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The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:30 am

Note to the reader: This essay may be considered a heresy by some of the faithful but it is simply my intention to open up the conversation on Presley’s creative vision.

Whether my thoughts and theories are considered valid or not, however, the article does represent considerable original research and I would be grateful, should anyone consider the article worth copying or reprinting, for a credit recognising George Smith @ FECC 2012.


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"The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doin' now, man, for more years than I know. They played it like that in the shanties and juke joints and nobody paid it no mind 'til I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw."
Elvis Presley, Charlotte Observer, June 26, 1956

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This extract from an interview that Elvis gave as his fame approached its early peak, gives us a fascinating and rare glimpse of the boyhood Elvis and his listening habits. The Presley family moved from Tupelo to Memphis in November 1948 when Elvis was aged 13, so, if we take Elvis’ statement at face value, he started listening to Arthur Crudup’s blues music during his own pre-teen years.

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Crudup’s first single, “If I Get Lucky”, was released in late 1941 and he issued records on a regular basis throughout the rest of the decade and beyond. As such, the Tupelo-based Elvis could possibly have been listening to the Mississippi bluesman from the age of 7 onwards. There is no evidence of the Presley family owning a record player during their Tupelo years so it would seem likely that young Elvis heard Crudup solely over the radio.

During his teens, Elvis became more serious about his own singing and performing but his professional ambitions and hopes remained a personal secret. He would occasionally play with and for his friends but his repertoire seemed to be drawn almost exclusively from the white side of the fence: gentle ballads, country songs, and the occasional acceptable “race” track like Lonnie Johnson’s “Tomorrow Night”.

Friend and fellow musician, Johnny Black, does remember the pre-fame Elvis singing Crudup's 1947 release, “That’s All Right”, for him and declaring that he (Elvis) had written the song. Putting to one side for a moment the blatant lie that Elvis seems to have told, it is interesting to note that Black (a white boy) was not familiar with the Crudup song.

For the most part then, before turning professional, Elvis’ self-professed love for Crudup’s music and the blues in general seems to have remained a secret passion within a secret ambition.

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It has long since been established that Elvis’ retrospective humility regarding his early music was a cover story: Elvis did not stumble into the music business - he planned his approach to Sun Records by recording demos and hanging around the studio. And yet, his assault was undeniably cautious. He rarely put himself on the line, perhaps for fear of being rejected. Many of us will recognise this scenario.

Rather than announce that he was “auditioning” for Mr Phillips when he made his first demo disc, "My Happiness", Elvis suggested that he was making a record for his mother. There were cheaper studios in Memphis where Elvis could have recorded his gift record. Six months later he gently pushed his case again by recording a second Sun demo. Was he perhaps hoping that Sam Phillips would burst out of the control room and announce that Elvis was a real talent? If so, this did not happen. Sam probably heard the recordings but it seems there was little of real interest as far as Phillips was concerned.

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As the anniversary of Elvis’ first demo record approached, Phillips made an unusual move. He had recently received an acetate of an anonymous young black singer crooning a plain ballad, “Without You”. Unable to release the record with an unknown singer, he decided (at Marion Keisker’s suggestion) to offer the track to Elvis. Why Phillips displayed any interest in this particular song is not clear. In some ways, it seems to represent the antithesis of Sam’s musical ideal: there was nothing novel or different about the song, indeed it was very ordinary. It would have been odd for Phillips to release such a song on the Sun label. Perhaps he heard something in the recorded voice, something he hoped the side-burned young truck driver could replicate.

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When invited by Phillips to come into the studio for a tryout, Elvis apparently showed Sam a little bit of everything he knew: some pop, some country, perhaps some Gospel. But did he play any blues or Crudup? It would seem not. Perhaps unsure of how Mr Phillips would react (a white boy plays the blues?), Elvis seems to have kept his secret passion buried. Sam dropped the song but persisted with the singer.

On Sam’s suggestion, Elvis met up with Scotty Moore and Bill Black, two C&W / hillbilly musicians. Perhaps in the pre-amble, Elvis sounded the guys out: What kind of music do you fellows like? Scotty and Bill probably kept their answers on the more predictable side of the musical fence. As such, they likely played though some country and pop covers together. Scotty and Bill both felt that Elvis could certainly hold a tune but there was nothing special about the guy, other than his flashy clothes and attention-seeking hair and side-burns.

