Anything about Elvis
More than 30 Million visitors can't be wrong

My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:33 pm

It has become one of the most over-performed, cliched and hackneyed songs over the last four decades, and this is surely because the simple lyrics of My Way mean something different to each different performer, and resonate with anyone who has struggled, fought, love, lost or simply lived. To say that the song has universal appeal is something of an understatement.

Before looking at Presley's versions, we need to place My Way in context. The song wasn't created out of a vacuum; songs about life struggles had been in the popular music songbook for decades, most notably in songs such as Old Man River, written for the 1927 musical Show Boat. And there had always been singers who had taken songs and turned them in to their own personal autobiography. Judy Garland is a prime example. Virtually every song she sings from the capitol era to the end of her life is somehow about Judy Garland herself in some way, from "The Man That Got Away" to "By Myself" to "I'd Like To Hate Myself in the Morning and Raise a Little Hell Tonight," the latter a staple of her final concerts.

But songs such as My Way seem to have been born in many respects through the struggles of the 60s, an era in which individuality and lack of conformity was being championed for the first time since the 1920s. People were fighting for their rights, and their right to be who they wanted to be and what they were born to be through the Civil Rights Movement, the Stonewall riots, and so on. In the mid-60s, a torrent of popular songs centring on individuality and the praise of the self (and praise of the struggling self) began to be performed and recorded. Nina Simone's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" is a good example, and one of many songs she recorded that reflected her own view on life. Eventually, more mainstream performers got in on the act. Sinatra recorded "That's Life", Sammy Davis Jr recorded "I Gotta Be Me", Joe South wrote and recorded "Walk A Mile In My Shoes", and Elvis recorded "If I Can Dream". Even Ella Fitzgerald got in on the act with the little-heard "It's Up To You And Me". And all of this climaxed in many ways with Sinatra's "My Way".

It's easy to forget that My Way didn't start out as anthemic powerhouse ballad but as a majestic, but not pompous, studio recording by Sinatra, recorded in 1968. The song may feature one of Sinatra's most powerful performances, but it ends quietly and not with a big finish. It's also easy to forget that it reached just no. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts on first release. But slowly over the next year or so, Sinatra's song started to snowball, aided and abetted by possibly his best performance of the song on his 1969 TV Special, and a somewhat grander effort on the televised concert from London recorded in November of the following year (1970, not 1971 as mistakenly stated on the youtube video).

phpBB [video]



And this takes us to Elvis's first attempt at the song, recorded in the May 1971 studio sessions. This version comes in for much criticism on these boards and, while it does pale in comparison to the live renditions, we must also remember that Presley's version was still basing itself on the Sinatra studio recording more than anything else. Like Sinatra's version, Presley's is relatively quiet in the verses and somewhat under-stated, and clearly unfinished. Elvis seems unfocussed on the verses, but starts to deliver during the choruses. It lacks the grandeur of his later versions, and it seems like Elvis liked the song but wasn't sure what to do with it.

phpBB [video]



The really big versions of the song were yet to be recorded or released or find their way into the public consciousness. People were still free to interpret the song in any way they saw fit without automatically seeing themselves as doing something special with the song. Nina Simone's stripped back, synchopated version, accompanied by conga drums, was released in 1971 for example. Or Sammy Davis Jr, funky laid-back rendition.

phpBB [video]



phpBB [video]



In other words, by the time Elvis attempted to record the song in the studio in May 1971, there was not yet a right way, to do "My Way".

