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Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:24 am

Funny that Elvis on the sleeve notes of his first album is as maker of commercial folk music identified. So RCA has no idea why they have paid $40.000 for a new sensation. It makes me smile whenever I read this on the cover.

Surely Folk influenced Elvis less than Country, Blues or Gospel. He was not so familiar in that genre. But it is known that our man liked some folk acts and buys records of Peter, Paul and Mary. He loves their In Concert album. He might have completely missed out on the 60s folk boom without that trio.

His friend Charlie Hodge give him an album of Bob Dylan where he sings covers of the black blues and folk singer Odetta. Elvis was so impressed that he recorded Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time.

Thinking about a missing Album of Elvis singing Folk is not so easy as I have thought. We have some examples on In A Private Moment, Elvis At Home and the Platinum-Album. I am sure such thing on record was a country/folk album. Look on From Elvis In Memphis. This is a country/soul album. There was a plan to include Coat Of Many Colors or I Will Always Love You from Dolly Parton in it.

So what folkish performances come to my mind?

Early Mornin’ Rain – Elvis performed a very nice version of this classic from Gordon Lightfoot after the Aloha From Hawaii concert. This was the closest Elvis came to sounding like Peter, Paul and Mary.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Elvis had tried this cover of Ewan MacColl as a duet. Sadly Elvis speeded up the tempo what gives nothing new to the song. Give the beautiful slow version of Roberta Flack a listen. Wonderful! It was said that the Scottish folk singer MacColl and his daughter Kirsty used to play Elvis’ version when they needed a laugh. But Elvis sings a absolutely great slow version in Birmingham, Alabama in December 1976. Completely with the third verse and a dramatic Vegas-style ending.

500 Miles – It is so great to listen to Elvis and his boys doing this old folk ballad in Graceland. Elvis tries so hard to sound like a genuine bass singer. We all know how much Elvis liked bass-singing.

I Shall Be Released – This are the most tremendous 48 seconds of Elvis in the studio. Two verses of the big Dylan classic.

Blowin’ In The Wind – Elvis sings at home over a prerecorded instrumental track. And he tries very hard to sound like a proper bass singer.

Loving Arms – This is a beautiful haunting cover of Tom Jans. There is a wonderful power and a stunning clarity in Elvis’ voice. Listen to the second verse. Really astonishing! Jans cites Elvis’ cover as one of the highlights in his life.

Until It’s Time For You To Go – A cover of Buffy Sainte Marie. There is an article about the song from writer Charles Shaar Murray in the New Musical Express: »Elvis should have been strangled with the strings used.« But I think Elvis handled the romanticism and of course the fatalism very good. His version remembers me to Can’t Help Falling In Love.

Yes, Elvis music contained precious little pure folk. But with his other music he inspired folk-singers like Roger McGuinn of the Byrds or Phil Ochs.

Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:32 am

When they said folk, they didn't mean that they thought they had a Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger on their hands. They were just looking for a convenient way to describe what was still a new musical tradition.

Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:36 pm

TJ wrote:When they said folk, they didn't mean that they thought they had a Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger on their hands. They were just looking for a convenient way to describe what was still a new musical tradition.


Exactly.

Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:38 pm

Neo-"folk" music of the folk boom, and then contemporary folk would not be what I would consider "pure" folk music. That music IS country, blues, and gospel. What Guralnick calls "vernacular" music. That's "pure."

So, without realizing it, they were on to something. Bob Shelton's headline in 68 said Elvis "brought the pop world from illusion to reality." And reality is people's music. Music that regular people played. The Folk. For lack of a better term.

Elvis loved the Carter Family. They were the real deal.

rjm

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Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:40 pm

rjm wrote:Elvis loved the Carter Family.


So did Johnny Cash. :lol:

Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:41 pm

rjm wrote: ... Bob Shelton's headline in 68 said Elvis "brought the pop world from illusion to reality." ... Elvis loved the Carter Family ...

That is a great headline and I did not know that Elvis loved the Carters. Thanks for that info rjm.

Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:42 pm

Danny boy

Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:45 pm

I Shall Be Released – This are the most tremendous 48 seconds of Elvis in the studio. 

excuse me.....?
nice adlib , yes....but "most tremendous 48 seconds of elvis in the studio".....that statement can't be in no way serious.
even his voice is not in best shape at that piece.
you overrate it way too much.
maybe you meant "I Shall Be Released – This are the most tremendous 48 seconds of Elvis in the studio. ...in that hour"

otherwise...nice post of yours.

Re: Elvis Folk

Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:09 pm

Nice topic. Some additional comments are below.


Winston wrote:His friend Charlie Hodge give him an album of Bob Dylan where he sings covers of the black blues and folk singer Odetta. Elvis was so impressed that he recorded Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time.


I'm pretty sure you mean an Odetta album where she does Dylan songs. Elvis clearly loved this LP, and her arrangement of Dylan’s "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" is the one Presley brought with him to Nashville in May 1966.