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When the three men met up again it was with Sam Phillips on a Monday evening in the Sun studio with the intention of conducting a proper rehearsal, an audition for Elvis: they were going to put something on tape to see how it sounded. Scotty and Bill were there simply to provide a little musical background colour for the nervous vocalist. They worked for maybe two, three, maybe four hours, running over the same type of slow songs again and again. The results were pleasant enough but Mr Phillips remained somewhat underwhelmed.

As the session began to run out of steam, Elvis picked up his guitar and – according to popular legend – for no particular reason whatsoever, launched into an off-the-cuff rendition of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right”. Scotty was not familiar with the song but joined in. Bill, despite presumably also not knowing the track, was already thumping his bass. Both musicians were happy to go along with Elvis’ apparent tomfoolery to relieve some of the frustration and tension. Sam Phillips, however, was certainly familiar with the song. What he couldn’t figure out was
a) How this white boy knew Crudup’s material, and
b) Why he hadn’t already shared this knowledge with Sam.

Stepping onto the studio floor, an excited Phillips stopped the musicians mid-song and told them to work out an introduction to the track so they could record it properly. The embarrassed trio did exactly that and within two or three takes the finished master was in the can.

And so, Elvis’ whole career kicked off with an inspired, unprepared moment of magic. Elvis, dredging up a memory of an old Crudup blues song, began to break down the musical barriers that had plagued American music for decades.

It was an unconscious moment of genius. As with so many key moments throughout Elvis’ career, there was no planning, there was no deliberate intention. It was just luck, as Elvis himself claimed on more than one occasion.

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And yet …

Knowing now that Elvis’ early forays into the “record-your-own-voice” booth were very likely definite attempts to kick-start his career in the entertainment business and catch Mr Phillips’ attention, should we not also revisit that magic night of Monday 5 July 1954 and reconsider the situation?

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We have seen that the young Elvis was understandably afraid of rejection. It took a lot of courage for him to publicly reveal any side of his talent, to open up his ambitions and dreams to possible ridicule.

So far, he had carefully sounded out the ground with each small step:
1) The first demo consisted of two simple ballads with Elvis imitating two black singers (Ella Fitzgerald and the Inkspots).
2) The second demo focused on white pop songs.
3) Mr Phillips played Elvis a plain ballad; Elvis responded with pop songs and country tracks.
4) Elvis spoke to Scotty and Bill: they probably suggested pop and country numbers during their first casual jam session together, just looking for songs they all knew how to play.
5) In the studio, Elvis continued singing bland and predictable pop and country. He was hesitant about revealing even this much about himself: you can hear that in his voice.

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By late evening on 5 July 1954, Elvis had pretty much sung through all the safe stuff he had in his arsenal: he’d used up almost everything in that particular bag of tricks. He’d crooned, he’d whistled, he’d tried a narration, and still Mr Phillips was encouraging but unmoved. As the session drew to a close, Elvis maybe saw his big chance slipping away. It was late, it was hot, all three musicians had work the next day.

This was it: maybe Elvis’ final opportunity to impress Mr Phillips. Elvis had searched in vain for any sign that Scotty, Bill and Sam might have been interested in hearing something a little more exciting, but now he threw caution to the wind and, without warning, he picked up his guitar and started singing.

The history books will tell you that Elvis performed a spontaneous cover of Crudup’s “That’s All Right”, but the history books are wrong.

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What Elvis actually did was to leap into a medley of at least five different Crudup hits. This was a medley that could only have been assembled and performed by a connoisseur of the blues and of Arthur Crudup’s blues in particular.

Crudup has often been described as a one-trick-pony. This somewhat unfair tag comes from the fact that several of his recordings follow a similar structure, melody and lyric. There are admittedly many songs within Crudup’s catalogue that could easily be put into one medley (Crudup himself sort of did this anyway).

Let’s look in detail at what Elvis was actually singing compared to Crudup’s original single, while keeping one careful eye on Crudup’s other recordings (see attached diagram for a full breakdown).

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Verse one and chorus
Elvis follows Crudup’s first verse very closely and there are no real differences. Crudup uses these particular lyrics several times throughout different songs. Until Elvis hits the chorus, it could easily be argued that he’s singing Crudup’s first single, “If I Get Lucky”, which starts in exactly the same fashion, or maybe mixing some verses from “Dirt Road Blues” or “I Want My Loving”. When Elvis reaches the first chorus, we finally establish which song he’s probably covering.

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Verse two and chorus
Elvis follows the general line of Crudup’s second verse. Again, this is a verse that Crudup often used, albeit with occasional variations. Whenever Crudup used this verse it followed the same pattern: the first two lines tell of the singer’s parents’ concern for his well-being, and the third and fourth lines show that their concerns focus on his relationship(s) with the opposite sex.