The key versions from the early 70s in relation to Elvis's versions, I would argue, are those by Dorothy Squires and Tom Jones, both of which helped transform the number from the stately ballad that Sinatra had recorded into a powerhouse, highly emotional showstopper. Jones's versions was recorded in 1971 and released as B-side. Interestingly, Jones's version has a hint of the violin counterpoint in the second verse that Elvis would use in his live rendition. The vocal is superb, and yet it just doesn't seem to work - Jones was a mere 31 at the time of recording; it's akin to watching a 16 year old singing "when I was young, I never needed anyone", the opening lines of All By Myself on American Idol or X factor. I just don't believe the lyrics, at least not in this studio recording.

phpBB [video]



Dorothy Squires' version is typically over the top, almost shouted at points, and perhaps the eccentricities and difficulties that would plague her from around the time of the recording until her death in 1998.

phpBB [video]



One of these versions, or one like it, clearly struck a chord with Presley, for when the song entered his live repertoire the arrangement had changed drastically, his commitment to the song had changed and he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.

What we now call the "aloha" arrangement of My Way is, without doubt, one of the most brilliantly realised orchestral arrangements that Presley used for any ballad in his live repertoire. Through recreated versions of the backing track for singers we can hear, without Presley's vocals, how wonderful this arrangement is, from the stately opening that echoes Elvis's studio rendition, through the second verse with the violin counterpoint to the wonderful harmonies of the later sections of the song. While the change to a triplet rhythmical figure in the final chorus might be a mistake, it works well for Presley, and this change of rhythm might well have been inspired by his own live performances of The Impossible Dream which use a similar figure.

While Aloha was not Presley's finest hour vocally, here he is in total command, with a vulnerable voice in the first couple of verses before letting rip in the choruses - and if any chorus was ever written to be belted out, it was this one. I don't own hundreds of other concerts from the period, but it would be hard to imagine how Presley could top this wonderful rendition in any of them, especially given the fact that he is making the most personal of statements to millions of television viewers during a historic TV first. Here he is saying "I'm at the top, I've had my ups and downs but got (back) here in the end." If "If I Can Dream" was his personal statement in the 68 Comeback Special, then "My Way" was the equivalent here.

phpBB [video]



By 1977, much had changed. In 1973, Elvis was riding the crest of a wave following the hit single Burning Love, the triumphant MSG concerts and the Aloha special. My Way in 1973 was a singer telling us how his triumphs were created his way. In 1977, the same singer was telling us that the mental and physical state that was so obvious to anyone watching was also created his way.

Much had happened to the song since 1973 as well. Sinatra had returned from retirement and the song had gone from the stately 1968 studio performance to the ultimate in grandeur, pomposity and self-praise within Sinatra's live performances that were taking in concert halls and arenas around the world. In The Main Event concert from MSG in 1974, it is introduced as "The National Anthem, but you needn't rise". My Way had taken on a life of its own:

phpBB [video]



Presley's 1977 performances were not ones of self-praise, though, but ones of vulnerability, sadness and bitterness. The wonderful 1973 arrangement was long gone, replaced by a generic, uninspired, rather plodding arrangement that added nothing to the song itself and only served to make sure that every cracked note and frail-sounding vocal was noticed. Many prefer this version to that from Aloha, but to my ears there is no comparison. The only thing that the In Concert version from June 1977 has going for it is pathos. From triumph to sadness in just four short years.

phpBB [video]



Some would argue that Elvis had no place recording or performing the song at all, whereas others have argued on these boards that Presley's versions are at least the equal of Sinatra's. The song appeared in three vastly different arrangements over a period of just six years - a period in which Presley, and the public's view of the song itself, had changed dramatically. Arguments will continue here as to which version is better in Presley's recordings, and whose version is better out of Presley's and the literally hundreds of other covers from Johnny Rotten to Robbie Williams. However, one thing that can't be argued with is Presley's commitment to the song over the years, and the sheer honesty (no matter how sad) of each of his renditions.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:42 pm

I just listened to all 3 studio takes yesterday and was going to pose a question.

There is only one complete take.

Elvis obviously cared about the song, since he performed it on and off for the last 5 years of his life, so why didn't
he work on the studio version more and come up with a releasable master?

