memphis became the first station to play this song when their disc jockey Dewey Phillips aired it on his Red, Hot and Blue show the day after Elvis recorded it.

Phillips was a pioneering DJ who played a mix of black and white music that attracted a large and diverse following. Elvis recorded “Blue Moon of Kentucky” the next night and it was the B side to this single.

The song didn’t chart nationally in 1954 but it was re-released in 2004 and peaked at #3 in the UK Charts. Scotty Moore’s solo in this record is fantastic. It’s simple but very effective.

From Songfacts

This was Elvis’ first single, and it came out of his first recording session. Elvis was a 19-year-old truck driver when he came to Sun Records in Memphis to record a song as a gift for his mother. Sun was owned by Sam Phillips, who his assistant, Marion Keiser, knew was looking for a “white man who sounds like a black man.” She alerted her boss to Elvis, and Phillips arranged some sessions with some local session players: bassist Bill Black and guitarist Scotty Moore.

The trio tried a few different songs in various styles, finally hitting the mark when they informally started playing Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s obscure 1946 blues song “That’s All Right,” in a fast, innovative style. Phillips liked what he heard and had them record the song this way. This uptempo Blues variation led some music historians to consider it the first rock song.

Presley told Rolling Stone magazine, “I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw.”

This song was only the second time Elvis and lead guitarist Scotty Moore played together. It was also the first song Elvis played in concert: On July 30, 1954, Elvis opened for Slim Whitman in Memphis’ and performed “That’s All Right, Mama,” “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” and “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’).” >>

According to Scotty Moore, this session wasn’t so smooth. He says Elvis started jumping around, “acting the fool,” which drew the ire of Sam Phillips, who owned the label and recording studio. Phillips made them start over, and it was this second take that was the keeper.

I slipped in the Beatles version in…

That’s Alright Mama

Well, that’s all right, mama
That’s all right for you
That’s all right mama, just anyway you do
Well, that’s all right, that’s all right
That’s all right now mama, anyway you do

Mama she done told me
Papa done told me too
‘Son, that gal your foolin’ with
She ain’t no good for you
But, that’s all right, that’s all right
That’s all right now mama, anyway you do

I’m leaving town, baby
I’m leaving town for sure
Well, then you won’t be bothered with
Me hanging ’round your door
Well, that’s all right, that’s all right
That’s all right now mama, anyway you do

Don Newcomb

Don Newcomb passed away yesterday February 19, 2019. I don’t remember him playing because I’m too young. Being a Dodger fan all of my life I have read about his playing days and him talking to and mentoring the younger players with today’s Dodgers.

He was born on June 14, 1926, and played in the Negro Leagues finally making it to the Major Leagues in 1949 with the Brooklyn Dodgers winning Rookie of the Year. He won a World Series (the only one Brooklyn won) in 1955. He won the Cy Young Award in 1956. He battled alcoholism in the 50s and 60s. He mentored everyone from  Maury Wills, Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Mike Piazza, to current players Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw and manager Dave Roberts.

At 92 he would still come to the ballpark and talk to the Dodgers and opposing players.

Here is a link. http://m.thecourierexpress.com/sports/national/bc-bbn–obit-newcombe-nd-ld-writethru/article_cad2236f-faad-5d8f-ad10-bc430854b7e9.html

The Dodgers released this today. 

 

Yahtzee History

Saturday night we had some guests over and we all played Yahtzee. It was the first time I’d played it since the 1980s at least. I had a good time and looked up the history of the game.

In 1954 a wealthy anonymous Canadian couple, who called it The Yacht Game invented the game to play aboard their yacht. They would invite friends and teach them. In 1956 they went to toy maker Edwin S. Lowe to make some games for their friends as Christmas gifts. Edwin liked the game so much that he wanted to buy the rights to it. The couple sold the rights for the amount of making them a 1000 games.

When Edwin released it on the market it did not do well in it’s first year. The game could not be explained easily in an ad.  It had many nuances and interesting things about it and they can only be understood if the game was actually played.

Finally, Edwin tried a different approach. He started to have Yahtzee parties hoping to spread the news about the game by word of mouth. That started to work and Yahtzee got extremely popular. During Lowe’s ownership alone, over forty million copies of the game were sold in the United States of America as well as around the globe

In 1973  Milton Bradley Company bought the E.S. Lowe Company and in 1984 Hasbro, Inc. acquires the Milton Bradley Company and the game.

The origins of the game came from the  Puerto Rican game Generala and the English games of Poker Dice and Cheerio. Another game, Yap, shows close similarities to Yahtzee.

 

http://www.twoop.com/yahtzee/