On Elvis’ take, apart from an extra “done” in line two, Elvis follows Crudup’s first two lines verbatim.

The third and fourth lines, however, show how Elvis softened the message. Crudup would sometimes sing a line like “The life you’re living, son, now, women be the death of you” or “This woman you’ve got, son, she ain’t no friend to you”, but Elvis came up with “That girl you’re fooling with she ain’t no good for you.” There is no known Crudup precedent for this exact lyric so what we have is Elvis’ own take on the original sentiment mixed in with a selection of Crudup-esque words from a number of different Crudup songs.

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Verse three / four and chorus
Elvis completely ignores Crudup’s third verse and re-interprets the fourth by dropping in a line from “If I Get Lucky”. This is followed by a few words from “Dirt Road Blues” mixed together with Crudup’s original “That’s All Right” lyric. Also during this verse, Elvis throws in his own rhyme of “sure / door” which can’t be found in any other Crudup song.

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Scat verse and chorus
Crudup’s “Dee-Dee” scat verse was something of a trademark (akin to the Beatles’ “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”), so it’s no surprise that Elvis decided to include it here. But the real delight is his nod to Crudup’s “I Want My Loving” as he slides into the final chorus (Elvis actually sings, “I need your loving”) which is a final tip of the hat from the young pretender to the old master. Beautiful.

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Johnny Black remembered Elvis (in his pre-fame years) singing and claiming authorship of (some version of) “That’s All Right” on their housing estate and Johnny believed him. By conventional standards, of course, Elvis did not write the song that he played for Johnny, but the following extract from Scotty Moore’s website makes interesting reading:

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One day, a white man asked Arthur (Crudup) if he’d like to hear himself on a record and get paid for it, too. The man, Lester Melrose, A&R rep for the RCA Bluebird label, took Arthur to record and to meet Tampa Red. Melrose told (Crudup) to bring at least four “original” songs to the recording session. After Melrose left, Crudup asked Tampa for some advice on how to write songs. Tampa told him, “It’s easy. Just take the third or fourth verse of some old record and make that your title verse. Then add other verses from other songs or anything that you can make up that fits the tune.”
So it was that Arthur Crudup lifted the fourth verse from a Texas bluesman’s 1926 recording, “Black Snake Moan,” and in September 1946 recorded:
“That’s all right, mama
That’s all right for you
That’s all right, mama
Any way you do…”
Elvis didn’t know it, but in 1954 he was singing lines first recorded by Country Blues’ first major star, Blind Lemon Jefferson.


http://www.scottymoore.net/thatsallright.html

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Using Tampa Red’s criteria, Elvis could indeed be listed as the writer of his version of “That’s All Right”, but this is by and large an irrelevant and academic point.

What is relevant and interesting, however, is to ponder the question: Did Elvis simply throw together his medley on the spot at 706 Union Avenue, or was it a “new song” that he’d already assembled knowing full well that in doing so he was actually paying homage to Crudup’s own style of composition? Had Elvis previously cherry-picked a selection of great lines and put them together with a few of his own lyrics to make up his own Crudup-medley?

It is clear that on many subsequent occasions in the Sun and RCA studios, Elvis partly remembered songs and threw stuff together in a very ramshackle (but very successful and often brilliant) fashion. To me, though, this seems like a different situation.

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What makes “That’s All Right” very interesting is this: Sam Phillips remembers that the song was nailed in just two or three takes, and we have two of these - the master and one complete outtake. These two existing takes are absolutely identical as far as Elvis’ performances are concerned. Every word, every casual “mama”, every conjunction is identical.

If this was something that Elvis just came up with on the spur of the moment (as is always suggested) then it really is quite remarkable that the two extant takes are literally identical. There’s not a word or inflection out of place. Could you do this? I’m sure I couldn’t, particularly when aware of the fact that Elvis was not simply copying an existing much-loved, well-played Crudup single but was, in fact, working his way through a “spontaneous” medley of at least five Crudup songs.

It could easily be argued that Elvis was singing on-the-hoof, that he was grabbing Crudup lyrics out of his memory and hoping they fitted together: so far so good. Maybe he could do this once: but to do it twice, to duplicate his improvisation without a single syllable out of place? It seems unlikely to me.

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It has been said that Elvis was musically colour-blind (“I just loved music: music, period.”). This may be so but he was no fool. He knew that in singing a “black” song he was messing with the colour barrier.