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:48 pm

Yes, he obviously cared for it, but I don't think he knew what he wanted to do with it in 1971. He so often liked to have a concrete arrangement by someone else that he liked to play with and base his own on. At that point, he really only had Sinatras. By mid-1972 when it became a regular part of his act, others had started doing in the beefy arrangements that Elvis finally settled on, and so he had something work on at that point. He also wasn't in a great place in the 1971 studio sessions anyway, so working on something that would take time and effort wasn't necessarily what he wanted to do.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:01 pm

poormadpeter wrote:It has become one of the most over-performed, cliched and hackneyed songs over the last four decades, and this is surely because the simple lyrics of My Way mean something different to each different performer, and resonate with anyone who has struggled, fought, love, lost or simply lived. To say that the song has universal appeal is something of an understatement.

Not sure what you mean, but the simple fact is that "My Way" is a highly solipsistic ballad, which is why every egocentric singer on planet Earth to chose to perform or record it. And perhaps why so many embraced it. Of course it was perfect for Frank Sinatra, and unsurprising it swiftly became a "signature" song for him.

To be fair, Elvis' studio recording from 1971 shouldn't be up for any comparison, it was unfinished. His live renditions from 1972 on may be scrutinized, though. Despite the incongruity of Elvis Presley ever singing this tune, it is what it is. A non-fan will read it as "Vegas Elvis" all the way. And they are not wrong.

That said, any appreciation for Elvis and "My Way" would probably fall to the June 1977 recording released posthumously by RCA. Say what you will, but there is deep feeling in this performance -- the penultimate, by the way -- that outstrips his previously-known efforts.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:20 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:It has become one of the most over-performed, cliched and hackneyed songs over the last four decades, and this is surely because the simple lyrics of My Way mean something different to each different performer, and resonate with anyone who has struggled, fought, love, lost or simply lived. To say that the song has universal appeal is something of an understatement.

Not sure what you mean, but the simple fact is that "My Way" is a highly solipsistic ballad, which is why every egocentric singer on planet Earth to chose to perform or record it. And perhaps why so many embraced it. Of course it was perfect for Frank Sinatra, and unsurprising it swiftly became a "signature" song for him.

To be fair, Elvis' studio recording from 1971 shouldn't be up for any comparison, it was unfinished. His live renditions from 1972 on may be scrutinized, though. Despite the incongruity of Elvis Presley ever singing this tune, it is what it is. A non-fan will read it as "Vegas Elvis" all the way. And they are not wrong.

That said, any appreciation for Elvis and "My Way" would probably fall to the June 1977 recording released posthumously by RCA. Say what you will, but there is deep feeling in this performance -- the penultimate, by the way -- that outstrips his previously-known efforts.



My comment that you highlight simply means that the lyrics are open enough to allow anyone to read them and say "this is about me".

I'm not sure why Elvis singing this song is any less appropriate than him singing many other songs in his career. By this point he was heading towards middle-aged, had come from a very poor background, reached superstardom, lost a parent, nearly lost his career, got married, had a kid, salvaged his career and returned bigger than ever and gone through a divorce, before taking part in arguably the biggest TV show to date. I'm not sure why such a song would therefore be "inappropriate" - unless you insisted on Elvis singing nothing but rock n roll and country tunes, and that was never what Elvis was all about, as his early cover of Blue Moon, and his love for Dean Martin and Mario Lanza showed. To suggest My Way as inappropriate would suggest that other "establishment" repertoire such as If I Loved You or True Love would also be inappropriate.
Last edited by poormadpeter on Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:23 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote: That said, any appreciation for Elvis and "My Way" would probably fall to the June 1977 recording released posthumously by RCA. Say what you will, but there is deep feeling in this performance -- the penultimate, by the way -- that outstrips his previously-known efforts.