Hers was issued on ... RCA:

Image

Odetta Sings Dylan (RCA LPM/LSP 3324, April 3, 1965)

Side 1
1. Baby, I'm in the Mood for You
2. Long Ago, Far Away
3. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
4. Tomorrow is a Long Time
5. Masters of War
6. Walkin' Down the Line

Side 2
1. The Times They Are A-Changin'
2. With God on Our Side
3. Long Time Gone
4. Mr. Tambourine Man
5. Blowin' in the Wind
6. Paths of Victory

Elvis may have found his love for all the above-marked Dylan tracks from this album. But I am curious: where did you learn this Odetta platter was a gift from Hodge?


Winston wrote:Look on From Elvis In Memphis. This is a country/soul album. There was a plan to include Coat Of Many Colors or I Will Always Love You from Dolly Parton in it.


This is impossible, as neither song had even been written at the time of Presley's 1969 sessions.


Winston wrote:Early Mornin’ Rain – Elvis performed a very nice version of this classic from Gordon Lightfoot after the Aloha From Hawaii concert. This was the closest Elvis came to sounding like Peter, Paul and Mary.


I would say 1966's "Beyond The Reef," Elvis singing with Charlie and Red West, is a better match.

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:18 am

matilda wrote: ... you overrate it way too much ...

That is one of my problems with the English language. I mean it was for me a highlight in that session. Not in his career. I am from Germany and I have to learn to write my thoughts in this language. It is not easy. :oops:

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:27 am

drjohncarpenter wrote: ... I'm pretty sure you mean an Odetta album ... where did you learn this Odetta platter was a gift from Hodge ...

Yes I mean that Odetta-album. Sorry! That this was a gift from Charlie Hodge stands in "The rough guide to Elvis". I'm reading that book the last weeks.

drjohncarpenter wrote: ... This is impossible, as neither song had even been written at the time of Presley's 1969 sessions ...

I mean they have planned to record the songs from Parton. Not that this was planned for Elvis' Memphis-Album.

Thanks for the informations doc.

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:13 am

Elvis sings Dylan...god, how i wished!!! Another missed opportunity is Elvis sings the Blues. Maybe i'm wrong, but didn't Elvis once say he'd like to do a blues album?

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:17 am

Outside of Gospel, Elvis didn't seem interested in specific genre focused albums. In the 70s I have thought that Tony Joe White would have been a great fit to pen some tracks for Elvis.

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:37 am

Matthew wrote:Outside of Gospel, Elvis didn't seem interested in specific genre focused albums. In the 70s I have thought that Tony Joe White would have been a great fit to pen some tracks for Elvis.


Well, when they met backstage, White offered to take him on a fishing trip. I would imagine it could have been a very productive journey. Elvis talking, maybe aimlesslesly picking on a guitar. White, with guitar handy, making songs. Something like that.

But, of course, that was impossible.

rjm

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:59 am

I would have loved to have seen a 'Elvis - Folk' album as a follow up to 'Elvis- Country'. It seemed the idea was certainly in mind with some of the 1971 recordings;

- Early Morning Rain
- Don't Think Twice
- Until It's Time For You To Go
- Fools Rush In (no really folk, but would fit on)
- For Lovin' Me
- Help Me Make It Through The Night (Again, not strictly 'folk' but would have fit on'.

I also think 'A Thing Called Love' could have fit on this album with a different arrangement. I think 'Ain't no big thing' may have had a place on the album too had it not been on 'Love Letters'.

Regardless of more folk recordings being done, the released 'Elvis - Now' could have been a hell of a lot stronger (with a more folk feel) with the material available.

Side 1.
1. It's Only Love
2. Help Me Make It Through The Night
3. A Thing Called Love
4. Until It's Time For You To Go
5. Early Morning Rain

Side 2

1. I'm Leavin
2. That's What You Get For Lovin' Me
3. I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
4. Fool Rush In
5. Don't think twice, It's all right

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:49 am

Elvis wasn't an innovator of such projects, unless, an idea was pitched to him he stood up well to it, but off his own back, no.

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 2:26 pm

trouble_jw wrote:I would have loved to have seen a 'Elvis - Folk' album as a follow up to 'Elvis- Country'. It seemed the idea was certainly in mind with some of the 1971 recordings;

- Early Morning Rain
- Don't Think Twice
- Until It's Time For You To Go
- Fools Rush In (no really folk, but would fit on)
- For Lovin' Me
- Help Me Make It Through The Night (Again, not strictly 'folk' but would have fit on'.

I also think 'A Thing Called Love' could have fit on this album with a different arrangement. I think 'Ain't no big thing' may have had a place on the album too had it not been on 'Love Letters'.

Regardless of more folk recordings being done, the released 'Elvis - Now' could have been a hell of a lot stronger (with a more folk feel) with the material available.

