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Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:53 am

In September 1962 it seems Elvis Presley met quite a bit with the media while filming MGM's "It Happened At The World's Fair." Many of us are familiar with the lengthy, intimate Lloyd Shearer interview for Parade Magazine, which was captured on tape and released many year later.



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Elvis with MGM co-star Joan O'Brien, on location at the Seattle World's Fair, September 1962



With another interview I just found, for longtime Hollywood scribe Bob Thomas (and syndicated nationally that October), it seems as 1962 rolled on, and Elvis slid comfortably into his expensive, custom-made Sy Devore suits and ties, he slid ever further from caring about his music.

While President John F. Kennedy was privately saving the world from a nuclear confrontation with Russia over secret missile bases in Cuba, here was the King of Rock 'n' Roll, "Kid Galahad" his most recent film, dismissing his current hit single, "Return To Sender."



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Daytona Beach Morning Journal - Wednesday, October 24, 1962



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Elvis Presley, "Return to Sender" (RCA 8100, October 13, 1962)
The single would reach Billboard U.S. Pop #2 on November 17.
It was kept out of the #1 slot for weeks on end by the 4 Seasons release, "Big Girls Don't Cry" (Vee Jay 465).

Image courtesy of the essential Elvis record research database, elvisrecords.us



After Thomas mentions the astonishing fact that "Return to Sender" has sold 600,000 copies in just three weeks, Presley dismisses the achievement. "I just do the numbers and hope somebody likes 'em," he sniffs. Elvis goes on to say the songs he releases on RCA are meaningless after he's signed off on the master takes, and only a couple mean anything to him! "Once a record is released I forget it ... there are only three or four records of mine that I really care about."

Was the grind of recording sub-par soundtracks killing Elvis' musical spirit? Or had he succumbed to Hollywood after two full years back from the army? Either way, this was a significant and very public change from the guy who tore it up in the 1950s, and returned to public life in 1960 with dozens of prime singles and several excellent albums.



620900_in Seattle with Fair's Albert Fisher.JPG
With Seattle World's Fair TV & Movie Department assistant Albert Fisher, on location at the Seattle World's Fair, September 1962



Thomas notes how Elvis has hardly performed in concert in recent times. Even here, his enthusiasm for returning to the stage is meek. "I kind of miss playing before an audience," he says. Yet, such an endeavor, if undertaken, sure will be tough. "If I do go back, it'll mean a lot of work for me. I've forgotten the words to the songs I used to do," he explains to Thomas.

Maybe if Elvis had listened to his records, it would would have been less work.
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:07 am

Interesting, thanks for posting. "Return To Sender" holds a special place for this fan - as it was the song I played over and over as a boy and led to me becoming a Presley fan.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:04 am

Those seem like some unusual comments coming from Elvis...

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:38 am

Perhaps Elvis' attitude reflects is circumstances at the time.

He says he takes a lot of care in recording the songs, but once he's happy with them, he stops listening. This may be because, since he stopped performing live, he didn't need to listen to them any more. He obviously felt those songs were for someone else's pleasure, not his own.

Mind you, we all know stories of Elvis playing his own records at Graceland and other places. His personal record collection did include some of his own recordings.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:41 am

I really don't think he was necessarily feeling this way because of sub-par soundtracks. The quality of the songs at this point were often no worse and no better than those he chose to record in 1963 (with a few notable exceptions) for a non-soundtrack session.

It appears that, following an intensive 1960 in which he had to prove his worth again after the stint in the army, Presley was viewing singing and recording as nothing more than a job. This is, of course, very sad and shows why that non-soundtrack session from 1963 is indeed slick, professional but, on the whole, uninspired (again, with a couple of exceptions). This opens up all kinds of questions about his mental state, was he a depressive, and so on - such a clinical, detached view of something that had previously given him so much pleasure would certainly point towards depressive tendencies, but 50 years on we don't really have the information to make a fair judgement call on that.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:35 am

Matthew wrote:Interesting, thanks for posting. "Return To Sender" holds a special place for this fan - as it was the song I played over and over as a boy and led to me becoming a Presley fan.


Obviously a special song for this fan, too. Despite Elvis' dismissal of the song, it is one of his best rock-a-ballads. The arrangement effectively uses both the Jordanaires and Boots Randolph to great advantage.