I have to agree with you, DOC. The October 1977 release of "My Way" (performed in June of 77) will always hold a special place for anyone who was alive when Elvis died. That performance of My Way was solidified by Elvis' committed performance and his passing. There is a definite connection. I remember watching EIC when it first aired on October 3, 1977, and talking with my Dad about how "serious" Elvis seemed when singing "My Way." It was almost a surreal moment. I was at the Spectrum when Elvis sang "My Way" in Philly on May 28, 1977, and while I was thrilled to hear him perform it live, that performance wasn't even close to the sincerity of the 6/21/77 performance.
Personally, I like Elvis' rendition of My Way, even better than any other. That takes nothing away from other wonderful performers and marvelous arrangements. But Elvis' untimely passing, the sincerity of the June 77 performance, makes this, in my mind, a song for him. It was so moving to watch him (posthumously) sing so softly, "to think I did all that." And then realize that October night all that Elvis had accomplished in a relatively short period of time is remarkable.

rlj

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:50 pm

poormadpeter wrote:I'm not sure why Elvis singing this song is any less appropriate than him singing many other songs in his career.

Because at his best, Elvis Presley's music was never maudlin.

As the '70s beckoned, Elvis should have applied himself to better, original material, not shopworn Sinatra covers.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:01 am

thanks for that Peter, great topic.

I love Elvis' version, just 'dig' his voice.
Sinatra generally, for me is bland.......sorry

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:06 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:I'm not sure why Elvis singing this song is any less appropriate than him singing many other songs in his career.

Because at his best, Elvis Presley's music was never maudlin.

As the '70s beckoned, Elvis should have applied himself to better, original material, not shopworn Sinatra covers.


Never maudlin? Have you heard How's The World Treating You or That's When Your Heartaches Begin or Old Shep? One only needs to listen to these numbers (and remember how important the latter two were to Presley), and take note of some of the songs he sang privately (My Heart Cries For You, I Can't Help It, I'm Beginning to Forget You, Danny Boy) to realise that the maudlin was what Elvis had always been attracted by musically. By ignoring this, you are trying to shoehorn Elvis into a pigeonhole that he simply won't squeeze into.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:49 am

If it's maudlin (I like it) then it's Paul Anka's fault, because the original French words (and Italian translation) are not in the same vein.

http://www.lexilogos.com/claude_francois/my_way.htm

Here's Claude François with the original, 'Come d'Habitude' in 1967. He wrote the original lyrics while Jacques Revaux composed the melody.

phpBB [video]



Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d'habitude (As Usual) performed by Claude François, while on holiday in the south of France. He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song. In a 2007 interview, he said: "I thought it was a bad record, but there was something in it." He acquired publishing rights at no cost except the melody's rights kept by the authors and, two years later, had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and "a couple of Mob guys" at which Sinatra said: "I'm quitting the business. I'm sick of it, I'm getting the hell out."
Back in New York, Anka re-wrote the original French song for Sinatra, subtly altering the melodic structure and changing the lyrics:
"At one o'clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, 'If Frank were writing this, what would he say?' And I started, metaphorically, 'And now the end is near.' I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was 'my this' and 'my that'. We were in the 'me generation' and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: 'I ate it up and spit it out.' But that's the way he talked. I used to be around steam rooms with the Rat Pack guys – they liked to talk like Mob guys, even though they would have been scared of their own shadows."
Anka finished the song at 5 am. "I called Frank up in Nevada – he was at Caesar's Palace – and said, 'I've got something really special for you.'" Anka claimed: "When my record company caught wind of it, they were very pissed that I didn't keep it for myself. I said, 'Hey, I can write it, but I'm not the guy to sing it.' It was for Frank, no one else


----


Here's another French song that Elvis did MUCH better , in the form of 'Let it Be Me' :shock:

phpBB [video]

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:17 am

poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:I'm not sure why Elvis singing this song is any less appropriate than him singing many other songs in his career.

Because at his best, Elvis Presley's music was never maudlin.

As the '70s beckoned, Elvis should have applied himself to better, original material, not shopworn Sinatra covers.