The young Elvis very rarely revealed his love of the blues. Dixie Locke, for example, his beloved girlfriend, knew nothing about it. Johnny Black seems to have the only person who heard the pre-fame Elvis performing an uptempo blues, and it was a song that Johnny had never heard before. This demonstrates just how odd and special Elvis was in his love of black culture and black music. And yet he revealed none of this passion to Sam, Scotty or Bill before the magic moment.

But the music was there all along, inside him, just waiting to be released and revealed. And it’s the word “revealed” which is the key. To bring a Crudup song to the studio or to Sam was a huge gamble on Elvis’ part and it opened him up to the risk of great abuse and ridicule. Scotty and Bill acknowledged the risk once they’d nailed the master (“They’ll run us out of town”).

Elvis came to Sun partly because he knew it was a place in which black music was respected and celebrated by Phillips. It was Presley's (understandable) fear and inhibitions that held him back. Did Sam sense the passion within the socially awkward young man? Was this Sam’s greatest talent, the recognition of the passions and abilities of others? Or was it his gift to release those passions and abilities.

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It is my belief that Elvis came to 706 Union on Monday 5 July 1954 with his own “new song” ready to sing and play, his own “new” Arthur Crudup song. What he needed was an opening, a reason to use the song. Perhaps he was waiting for an invitation from Mr Phillips: “Do you know any blues, son?”

When the invitation was not forthcoming, Elvis gathered his courage and, as the session ran down and his great opportunity prepared to walk out of the door, he strummed his guitar and started singing with such release and joy that his fellow musicians were astonished and felt obliged to join in, even though they didn’t recognise the song. The record was nailed within 15 minutes because Elvis knew the song inside out. Listen to the outtake: it’s Scotty and Bill who are looking for direction. Elvis is immaculate..

One could almost compare the moment to a “coming out”: Elvis was finally able to publicly acknowledge his love of the blues, and it’s that sense of love and playfulness that pervades the song.

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It would not have escaped Elvis’ attention (he was a blues obsessive) that Arthur Crudup’s first single, “If I Get Lucky”, kicked off with the lyric, “That’s all right, mama, that’s all right for you, that’s all right, mama, anyway you do” and I don’t consider it beyond the realms of possibility that Elvis wanted his own first record to have the same opening as his beloved Arthur Crudup.

It’s also of note that before almost every guitar solo in Crudup’s catalogue, he shouts “Play the blues!” or “Play it one time!” or some other exhortation, a habit Elvis himself would continue until his own death.

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It is only relatively recently that we have begun to understand the nature of Elvis’ artistic control at RCA during the 1950’s, including his insistence on the right of veto. It was Elvis, for example, who went back into the studio to personally overdub instruments on “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck”. It was Elvis who insisted that “Heartbreak Hotel” was the right record to release as his RCA debut single.

Too often we fall in with Elvis’ modesty regarding his early career. However, slowly but surely, we are opening doors and finding actual evidence of his huge ambition and talent. There is enough evidence here for us to at least consider the possibility that Elvis may have brought his “new” Crudup song with him to Union Avenue on 5 July 1954 with an intention / desire to record it. His decision to reveal the song near the end of the evening may have been spontaneous but could just as easily have been part of a plan.

To deny this possibility is to ignore Presley’s creative ability and to suppress his artistic vision.

George Smith @ FECC 2012
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Last edited by George Smith on Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:31 am

Unbelievably fantastic post. What superb research.

I am going to savor this one for a while.

Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.

::rocks

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:38 am

Thank you, George Smith!

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:43 am

Very nice Mr. Smith!!

Hey, you might be related to Elvis.

His Mom's maiden name was Smith. :wink:

::rocks

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:56 am

Magnificent! Yes, you certainly get the credit! It's wonderful, and multi-media (which really helps), and coherent, and impossible to ignore.

Thank you George, for sharing this here.

I want to ask you, though: I read in Guralnick that he not only told Johnny Black "I wrote it," but had rehearsed it with Johnny Black on the lawn of the courts, which prompted Johnny Black's question about what it was that they were playing. "I wrote it." I've never seen it as a "lie," but as an amateur who didn't understand, clearly, what "writing" meant in the music business.

As you make clear, he actually "wrote it" in much the way one "makes a blues." As Crudup did, with the Jefferson verse (which also appeared on a recording or two, in between Jefferson and Crudup. I believe the fellow was Ishman Bracey, and the line came on a rare outtake of a well-known song. I have to look in Michael Gray's encyclopedia to be certain of the track details, but it could be that this is what Crudup heard. Jefferson died, in the snow, after a gig, in 1927.) That is Gray's research, regurgitated by me, and it's very good.