It begs the question of how Elvis might have benefited from some stronger material in 1962-63 or perhaps a new producer who might have challenged Elvis to utilize the incredible vocal ability he possessed at this time to create even better recordings than the ones that were actually released during this era. There were a few classics along the way to be sure, but the formulae for both studio and soundtrack albums was certainly starting to wear thin.

A great article...thanks DJC!

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:05 am

Thanks for posting Doc. Pretty interesting. On the outtakes from IHATWF, Elvis is very focused on his work, even on songs like How Would You Like To Be, etc. He's energetic and offers suggestions and his attention span seems good. He's way more attentive than he would sound on Girl Happy outtakes a couple years later.

His dismissive attitude towards his own work is telling and disturbing. To say there are only three or four songs (by 1962) that he cared about is truly sad. He is talking about his 1950's output too. Based on what happened though, this isn't shocking.

Poormadpeter, it is true that these songs aren't much different from the 1963 songs. The truth is though that he chose his non soundtrack songs from a finite group of offerings from the same stable of writers. The Colonel's publishing policy was already severely restricting the quality of material he had to choose from.

Finally, look at Elvis' hand in the photo with Joan O'Brien. It looks like he's getting a little frisky.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:12 am

Great post, DOC!!! Thanks so very much.

Those interviews are interesting and curious as it appears to be a much "different" Elvis, at least in attitude, than the Elvis who entered the army in 1958. Very curious indeed.

rlj

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:33 am

I think it came down to every few years, Elvis need challenges or he would get bored and a little down. This sounds like one of those times. It was a pattern he would maintain the rest of his career.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:15 am

A real eye-opener! Things weren't really that bad yet...wait until 65! Those pics don't even look like the same kid who rocked the world 5 years earlier...

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:24 am

This interview seems to show Elvis giving in and accepting Hollywood's plans for him. We've all read how frustrated he was by the quality of songs for the GI Blues soundtrack. He couldn't have been any more impressed by the songs offered for the films leading up to this interview. That, coupled with the weaker performance of his dramatic efforts, must have made Elvis feel detached from his career and his music. It's not yet woeful in October 1962, but Elvis could clearly see where things were going and we know that his resistance to it would be limited. Perhaps part of the process of "throwing in the towel" was convincing himself that he didn't care. Sometimes we say that we don't give a damn because the opposite is true.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:39 am

A lot of people entertainers get like that but i'm surprised he would be so open about it.
I always thought he liked more of his own recordings than just 3 or 4 so that's what caught me off guard.

Elvis was bored with his music career there wasn't anything left to really achieve.

What he wanted to do was make some serious movies upon his return from the army and conquer Hollywood but the right material wasn't there.

Thank you for posting this Dr.Carpenter this is a good thread.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:35 pm

Thank you very much DOC my friend for Upload this interesting article from SEP 1962
I was surprised too when elvis said that he only cared about 3 or 4 songs of his own...

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:41 pm

Elvis was depressed at that time already. The only thing to uplift his dark mood was returning to live concerts. In March 1961 he did a great concert in Hawaii (not forgetting any words), so after a year and a half he exagerated when he sad he forgot the words of his hits. I think it was only a boredom and a depressed mind to lead him to say things like that. A matter a fact: It was close to do a live performance on the Fair but the Collonel killed the deal (like Jerry Hopkins wrote in his book). And after that, the Colonel wanted for Elvis to do a 43 city tour in the winter of 1962(!?!?) but RCA proposed a reasonable tour with 11 cities and the Colonel turned it down. So if Elvis did these shows maybe he get out of his bad state of mind and would had a balanced movie sets/live concerts/TV shows after that. Remeber that in autumn 1962 there were no Beatles, Stones, Herman's Hermits or other bands from England (the British Invasion).

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 6:58 am

An Elvis tour in late 1962-early 1963 would certainly have been big news and a challenge for Elvis. He was in peak vocal form at this time and had added several hits since his 1961 Hawaii show. Just imagine hearing single hits like "Little Sister" or "Return To Sender" live. In addition, "King of The Whole Wide World" would have been a great showpiece for Elvis and Boots Randolph, perhaps as the opening number.

This tour would have reasserted Elvis' place atop the music world in 1962.

A few other things that could have kept Elvis motivated and at the forefront of the music world in 1963:

(1) A concert at the Seattle World's Fair In 1962 (filmed as a movie and released as "A Happening At The World Fair")

(2) A one-time appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" to sing "Devil In Disguise" and "Memphis".