Never maudlin? Have you heard How's The World Treating You or That's When Your Heartaches Begin or Old Shep? One only needs to listen to these numbers (and remember how important the latter two were to Presley), and take note of some of the songs he sang privately (My Heart Cries For You, I Can't Help It, I'm Beginning to Forget You, Danny Boy) to realise that the maudlin was what Elvis had always been attracted by musically. By ignoring this, you are trying to shoehorn Elvis into a pigeonhole that he simply won't squeeze into.

Correct: never maudlin.

And, yes, I have heard them. In fact, I have heard them all.

Your second two examples are Elvis at his best, and neither is maudlin.

The home demos aren't a valid entry into the discussion. They were unknown until years after his death.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:22 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:I'm not sure why Elvis singing this song is any less appropriate than him singing many other songs in his career.

Because at his best, Elvis Presley's music was never maudlin.

As the '70s beckoned, Elvis should have applied himself to better, original material, not shopworn Sinatra covers.


Never maudlin? Have you heard How's The World Treating You or That's When Your Heartaches Begin or Old Shep? One only needs to listen to these numbers (and remember how important the latter two were to Presley), and take note of some of the songs he sang privately (My Heart Cries For You, I Can't Help It, I'm Beginning to Forget You, Danny Boy) to realise that the maudlin was what Elvis had always been attracted by musically. By ignoring this, you are trying to shoehorn Elvis into a pigeonhole that he simply won't squeeze into.

Correct: never maudlin.

And, yes, I have heard them. In fact, I have heard them all.

Your second two examples are Elvis at his best, and neither is maudlin.

The home demos aren't a valid entry into the discussion. They were unknown until years after his death.


I'm not sure where that matters. The private home recordings show a part of who Presley was away from the spotlight, and an attraction to the maudlin was very much a part of that.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:26 am

poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Correct: never maudlin.

And, yes, I have heard them. In fact, I have heard them all.

Your second two examples are Elvis at his best, and neither is maudlin.

The home demos aren't a valid entry into the discussion. They were unknown until years after his death.


I'm not sure where that matters. The private home recordings show a part of who Presley was away from the spotlight, and an attraction to the maudlin was very much a part of that.

It matters in that the discussion is about how we should regard Elvis' attraction to "My Way." In the public mind, then as now, his demos are completely unknown.

Again, just because Presley may have had a predilection towards maudlin -- especially in the last few years of his life, when his chronic depression began to overwhelm him -- at his best, Elvis Presley's music was never maudlin.

Covering shopworn Sinatra covers was not a path to artistic nirvana.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:28 am

Very nice essay Peter. I disagree on some particulars though, well part of it's speculation. I wonder if Elvis' changes to the arrangements were not inspiration from other artists but the demands of live performance as opposed to studio. Look at the bombastic ending he gave to "Can't Help Falling on Love" on stage. Bigger, bolder always seems to work best on stage.

On the versions, while I definitely agree that the Aloha version has the better arrangement (that violin is really something), I think the hit '77 version is better because Elvis has more bite in his phrasing. I think it benefits him and the lyrics that he's not careful. And I think the pathos add a lot. This is not only a dying man, it's the sound of a dying man and using these lyrics to justify himself adds immeasurable emotional weight. In fact, I think it undercuts the self-congratulatory aspects of the lyrics. It's actually better for the record that Elvis is struggling to maintain some notes or breaths. It kind of sets up a battle between mind and body. I also like that Elvis upped the tempo a bit. I've never quite embraced the Sinatra record because I'm not one for molasses tempos. There are some songs I like in that vein but many times they're a bit off putting to me. That's just me though.

On whether Elvis should have sang the song, the answer is of course. Not that "My Way" was screaming out for an Elvis cover, but if Elvis thought it spoke to him, covered the particulars of his experience, that he could add something to it, there's no reason he shouldn't have covered it.