This brings into question the very real difference between blues writing and popular song writing. You "make" a blues; you "write" a song. In any event, I have no doubt whatsoever that this was rehearsed, with the changes you cite, clearly. Dylan codified the song: I have the sheet music, which I posted here, and it's really Elvis's version that he codified, not Crudup's. {Of course, he claimed all credit. ;) }

I am SURE that it was Johnny Black. In Dundy, Bill's son Louis recalls his mother (or granny?) talking about what she heard from the window, after she heard Elvis on the radio. "That's the song" she said, that she heard them play on the lawn. They'd get water thrown on them! This was after Elvis moved to Alabama St.

Citations include Peter Guralnick, Michael Gray, and Elaine Dundy. And George Smith@FECC!

:D :D :D

rjm (I will try to return with Ishman Bracey's verse on his outtake. I almost downloaded it from some site about 6 months ago - maybe more, but ILivid cra**d out on me, again.)
Last edited by rjm on Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:04 am

From Michael Gray Dylan Encyclopedia blog:

Michael Gray wrote:FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009
ARTHUR BIG BOY CRUDUP

Arthur Crudup, 1971
photo © Stan Livingston

Tomorrow (March 28) is the 35th anniversary of the death of Arthur Crudup in Nassawadox, Virginia. Here's his Bob Dylan Encyclopedia entry:

Crudup, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ [1905 - 1974]
Arthur William Crudup was born into rural poverty in Forest, in southern Mississippi, on August 24, 1905 and was singing in church by the age of 10. He worked as a labourer before taking up the guitar at the unusually late age of 32 but was soon playing at local parties. In the depths of the Depression he struggled to stay in music but in 1940 joined gospel group the Harmonizing Four, moved to Chicago with them in 1941 (living, to begin with, in a wooden crate under the ‘L’ station) and then quit the group and turned back to the blues. Discovered by a Victor talent scout, he was asked to perform that same evening in front of towering figures like TAMPA RED, BIG BILL BROONZY and LONNIE JOHNSON. His guitar playing was simple but he was a strong songwriter with a spare, field-holler voice, and after impressing this intimidating audience he was signed up. He recorded over 80 sides between 1941 and 1956, scoring 78rpm successes with a handful.

His fame in the wider world rests on the fact that ELVIS PRESLEY’s first record, the immortal ‘That’s All Right’, recorded in July 1954, was a revolutionary revival of an Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup song. (When Presley moved from Sun to RCA at the beginning of 1956, he swiftly recorded another old Crudup 1940s record, ‘So Glad You’re Mine’.)

Yet it’s an example of how timeless Elvis Presley’s exciting new transmissions could be that the line ‘That’s alright, mama, that’s alright for you’ figures in a much earlier blues classic than the Crudup song. It’s a stanza from BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON’s seminal ‘Black Snake Moan’ (cut in Chicago as ‘That Black Snake Moan’ in 1926 and re-cut in Atlanta as ‘Black Snake Moan’ in 1927). The lines ‘Mama that’s alright, sugar that’s alright for you / That’s alright mama, that’s alright for you / ... just the way you do’ then recurred the following year in one of the two takes of Ishman Bracey’s terrific ‘’Fore Day Blues’. Then, on the early Crudup side ‘If I Get Lucky’, in 1941, he not only tried out the lines ‘That’s alright mama, that’s alright for you / Treat me low-down and dirty, any old way you do’ for the first time but did it with a style of hollering that admits a debt to Bracey as much as to Jefferson.

The connection makes sense: Crudup hung out in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1940s, when Ishman Bracey was the city’s most popular and active musician. In turn, it was 150 miles up Highway 55, in Memphis, that Elvis saw Crudup perform. Somewhere there’s an interview with Elvis in which he’s asked, when he’s the ultimate star, if he had imagined that kind of fame and success for himself when he started out. Elvis replies: ‘No. When I started out I just wanted to be as good as Arthur Crudup was when I saw him live in ’49.’
{NO CITATION; your quote, George, seems much more likely: in any event, we can be sure he saw him live at around this time, but I believe it was in Tupelo}

{There is also a tale of Elvis changing a tire for Crudup; cite unavailable presently.}

One of the Crudup records Presley surprised Sam Phillips by knowing was ‘Rock Me Mama’, and this is the other Crudup song besides ‘That’s All Right’ that Dylan recorded. He tried ‘That’s All Right’ fairly early in his own career, at the session of October 26, 1962 that yielded both the Freewheelin’ and the slightly different single-release version of ‘Corrina Corrina’, and again at the session of November 1; these have circulated but remain unissued. A little over ten years later Dylan tried Crudup’s ‘Rock Me Mama’ at the sessions for Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid in 1973, to no especially significant avail. It’s a simple song, anonymous in character and Dylan does nothing much with it - or at least, you’d say so until you find that in 2004 the group Old Crow Medicine Show include the song under the title ‘Wagon Wheel’ and credit this title partly to Dylan and his music publishing company. (And don’t credit Crudup at all.) The two known Dylan takes have never been released but have circulated in rather poor quality.