(3) A fully realized recording of "Memphis" (with an agressive lead guitar solo) released as a single to great acclaim, followed by an LP with strong rock/blues material in 1963.

(4) Taking on the role of Hank Williams in "Your Cheating Heart" and recording the soundtrack at RCA Studio B.

However,no matter how much the music world could have belonged to Elvis in 1962-63, I doubt that he could have done anything to combat the British Invasion. (Although recording an album in London with Sam Phillips as producer and undertaking a European tour in 1964 might have been a start.)

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:07 am

Rtn 2 Sndr wrote:(4) Taking on the role of Hank Williams in "Your Cheating Heart" and recording the soundtrack at RCA Studio B.


Elvis wasn't offered the role just briefly considered for it.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:57 am

Another brilliant photo-media essay, Doc! Thank you so much! I know these are a lot of work, because it's hard just posting a few scans every so often, so this is amazing. You rock!

Now, as to the meat of it. Pete, I think there's no doubt, based on the Shearer interview, that he was depressed.

"Sometimes, I don't know what I'm . . . gonna do next." (If anyone can provide the PRECISE language, please do. This is from memory. I keep a lotta stuff in my head, but there's a limit.) He stammered a bit on this, fearful of his own words, but saying them.

Now, it was 1962: only four years after losing his mother. I know now that it is really not a very long time, and he was quite young - so it's longer (yet more difficult). I would wager that it was, or at least started out as a reactive depression, not necessarily clinical. (Yes, in the fifties, he called himself "the most miserable young man" you'd meet. But that could be situational to his sudden rise to undreamt-of fame.)

I think he got kinda stuck in it, and it transformed into something he couldn't shake, and he turned to much more serious drug use. And treating his art like an ordinary job, which led to the "Elvis-movie-syndrome" situation into which he allowed himself to fall. And he said later that he allowed himself to let it happen. Perhaps a bit too much self-flagellation, but yes, he allowed it.

1962 was a very, very critical year. Which makes this - what follows - beyond ironic - and disturbing.

phpBB [video]



rjm
Last edited by rjm on Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:02 am

Thanks, John, good post and good converstaion-starter.

There were a number of things happening in summer/autumn 1962 which might have put Elvis in a darker place:

a) He'd finally split with Anita Wood and was re-ignting the Priscilla situation.

b) He'd been almost forbidden by the Colonel from recording any non HR songs for the past year and this restriction was certainly detrimental to his art (perhaps this sparked his feelings of indifference).

c) For the first time, he was making two big musicals back-to-back - he'd previously inserted smaller and more challenging films inbetween the glossy travelogues.

d) He'd not performed in front of real people all year - he'd sung live in 1960 and 1961 - and he was surely missing the contact.

It should be said, of course, that many great artists profess indifference to their previous releases - they're only interested in what they're going to do next, and this is not necessarily an unhealthy situation. Elvis, as is well known, much preffered to play down his achievments and talents when speaking publicly and his famous sense of humour does not always come across clearly in print.

He was still on top of the world, still ahead of the game. But when you're at the front of the pack you don't always know where you're going next. If there's no well-trodden path to follow what do you do?

There's an old gag: What do you give the man who has everything? Penicllin. By the end of 1962, EP seemed to be the man who had everything but I suspect that he may have felt very lonely and he did indeed turn to medicines and pills to fill the hole.

In spring 1964 he began a spiritual quest which was commendable and brave but the real missing link was an opportunity to create.

An artist must create. And Elvis was an artist.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:18 am

Very thoughtful reply, George. There were several factors. One thing: I wasn't thinking about the comment, necessarily, about listening to his records, although that plays into it, but what he said, at that time, to Shearer. He WAS in a dark place. There is no doubt whatsoever. This is additional corroboration of that - shows it just wasn't a fleeting mood. The whole tone of that interview is a bit odd: he sounds SO much older that he was. Just down, down, down.

It would be interesting to have audio of the interview printed above.

Thanks very much for your always eloquent thoughts!

rjm

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:27 am

I don't know about Elvis not liking Return to Sender,I read this is the book Elvis, by those who knew him best;

Arlene Coogan; I was visiting Elvis in California when he was finishing up Girls,Girls,Girls.He brought home his knew record, "Return to Sender"(Which was in the movie),and he told us all, "You've got to hear this, listen to the words.I just love this song." And he played it over and over for us.We loved it too,and of course,it went on to be one of his biggest hits.

