This past Friday, the news was full of stories and live feeds of President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visiting Graceland. Radio, TV, newspapers, and web news pages gave Elvis fans all the coverage we could possibly want, so what’s left to say on Elvisblog? What’s an angle that hasn’t been covered?
Well. Here’s a good one. Nearly every news report mentioned that Prime Minister Koizumi released a CD back in 2001 of his 25 favorite Elvis songs. Only 200,000 copies were made, and all the proceeds went to Japanese charities. Hopefully, you have seen the photo of the CD cover in other media, because posting pictures is something Elvisblog doesn’t do (maybe next year). However, the CD picture is a clever computer cut-and-paste merging of Koizumi into an old photo of Elvis on the front porch of Graceland. For some reason, the words on the CD cover shown on the news reports are in English, not Japanese.
Check out the list of Koizumi’s 25 favorite Elvis songs.
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
I Was the One
Any way you want me
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?
That’s When Your Heartache Begin
A Fool Such As I
It’s Now Or Never
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Can’t Help Falling In Love
The Wonder of You
Bridge Over troubled Waters
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
The First Time Ever I Saw Your face
The Impossible Dream
You Gave Me A Mountain
An Evening Prayer
If I Can Dream
Hawaiian Wedding Song
This list prompts several observations. None of Elvis’ biggest hits are on the list. No “Hound Dog” or “Don’t Be Cruel.” Instead of “Heartbreak Hotel,” Koizumi selected the flip-side “I Was The One.” Likewise, there is no “All Shook Up,” but the B-side “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” is there. Obviously, he prefers Elvis’ ballads to his rockers. “Wear My Ring” and “A Fool Such As I” are the only true fast songs in the collection. Also interesting is the number of gospel songs at the end of the CD.
To be sure, several of Koizumi’s favorites are among Elvis’ more obscure songs. “No More” came from the soundtrack of Blue Hawaii. Koizumi obviously liked this album, because he also included “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and “Hawaiian Wedding Song” from it, too. “My Boy” was released in 1975, and it went to # 20 on the charts. IF you are curious to hear this one, it is on the album Good Times.
“Separate Ways also made it to # 2 (1972), and it is on the RCA Camden album of the same name. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was the flip-side of “American Trilogy,” and both songs made the list. “An Evening Prayer” was on the album, He Touched Me, as is “Amazing Grace.”
Elvis never recorded “The Impossible Dream” in the studio. It was released only on the live concert album Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden. Two other selections were never released as singles. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” is from the soundtrack to the 1972 documentary film Elvis – That’s The Way It Is. Elvis sang “You Gave Me A Mountain” in the TV special Elvis Aloha From Hawaii.
The news reports made it plain that Prime Minister Koizumi is a genuine Elvis fan. His selections for the Elvis CD show he has certainly spent many hours listening deep into the Elvis library of songs: B-sides, movie soundtracks, TV specials, documentary movies, and gospel albums. Way to go, Mr. Prime Minister.
© 2006 Philip R Arnold www.elvisblog.net
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