Other Crudup records have Dylan connections. His ‘Death Valley Blues’ (see the entry on Dylan’s song ‘Dignity’) tells a story that takes place out on Highway 61; his ‘Mean Old Frisco Blues’ is one of the very few pre-war records to use the phrase ‘special rider’, which Dylan took as the name of his most important music-publishing company; Crudup made a record called ‘That’s Your Red Wagon’ in 1945; his 1941 revisit to CHARLEY PATTON territory on ‘Black Pony Blues’ includes the phrase ‘she fox-trot and pace’, which Dylan echoes in his own ‘New Pony’ blues on Street Legal in 1978; and Crudup recorded a ‘Dirt Road Blues’ in 1945.

Presley had always credited Crudup, both in interviews and on the record label; but royalties paid never reached the musician and he remained in poverty even while being labelled ‘the father of rock’n’roll’; in response he liked to refer to his most famous fan as ‘Elvin Preston’. He had returned to southern Mississippi by the end of the 1940s - like BLIND WILLIE McTELL, his sound had become passé in Chicago - and though he made the occasional foray into Memphis, he was back to playing rural juke joints by the early 1950s. It is a bellowing irony that the same year Elvis Presley shot to national prominence and that undreamt-of fame, 1956, Arthur Crudup gave up music and returned to farmwork.

However, he was still only 50 years old, and he survived long enough to receive an eventual $60,000 in back royalties when ‘rediscovered’ in 1965 by Dick Waterman, who pointed him towards the folk revival movement. He toured the US East Coast and Europe as a rightly valued survivor of the pre-war country blues world, recorded with British musicians on a UK trip in 1970 and back in the US even went out as the support act to Bonnie Raitt.

Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup suffered a fatal stroke and died while still a working musician, in Nassawadox, Virginia, on March 28, 1974.

[Arthur Crudup: ‘If I Get Lucky’, ‘Death Valley Blues’ & ‘Black Pony Blues’, Chicago, 11 Sep 1941, the 1st on King of the Blues Vol. 3 (EP), RCA RCX204, London, 1962; the others on Bluebird Blues, RCA LPV-518 (Vintage Series), NY, 1965; ‘Mean Old Frisco Blues’, Chicago, 15 Apr 1942, The Rural Blues, RBF FR-202, NY, 1964; ‘That’s Your Red Wagon’ (unreleased till 1983) & ‘Dirt Road Blues’, Chicago, 22 Oct 1945, the latter on Victor 20-2757, NY, 1947; ‘That’s All Right’, Chicago, 6 Sep 1946, known by Presley from the 78rpm Victor 20-2205 (c/w ‘Crudup’s After Hours’), NY, 1946.
Bob Dylan: ‘That’s All Right’, NY, 26 Oct 1962; ‘Rock Me Mama’, Burbank CA, Feb 1973; both unreleased. Elvis Presley: ‘That’s All Right’, Memphis, July 5-6, 1954, Sun 209, Memphis, 1954. Blind Lemon Jefferson: ‘That Black Snake Moan’, Chicago, c.Nov 1926, Black Snake Moan: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Milestone MLP-2013, NY, 1970. ‘Black Snake Moan’, Atlanta, 14 Mar 1927, Jazz Vol. 2: The Blues, Folkways FP55 & FJ-2802, NY, 1950. Ishman Bracey: ‘The ’Fore Day Blues’ (alternate take), Memphis, 31 Aug 1928, Jackson Blues 1928-1938, Yazoo L-1007, NY, c.1968, CD-reissued YAZCD1007, NY, c.1988. (The lyric fragment quoted is not on the better-known take, issued on The Famous 1928 Tommy Johnson-Ishman Bracey Session, Roots RL-330, Vienna, 1970; both takes are CD-reissued on Ishman Bracey & Charley Taylor, Document DOCD-5049, Vienna, c.1991.) Old Crow Medicine Show: ‘Wagon Wheel’, Old Crow Medicine Show, Nettwerk, US, 2004.
Main sources: Michael Gray, Song & Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan; Rick Anderson, entry in The Blues Encyclopedia, New York: Routledge, 2005, pp. 240-243, and Tony Russell, The Blues From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, London: Arum Press, 1997, p.105.]
posted by MICHAEL GRAY | 8:55 PM


Emphasis, mine.