It has been well documented that Elvis didn't like people playing his own records at his homes,but going from the above quote he seemed proud of this recording.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:37 am

A concert in England must have been memorable in 1962. I was amazed how british fans loved Elvis and because of that he had much more top 10 hits in the 70's in UK than in US (I Just Can't Help Believin', My Boy, American Trilogy). I'm sure even in 1964 Elvis could fill a stadium in England inspite of the Beatles full glory. When I read that Buddy Holly toured England and Australia in 1958 once again I was very sorry for Elvis stagnant career in the movies.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:38 am

George Smith wrote:Thanks, John, good post and good converstaion-starter.

There were a number of things happening in summer/autumn 1962 which might have put Elvis in a darker place:

a) He'd finally split with Anita Wood and was re-ignting the Priscilla situation.

b) He'd been almost forbidden by the Colonel from recording any non HR songs for the past year and this restriction was certainly detrimental to his art (perhaps this sparked his feelings of indifference).
.


I would say no to both of these.

The correct answer would probaby be C.

I think it was lack of new challenges at this point as far as the movies go that was starting to bore Elvis.

Fans are always complaining about Hill & range but Elvis was getting great hit records at this time.

The Girls! Girls! Girls! soundrack aside It's not like Elvis was recording crap and hadn't had a big hit for two or three years.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:14 pm

I don't see anywhere where Elvis dismisses Return to Sender. In fact he names it as one of the few songs he listens to back home because it's good to dance to.

But it's a very interesting interview, and I think George Smith hits the nail on the head.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:00 pm

Well, considering , "Return To Sender", rivaled Elvis' other biggest hit, "Are You Lonesome Tonight", with 2 million in sales for the decade of the 1960's, and despite the fact that Elvis himself said in that 1962 interview recorded on the set of, "Girls, Girls, Girls" that he always picked his own records or the best songs, this thread also gives credence about Elvis' lack of artistic merit for not writing his own material.

I recommended that a few of my musician friends view this forum after I kinda transfered them into Elvis fans, only for them to come back to me and confirm that they said, "See, not only did not write his own stuff, he didn't care about his songs either?" .... UGH

This was not my intention for them to come here and read this and it's so easy for people to take things out of context or fabricate truths, but I just don't think in this case ths thread was a good thing.

I know Doc meant well, but in this case, if someone comes on this board and reads this kind of stuff, it's hard enough to prove to people Elvis' talent and creativity as an artist, but when you post that Elv is didn't care about his own creation/s, it doesn't help his legacy, IMHO.

Re: Elvis --> Slip-Slidin' Away In Hollywood (1962)

Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:52 pm

minkahed wrote:Well, considering , "Return To Sender", rivaled Elvis' other biggest hit, "Are You Lonesome Tonight", with 2 million in sales for the decade of the 1960's, and despite the fact that Elvis himself said in that 1962 interview recorded on the set of, "Girls, Girls, Girls" that he always picked his own records or the best songs, this thread also gives credence about Elvis' lack of artistic merit for not writing his own material.

I recommended that a few of my musician friends view this forum after I kinda transfered them into Elvis fans, only for them to come back to me and confirm that they said, "See, not only did not write his own stuff, he didn't care about his songs either?" .... UGH

This was not my intention for them to come here and read this and it's so easy for people to take things out of context or fabricate truths, but I just don't think in this case ths thread was a good thing.

I know Doc meant well, but in this case, if someone comes on this board and reads this kind of stuff, it's hard enough to prove to people Elvis' talent and creativity as an artist, but when you post that Elv is didn't care about his own creation/s, it doesn't help his legacy, IMHO.


This board is not for casual people who happen to like a few songs, but for collectors and fans. There is a vast difference. This is one of the articles that tells us more about Presley and the way he worked than a dozen books put together. Do you really want us self-censoring things that might not show Elvis in a totally positive light in case someone happens to come across it who might not view Elvis in the same way afterwards? Should we really now censor every thread that involves any hints of bad songs, a lax attitude to his work, drugs, poor shows, poor movies? Why not just close the board down completely?

The most ridiculous thing about your comment is that Elvis gave the interview to a newspaper and knew it was going to be published. So he obviously wasn't ashamed of what he said or thought, and the article was published for all to see 50 years ago!