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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:49 am

poormadpeter wrote:It is high time that critics and/or scholars took a fresh look at Presley's later period...
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.

You've changed your tune from previous posts which in the main tended to deride much of Elvis' 70's work.

What has brought upon this sudden change, pmp?

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:50 am

poormadpeter wrote: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.

Sinatra? No.

It's actually a lot closer to the type of great piano ballads recorded by Charlie Rich, which is one reason "I Need Somebody To Lean On" is such an excellent Presley recording.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:00 am

elvisalisellers wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:It is high time that critics and/or scholars took a fresh look at Presley's later period...
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.

You've changed your tune from previous posts which in the main tended to deride much of Elvis' 70's work.

What has brought upon this sudden change, pmp?


I haven't changed my tune. I firmly believe that Presley's studio recordings in the 70s are, on the whole, a fine body of work. That doesn't mean that I can't see the wood for the trees, and that there aren't some stinkers. Presley could be lazy and uncommitted during the period, but when you look at the 70s masters box you come to realise how good this work is when you pull the best of it altogether. I do struggle with some of the work from May 1971, particularly the Christmas album which I think is dull and listless for the main part. And I also am the first to rip into some of the Jungle Room recordings which could have done with being left in the can.

My gripe with the 70s is actually with the live performances in the final years, which on many occasions were unprofessional, dull, uncommitted and even insulting to the people who had bought tickets.

If there are 70s recordings that I criticise it is certainly not because of their genre, or a feeling that Elvis shouldn't have recorded a particular song. It is, in the main, due to an uncommitted or uncontrolled performance. But I'd be happy to reply to any comments on particularly songs that I have spoken about before that you feel I might have been unfair on.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:00 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote: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.

Sinatra? No.

It's actually a lot closer to the type of great piano ballads recorded by Charlie Rich, which is one reason "I Need Somebody To Lean On" is such an excellent Presley recording.


Errrrr?

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:08 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote: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.

Sinatra? No.
It's actually a lot closer to the type of great piano ballads recorded by Charlie Rich, which is one reason "I Need Somebody To Lean On" is such an excellent Presley recording.

Yet another "excellent recording" that didn't make it onto the groundbreaking release to end all others [yes, even "Hits of the 70's"!].
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:07 am

If anything, I Need Somebody to Lean On bears more than a passing resemblance to the Woody Harris/Mary Holmes song, Was There a Call For Me? It's a reasonably good ballad, of course; certainly well sung, but far removed from Sinatra's best recordings of this nature.

With regards to punk singers who covered My Way, there was more than Sid Vicious alone -- Nina Hagen, for example. Vicious' attempt at irony, however, still succumbs to the lyrical intent of the song and the theatrical aspects I mentioned previously. And that's the basis of what the Pistols were; so, if anything, the irony here is how apt My Way actually was when Vicious took the notion to record this song. Still, My Way, sung by Frank Sinatra, was a greater ode to defiance than anything recorded by The Sex Pistols.

To the discussion at hand, however. Elvis's own performances of the song from 1972, and during Aloha, offer well sung renditions that boast strong musicality and - as mentioned - one of his better arrangements. Latterly, a more simplified approach, at times hastened, or sung with a less accomplished vocal than during Aloha, perhaps digs deeper emotionally -- and that's, largely, because we know of Elvis's plight and problems during his final months. Perhaps he deserved, or even needed a song the stature of My Way to coax more of him and invest within a performance some of the attitude and defiance that made him a great singer AND a great performer. My Way can do that. Because it was, and is, a great song.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:17 am

I’m not a particular fan of this song, I find many of Elvis’ renditions, dare I say … boring, especially from January 1973.

drjohncarpenter wrote: 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 agree totally with John’s opinion and if I were to include the song on any homemade complication Elvis' June 1977 version would unquestionably be the version I’d gravitate toward without a second thought.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:33 am

Julian Grant wrote:I’m not a particular fan of this song, I find many of Elvis’ renditions, dare I say … boring, especially from January 1973.

drjohncarpenter wrote: 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 agree totally with John’s opinion and if I were to include the song on any homemade complication Elvis' June 1977 version would unquestionably be the version I’d gravitate toward without a second thought.