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‘The ’Fore Day Blues’ (alternate take), Memphis, 31 Aug 1928

Gray's article on Dylan was posted here! http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=53933

I will disclaim that I read it before I knew of FECC, on Gray's blog site. I did try to find this recording, and almost snagged it! If anyone can get ahold of Bracey's take, with the verse, and just upload to YouTube . . . it would be much appreciated!

All credit to George Smith@FECC !!!!!! This was a coherent, complete argument, which you could have published in a musicology journal! But you shared it with us. It will be respected: you can count on that, my friend.

rjm (I just bought the CD, with both Ishman Bracey takes. It's a little diff. than his discography. I cross my fingers it's on there!)
P.S. -- Available on ITunes:

Unissued Take, Four Day Blues.
Ishman Bracey,
Suitcase full of Blues 1928-1929

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/suitcase-full-blues-1928-1929/id491072517

"Mama, that's all right, mama, sugar, that's all right for you/
That's all right Mama, that's all right for you, you know you got me just the way you do"

At 2:23 to 2:47


Crudup did not "write" this song in the contemporary sense: he added to the basic lines that form the song, and made it the core of his "new" song. He deserves credit, but as much credit as Bracey, without whom he would not have ever used the lines, or written the song. And Elvis Presley, who changed a number of key lyrics, and the musical patterns of the song, also deserves some credit - in the manner of the bluesmen, at any rate.

When Elvis told Johnny Black "I wrote it," he was not lying to him: he "wrote it" as much as Crudup, when taking what he heard from Bracey - and we haven't, of course, heard what Johnny Black heard, which may not have been the same.

@George Smith
Last edited by rjm on Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:11 am, edited 3 times in total.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:23 am

Brilliant thread!!!! :smt007 :smt007
Thanks George.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:36 am

One of the greatest posts in the history of FECC. Lord, have mercy.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:44 am

Superb post George.Well written,well researched,well linked.A joy to read and digest.

norrie

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:20 am

Definitely one of the finest ever FECC posts. Nice job George.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:28 am

That's was fascinating, George!

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:47 am

George Smith, this is an outstanding post! Your research and analysis is thought-provoking and very well written.

Elvis made "That's All Right" his own in the best tradition of blues (and country) music, adapting verses from different sources to form a complete song.

There is no question that "That's All Right" was a song that Elvis embraced as his musical barometer from long before July 5, 1954 until his final tour in June 1977.

It would be interesting to compile and analyze all of Elvis' recordings of "That's All Right" between 1954 and 1977 as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of his musical career. From the innocence of 1954, to the increased energy and assurance of 1955-56, to the confident performance of 1961 in Hawaii, to the reckless abandon of June 1968, to the slickness of the early Las Vegas era, and culminating in a back to basics approach in his final tours, Elvis made this song a constant in his performances. Elvis always paid homage to the song that represented his big break.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:12 am

Fantastic post!! WOW!!
Thanks for the time and effort in your research and sharing it with us. :smt023

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:22 am

elvisjock wrote:One of the greatest posts in the history of FECC. Lord, have mercy.

Hey!

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:00 am

Thank you for an absolutely brilliant post George: this needs to be shared with a larger audience. We shall feature it on our FB club page, with your permission.

One point that always intrigued me was, how tight the arrangement was and how Scotty got the instrumental Bridge to sound similar to what was on Crudup's version, IF it was really a "Spontanaeous" performance: or did Sam / (or Elvis run home ) get hold of a copy which they all could listen to ?

Thank you again- not often we get to savour such good writing.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:23 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
elvisjock wrote:One of the greatest posts in the history of FECC. Lord, have mercy.

Hey!


Good one, Doc. :D

rjm ::rocks

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:27 am

elvisjock wrote:One of the greatest posts in the history of FECC. Lord, have mercy.


Hey! One of yours, elvisjock, happens to be one of my favorites. It was very brief. The last line of the post. You probably don't even remember it.

But it touched me deeply, and I can't forget it.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=63609&p=1024815#p1024815

rjm ::rocks

P.S. -- You rock, George. I just wanted to tell him. I think I read it on my Kindle . . . the new one, maybe even.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:31 am

Thank you for your very kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

RJ, thanks for the heads up: my notes did say "Johnny Black", but I typed "Buzzy Forbes" - article now amended.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:05 am

George Smith wrote:Thank you for your very kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

RJ, thanks for the heads up: my notes did say "Johnny Black", but I typed "Buzzy Forbes" - article now amended.