The idea of Elvis scoring all these great originals, as opposed to covers, is unrealistic when you consider Elvis' recording schedule and the state of the industry at that time. In the 1970s many top songwriters were recording their own material. Paul Simon in 1970, for example, was not going to give up "Bridge Over Troubled Water" so Elvis could have a hit with it. Carole King was not going to give him "I Feel the Earth Move" the next year. There were some songs that should have made Elvis' way first like "Never Been to Spain" or "Just Can't Help Believin'" but they were in the minority. The vast number of original hits were either composed by the artists or by their producers in specific label oriented deals. Think Gamble, and Huff. Times were very hard, and very different for non-composing acts in the 1970s than they were in the 1950s. Gladys Knight and the Pips for instance, one of the biggest acts of the early decade made their name after leaving Motown and its great house of writers by recording covers. They were mostly previously unsuccessful covers but they weren't new songs. "Midnight Train to Georgia" had already been waxed by the time they got to it. "The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" was originally recorded by Danny Thomas. (Woe to Elvis if he ever mined a Danny Thomas cover.) And their big hit of 1975 was a medley of "The Way We Were" and the Broadway standard "Try To Remember." They resorted to covers frequently and they were hot as a pistol. It was just a different world and there was simply no way a label was going to ask an non-composing artist for 30 songs a year (as RCA did for Elvis in most of the decade) and not get a high number of covers.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:33 am

likethebike wrote:On whether Elvis should have sang the song, the answer is of course. Not that "My Way" was screaming out for an Elvis cover, but if Elvis thought it spoke to him, covered the particulars of his experience, that he could add something to it, there's no reason he shouldn't have covered it.

I can give you several:

1) It's one of Frank Sinatra's "signature" songs
2) It's a highly solipsistic ballad that every egocentric singer on planet Earth chose to perform or record
3) In the public mind it's a piece of "Vegas schlock"
4) Elvis at his best was never maudlin

Otherwise, you're right, there's no reason he shouldn't have covered it.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:46 am

See, I've never seen it as a piece of Vegas Schlock.
I think it echoes Sinatra's life more than it does Elvis', certainly, and is a bit over the top in parts in a LOOK AT ME way, but so are a lot of songs Elvis did (and in the way he delivered them, more importantly).
Why does this one seem to bring out such opposing opinions every time it's mentioned?

At that stage in his life he chose what he wanted to sing and record, or didn't he? Elvis LOVED melodramatic songs he could get his teeth into.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:53 am

My Way has become a rite of passage for any singer hopeful of achieving within a performance the statement that was Frank Sinatra's 1968 recording. It's not maudlin or "Vegas" schlock, doesn't have to be bombastic, nor do the lyrics need to ring entirely true to the singer -- what it is, however, is theatre. And for Elvis, a dramatic platform upon which his heroic vocal sensibilities could be played out fully, heart on sleeve, aspiring and inspirational for singer and audience alike. Songs of this nature may not have been the grassroots of Elvis, but they were very much in his blood. And by 1971, despite his youth, Elvis may have seen within this song the possibilities of unfettered individuality, able to reflect, but gaze forward towards the singer he still aspired to be. At 36, he was almost twenty years younger than Sinatra when he recorded My Way, yet both could be singing of their own lives. Even if Sinatra exerted far more creative and artistic direction and control than Elvis chose to - or was able to - in his own career, Presley still "took the blows," and had his "share of losing." In a sense, My Way may have afforded a catharsis for Elvis -- both creatively and personally. The song said something to him and, in turn, he could say something with this song without entering into the rationale of it being a "message song."

Good opening post poormadpeter.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:05 am

greystoke wrote:It's not maudlin or "Vegas" schlock...

Of course it isn't. :D


phpBB [video]




phpBB [video]




phpBB [video]

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:15 am

Quite why the song is regarded as "Vegas" just because some artists who performed at Vegas were some of those who recorded it is baffling. As I have shown in my opening post, the song was (and still is) recorded by people in all genres of music, and Simone's performance is anything but Vegas, and to my knowledge Sammy Davis never sang the song on stage (although evidence to the contrary is most welcome). Throughout his career never gave a damn where his material came from as long as it spoke to him in some way, and there's nothing wrong with having an open mind and embracing all genres of music.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:44 am

poormadpeter wrote:Quite why the song is regarded as "Vegas" just because some artists who performed at Vegas were some of those who recorded it is baffling.