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There are several good renditions from 1977, and ones that come to mind are the april/may versions.
And there is one from Feb. too that is very nice.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:08 am

greystoke wrote:To the discussion at hand, however. Elvis's own performances of the song from 1972, and during Aloha, offer well sung renditions that boast strong musicality and - as mentioned - one of his better arrangements. Latterly, a more simplified approach, at times hastened, or sung with a less accomplished vocal than during Aloha, perhaps digs deeper emotionally -- and that's, largely, because we know of Elvis's plight and problems during his final months. Perhaps he deserved, or even needed a song the stature of My Way to coax more of him and invest within a performance some of the attitude and defiance that made him a great singer AND a great performer. My Way can do that. Because it was, and is, a great song.


Apparently, Elvis identified with the song and really believed in it. This is an endearing quality of Elvis' and we see it time and time again in his choice of songs. He drew on his background, his musical sensibility, and it was part of his genius. He usually made it work. Sometimes we love the songs he feels this way about, and sometimes we hate them. (For example, I love Old Shep and Softly, while others hate them.)

I can't stand the song, My Way. I think the lyric is weak (even embarrassing) and I don't think Paul Anka should be proud of the fact that he penned this "piece" in a matter of hours. It shows. While the theme is a worthy one, the lyric is trite and the rhymes incredibly weak. "Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt I ate it up and spit it out..." :roll:

My Way is the big, sentimental song piano bar singers still perform at the close of a set -- the perfect lounge song, drinks clinking, cigarette smoke swirling -- a sure thing. Elvis definitely pulled it off. But I wish he had just left it for Sinatra.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:25 am

Mary Ann- About Anka's writing the song in a few hours. You can't really hold it against him. In pop music inspiration and spontaneity are more what it's about a lot of times than painstaking craft, although that has a place to. Leiber and Stoller wrote the entire for Jailhouse Rock in an afternoon.

The reason some fans insist on a musical hierarchy is because for many fans rock music is a particular culture and way of life. That culture and way of life out of hand rejects things like Vegas and the previous pop culture. If you read say early Rolling Stone you'll see mainstream entertainers like Bob Hope dismissed as not with it, as a distraction to what's important. The idea is that rock n' roll, and blues and jazz based music, is real in a way that other pop forms including a lot of pop movies are phony and sterile. They believe that music should always challenge cultural norms, pre-conceptions and authority. Vegas is in particular is viewed as a sell out. That Sinatra sang it and the barflies followed is enough to dismiss the song. With these critics, country music, which celebrates tradition and sentimentality is also highly questioned with only the most unorthodox performers (those closest to the rock aesthetic) celebrated. (I'm not saying I adhere to this view but it's why these arguments persist.)

The problem that Elvis' critics have in this regard is that Elvis never viewed rock n' roll that way. Elvis saw rock n' roll as just one of many musical forms, he enjoyed, maybe a little more than folk and Latinate sounds, but not more than blues, country or mainstream pop.

Ironically, in the 1970s Elvis was very close to the rock aesthetic of doing your own thing. With the possible exception of the Christmas album which was a label idea but also included the stunning improv on "Merry Christmas Baby," Elvis did in the studio and on stage pretty much what he liked. Maybe RCA had him in the studio more than he would have liked and quite frankly, considering the structure of the then current marketplace, he should have been, but overall these recordings belonged to Elvis as much as anything he ever did. He needed an editor, which RCA, because of the dollar guarantee on the release of any Elvis material, was not willing to provide. Very often he threw some stuff at the wall to see what would stick. Elvis' occasional commercial struggles on the singles chart can be seen as a reflection of the fact that Elvis was following his fancies rather than chasing the marketplace. The four singles of 1972 for instance could not be more diverse in style and execution. You have a weird kind of folkie/MOR ballad. You have a patriotic barn burner. You have a pure rock n' roll single. And then you have a divorce song. In some ways it's a respect of his fan base in that he trusts them to have as a broad an interests as he did.

On the later 1970s stage shows, I don't know if Elvis was dismissive of the audience. Many of those shows were indeed very poor, however, I don't know if his physical condition was such that he could make that judgement. This is after all a man who had a bizarre whim to try and wipe out Memphis' drug dealers while he himself was higher than a kite. He was not making sound judgements 100 percent of the time, and that may have come out in some of the material and in the live shows.

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:00 am

I prefer the Aloha version. I like the June 77 perfomance too, but they don´t end it all together. Ruins it all.
This song is a very good example of songs/music EP liked in the 70´s.
Those who do not like songs like this one simply do not like EP in the 70`s. Glad I do...

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

Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:59 pm

The first thing that comes to my mind when My Way is connected with Elvis is.
...." I don`t know the words..I have to read it"..I think he tookt it very serious..
this song meant something to him..and he didn`t want to spoil it..