Again, great work! :smt023 I just thought Buzzy was talking again! He's been at it for a loooonnnnnng time!

rjm

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:22 am

jbgude wrote:Thank you for an absolutely brilliant post George: this needs to be shared with a larger audience. We shall feature it on our FB club page, with your permission.

One point that always intrigued me was, how tight the arrangement was and how Scotty got the instrumental Bridge to sound similar to what was on Crudup's version, IF it was really a "Spontanaeous" performance: or did Sam / (or Elvis run home ) get hold of a copy which they all could listen to ?

Thank you again- not often we get to savour such good writing.

One rumour I have yet to confirm is the possibility that Elvis ran down some of the blues he loved, along with the pop and country numbers we all know about, at the formal audition for Sam Phillips on the afternoon of June 26, 1954. This would include "That's All Right."

The notion makes sense, as the ballad Sam played for him, "Without You," was clearly sung by an African-American. And when Elvis could not nail down a good recording the teenager allegedly played a little bit of everything to show the producer he was worthy of a second look. Why would the blues be left out? Elvis knew the Sun output to date, and it was heavy on blues in the past year, with records by Little Milton, James Cotton, Billy 'the Kid' Emerson, Doctor Ross, Little Junior's Blue Flames, Rufus Thomas, Jr and the Prisonaires.

And, if true, it would have been just like Sam to keep quiet during the Monday evening "rehearsal on tape" that he set up with Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Phillips was looking for chemistry, for the moment, and it had to happen without any meddling.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:30 pm

Last time he sang That's All Right in June 1977 in Elvis in concert TV special. Not great, but is worth watching this because of the history significance

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:01 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:One rumour I have yet to confirm is the possibility that Elvis ran down some of the blues he loved, along with the pop and country numbers we all know about, at the formal audition for Sam Phillips on the afternoon of June 26, 1954. This would include "That's All Right."

The notion makes sense, as the ballad Sam played for him, "Without You," was clearly sung by an African-American. And when Elvis could not nail down a good recording the teenager allegedly played a little bit of everything to show the producer he was worthy of a second look. Why would the blues be left out? Elvis knew the Sun output to date, and it was heavy on blues in the past year, with records by Little Milton, James Cotton, Billy 'the Kid' Emerson, Doctor Ross, Little Junior's Blue Flames, Rufus Thomas, Jr and the Prisonaires.

And, if true, it would have been just like Sam to keep quiet during the Monday evening "rehearsal on tape" that he set up with Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Phillips was looking for chemistry, for the moment, and it had to happen without any meddling.

All valid points, John, thank you.

The question of what Elvis actually played for Sam is a crucial one. I'd generally assumed that Elvis did indeed play pretty much everything he knew in his audition: pop, country, blues, Gospel, black, white. But this doesn't seem to join up with Sam's reaction to hearing the Crudup number on the Monday night.

You're quite right about Elvis knowing the Sun catalogue, I'm sure about that. I don't know my Sun history as well as I should (or as well as Elvis did, for that matter) but I presume that the RnB material was all sung by black artists and the hillbilly material was all sung by white artists. Is there a Sun precedent for an artist stepping over the fence in either direction?

Elvis was an odd-looking flashy-dressing white country boy with a guitar: why would anyone assume he knew / liked / sang the blues?

I don't have many answers but I have lots of questions.

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:47 pm

What a fantastic piece of writing George!!
Rarely did that " period" is putted in words like above.
Outstanding detailed and worth reading, you should consider a book!!!

Ps. At he moment i play the Baltimore '77 show (actually not THAT bad, in fact a like it),listening to "That's alright", he sure came a long way....

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:52 pm

Fantastic stuff, George. Definately one of the great posts ever on FECC and the great thing about it is that you are so modest in your response.

Total respect deserved for your hard work and time.

Brilliant!!

Re: The Crudup Connection: 5 July 1954 Revisited

Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:03 pm

rjm wrote:
elvisjock wrote:One of the greatest posts in the history of FECC. Lord, have mercy.


Hey! One of yours, elvisjock, happens to be one of my favorites. It was very brief. The last line of the post. You probably don't even remember it.

But it touched me deeply, and I can't forget it.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=63609&p=1024815#p1024815

rjm ::rocks

P.S. -- You rock, George. I just wanted to tell him. I think I read it on my Kindle . . . the new one, maybe even.


Thank you.