Side 1.
1. It's Only Love
2. Help Me Make It Through The Night
3. A Thing Called Love
4. Until It's Time For You To Go
5. Early Morning Rain

Side 2

1. I'm Leavin
2. That's What You Get For Lovin' Me
3. I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
4. Fool Rush In
5. Don't think twice, It's all right


He could have easily also done a remake called "Folk Salad Annie" which would have required almost no lyric changes! :D

"Everybody Called It Folk - bmp-bmp-- Salad"
"Sock A Little Folk Salad To Me"


This great theory could also apply to other songs such as:

Folk Me Tender
When My Blue Moon Turns To Folk Again
Big Love Big Folk Ache
Moody Folk
Santa Bring My Folk Back To Me
Folk Christmas
There Will Be Folk In The Valley
I Don't Care If The Folk Don't Shine
Good Folkin' Tonight
You're A Folkbreaker
Milkcow Folk Boogie
Baby Let's Play Folk
Folkbreak Hotel
Folk Rattle And Roll
Anyway You Folk Me
How's The Folk Treating You
Folk Tall Sally
A Mess Of Folk
Too Much Monkey Folk
Edge Of Folkality
Where Could I Go But To The Folk
Woman Without Folk
I'll Never fall In Folk Again
The Last Folkwell
Blue Eyes Folking In The Rain
How Great Thou Folk
F-O-L-K
If You Folk In Your Sleep

The possibilities are endless to what Elvis Presley could have achieved if only he had given up The "King Of Rock" to be "The King Of Folk" !

::rocks

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:27 pm

F-O-L-K

Hahaaa!!! :D

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:49 pm

Elvis folk eh? I think of tracks like Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Funny How Time Slips Away, Don't Think Twice, I Shall Be Released, Help Me Make It Through The Night, For Lovin' Me, Early Morning Rain, the duet versions of First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Separate Ways, It's A Matter Of Time, Mary In The Morning (undubbed). All stuff like that there!

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:54 pm

matilda wrote:
Winston wrote: I Shall Be Released – This are the most tremendous 48 seconds of Elvis in the studio. 

excuse me.....?
nice adlib , yes....but "most tremendous 48 seconds of elvis in the studio".....that statement can't be in no way serious.


He's spot-on. It's one of the best things Elvis put on tape in a studio in the '70s. It's such a shame a full version was apparently not considered. Felton Jarvis should have found the lyrics and begged him to run it down.

Re: Elvis Folk

Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:31 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
matilda wrote:
Winston wrote: I Shall Be Released – This are the most tremendous 48 seconds of Elvis in the studio. 

excuse me.....?
nice adlib , yes....but "most tremendous 48 seconds of elvis in the studio".....that statement can't be in no way serious.


He's spot-on. It's one of the best things Elvis put on tape in a studio in the '70s. It's such a shame a full version was apparently not considered. Felton Jarvis should have found the lyrics and begged him to run it down.

Hey, they were creating magic with It's Only Love. They had to keep their eye on the ball.

Re: Elvis Folk

Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:09 am

midnightx wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
matilda wrote:
Winston wrote: I Shall Be Released – This are the most tremendous 48 seconds of Elvis in the studio. 

excuse me.....?
nice adlib , yes....but "most tremendous 48 seconds of elvis in the studio".....that statement can't be in no way serious.


He's spot-on. It's one of the best things Elvis put on tape in a studio in the '70s. It's such a shame a full version was apparently not considered. Felton Jarvis should have found the lyrics and begged him to run it down.

Hey, they were creating magic with It's Only Love. They had to keep their eye on the ball.

So magical they couldn't even manage to get that bridge right.

Here's one of my splicing efforts to preserve that bridge as good as possible - pure magic:

It's Only Love (Splice Of Takes 1, 7 & 9).wav (File size: 41MB)
http://www23.zippyshare.com/v/61384081/file.html

Otherwise agreed with "I Shall Be Released". He should have recorded way more Dylan songs.

Re: Elvis Folk

Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:15 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
I would say 1966's "Beyond The Reef," Elvis singing with Charlie and Red West, is a better match.


Errrrr....that sounds nothing like Peter, Paul and Mary.

Meanwhile their version of For Loving Me was clearly the one Elvis used as the basis for his recording, with much of the phrasing simply transplanted onto Presley's version.

phpBB [video]

Re: Elvis Folk

Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:30 am

Elvis' take on "For Lovin' Me" does draw from Peter, Paul & Mary but lyrically he's also leaning heavily on Waylon Jennings:

phpBB [video]



I put together a 1971 folk album a couple of years ago: see here for more details ...

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=58014&hilit=exodus

Re: Elvis Folk

Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:18 am

George Smith wrote:Elvis' take on "For Lovin' Me" does draw from Peter, Paul & Mary but lyrically he's also leaning heavily on Waylon Jennings:

phpBB [video]



I put together a 1971 folk album a couple of years ago: see here for more details ...

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=58014&hilit=exodus


Blimey, not heard that before. Jennings certainly made much better recordings in later years; that one pretty much kills the folkish sound completely - although you are correct, Presley's version seems to use his lyrics.