You're joking, right?

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:53 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:Quite why the song is regarded as "Vegas" just because some artists who performed at Vegas were some of those who recorded it is baffling.

You're joking, right?


Not at all, I have already shown that the appeal of the song spread from easy listening singer to jazz singers to punk singers - and your friend Wikipedia give a big long list of country singer, folk singers, rock singer and heavy metal singers who also regard the song worthy of recording.

Presley said he sang all kinds - it's a pity you can't accept that fact.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:03 am

Does anyone know which version was chosen for inclusion on FTD's "Hits of the 70's"?

I've heard a rumour that an incongruous [and repeated] performance from April 25, 1977 was used by mistake!

Is this true?

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:12 am

Very interesting and informative post pmp... Elvis' January 14, 1973 live recording of My Way has always been my favorite... while I very much enjoy the Rapid City recording.

Regardless of "public's mind", and given the fact that Elvis' following pretty much stands on its own merit (certainly at that time), you could categorize many of Presley's live Vegas performances under that same "Vegas schlock" umbrella if you chose to... including the likes of Let It Be Me, The Wonder of You, American Trilogy, What Now My Love and the list goes on. By 1969 Elvis was a Vegas performer which had an impact on his musical tastes, song choices and arrangements. He wasn't the same entertainer that he was in the 50's... but he recorded and performed some great music in Las Vegas. Thankfully critics aren't the best judge of what's entertaining... critical opinion matters only to the critics themselves... at least from what I've read about Elvis.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:36 am

It is high time that critics and/or scholars took a fresh look at Presley's later period. There has been a tendancy in the past to judge the 70s material against the 50s material which is perhaps natural if you grew up in the 1950s and obviously a fan of that early stage of Presley's career. In 2012, we don't have that kind of baggage. Many of us didn't grow up with 50s Elvis - many on these boards grew up with 70s Elvis or, better still, grew up after Elvis died. That allows younger listeners to hear and view Elvis anew, without the "he gave up the rock n roll I loved for easy listening" grudge that many fans had/have.

It is impossible to look at something without bias if you were directly affected by the music as it came. The Doc (for example) has more than once told the story of how disappointed he was that Promised Land wasn't followed up with a single in a similar vein. And that disappointment is arguably still there. Those that come to Elvis for the first time after he died can see things on a level playing field, for the entire legacy is laid out before them and there is never going to be that feeling of disappointment or grudge as styles come and go within Presley's music, because we know the story and what to expect. And each twist and turn within the recorded legacy can be judged on its own merits. Therefore the easy listening material shouldn't be judged against the rock n roll material, but against similar material by other artists.

Despite what might be suggested on here, there is not, and should not be, a hierarchy of popular music styles. Easy listening isn't better or worse than rock n roll, it is simply different. And sadly certainly people seem unwilling or unable to recognise this. What's more Elvis was singing material associated with Sinatra, Crosby and the like from the very beginning of his career. Blue Moon anyone? True Love? Fever? Hell, he even made a rather good attempt at a Sinatra-style torch song in I Need Somebody To Lean On, a song that the Doc ironically holds in rather high regard from what I remember.

So Elvis wasn't still singing rock n roll music as he approached 40. Tough. He grew up and grew older and wanted to sing other stuff that meant something to him at that point. I see nothing wrong with that as long as he did it well. And he did.

Re: My Way, Presley's Way: An Appreciation

Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:47 am

poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:You're joking, right?


Not at all, I have already shown that the appeal of the song spread from easy listening singer to jazz singers to punk singers ...

Actually, it's just one punk singer, the late Sid Vicious. And you miss that it was explicitly chosen for its ironic intent, not because of the "appeal of the song."

I'm sorry to topple your house of cards, but your invited us in for debate, you get what you get. I mean, my God, taking a stand for ... "My Way"? Please.