Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Elvis Pumpkin Carving Contest

If you are a member of Elvis Insiders or have recently checked the news on Elvis.com, you know that EPE is sponsoring an Elvis-themed pumpkin carving contest.  You can carve your pumpkin, post a photo of it on the Elvis Facebook page, and maybe you’ll win $250 worth of merchandise from ShopElvis.com.

You may be surprised to know how popular Elvis pumpkin carving has been even prior to Graceland getting involved.  Elvisblog did a Halloween photo essay of Elvis pumpkins back in 2009.  I didn’t pick a winner at the time, but probably the best of the bunch was this:

You will notice a big difference between these two styles.  The pumpkin on the contest image is what I guess we would call the old-style carving where the knife cuts go all the way through and light from a candle shines out.  The other seems to be the popular style now where only darker, outer skin is carved out to create detailed designs.

 

Here’s an Elvis pumpkin we featured in 2010 that is a terrific example of a carved-through design.  This is impressive.

 

And here is a more recent discovery that shows an unmistakable image of Elvis using the outer skin cut out style.

 

Now, it seems we have reached a new level in pumpkin-carving technology or skill, or both.  It’s hard to believe the vivid images on these next two were achieved by just cutting away the orange outer skin.  Their creators are real artists.

 

And check out the level of detail on these three.  How do the carvers do it?  I would love to see these pumpkins in person.

 

And, finally, here is an Elvis pumpkin using another unique technique – carving away all the outer skin and using what’s left as an artist’s medium to create a sculpture with depth as well as detail.

 This one gets the ElvisBlog award for the best Elvis pumpkin of 2012.

 

Now, just for fun, here is a four-way tie for the worst.

 

I can’t resist showing the strangest picture that comes up when you Google Elvis pumpkin — some jerk in an ill-fitting Elvis jumpsuit cutting a pumpkin with a chain saw.

 

Check out the belly showing below the too-small shirt.  And the pumpkin is lop-sided and discolored.  This is just wrong in so many ways.

 

Here’s something that’s just right.

NEWS FLASH:   Here is the winner of the EPE Elvis Pumpkin Carving Contest:

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Top 10 Elvis Songs — A Contrarian View

A few years ago, my friend Alan Hanson listed Elvis Presley’s 20 Greatest Recordings on his Elvis-History-Blog.   This past August, another Elvis-blogger-buddy Troy Yeary presented his picks for the top 100 Elvis songs on his Mystery Train Elvis blog.  I noticed only two songs were on both of their top 10 – “Jailhouse Rock” and “Reconsider Baby.”  These two guys are genuine Elvis fans and they really know their stuff, but their opinions differed greatly.

So, I thought about what songs would be on my Elvis Top 10 list.  Rather than trying to make a subjective analysis, my list would just be my favorites.  My personal prejudices would certainly show up.  I grew up in the late fifties and strongly believe Elvis made his best music in the years before going in the Army.  I really don’t care for much of Elvis’ music from the seventies – not really rock and roll, too many horns and fancy arrangements.  And, I have become a great blues fan for the past twenty years, so I have sought out Elvis’ blues offerings over his career and made a playlist out of them.  And finally, I have listened to some Elvis hits so many times that I’ve grown tired of them.

With all that explained, here are the selections for my personal Top 10 Elvis songs

#10:    I Was The One

This song has been a favorite since I was a teenager in the late 50s.  We had lots of parties, and we played records and danced to them for hours.  We’d stack up seven or eight 45s on those little record players.  When the last 45 dropped down and finished playing, we would pick up the whole stack and flip them over.  So, in addition to listening “Heartbreak Hotel,” we would also slow dance to the flip side, “I Was The One.”  I remember getting close and lovey with girls while dancing to this song, an important prequel to the make-out sessions that followed later.  To this day, whenever I hear ‘I Was The One,” I get all warm and fuzzy.

#9:    Santa Claus Is Back In Town

Like most fans, I pull out the CDs of Elvis Christmas songs every December.  There is one song that always stands out for me, “Santa Claus is Back in Town.”  I’m so glad the Christmas season gives me a chance each year to reconnect with this song.  I just love it.

 

#8:    Reconsider Baby

Elvis and Boots Randolph performing “Reconsider Baby” at Pearle Harbor, Hawaii, March 25, 1961

I have always liked this song no matter which artist was singing it.  But my special affection for it began in 2004 during the “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concert at Elvis Week.  I was a gofer for all the singers and players that night, and I got to sit off to stage right with Boots Randolph before he went on for his segment of the show.  He was so nice and friendly, and I couldn’t believe he talked so much to a nobody like me.  Then he went on stage to perform three songs, including “Reconsider Baby.”  Although he was 77 years old, Boots absolutely knocked out the audience with his soulful sax wailing, and he was rewarded with a huge standing ovation.  It was electrifying.  Boots died three years later, but Elvis’ version of the song carries on.  Now, whenever I hear “Reconsider Baby” by Elvis, I flash back to that wonderful evening.

 

#7:    I Want To Be Free

I have admitted that I’ve loved blues music over the last twenty years, so my Elvis top ten list is slanted toward his blues offerings.  The next time you watch Jailhouse Rock , really listen to “I Want To Be Free.”  Maybe it will grow on you like it has on me. Normally, I would never think of the Jordanaires as a group that would fit in a blues song, but they did a great job here.  Of course, Elvis did too, showing off that wonderful vocal range he had.

 

#6:    Steamroller Blues:

Like I said, I don’t care for much of the Elvis’ music from the 70s, but this song from 1972 is an exception.  Elvis never recorded “Steamroller Blues” in the studio, but who can forget him singing it in Aloha From Hawaii?   You’ve got to love a song with lyrics like, “Well, I’m a cement mixer, a churning urn of burning funk,” and “I’m gonna’ inject your soul with some sweet rock ‘n roll and shoot you full of rhythm and blues.”  Elvis at his baaadest.

 

#5:    I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water

This is the other exception to my indifference for Elvis’s 70s music.  Elvis recorded “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water” in 1970, and a short version of it was included on the album Elvis Country.  But, the version I like is on the 1996 CD A Hundred Years From Now.  It goes on for five minutes and sounds just like what it is – a free-wheeling jam session.  You can’t possibly listen to this song without getting revved up.

 

#4:    Lawdy Miss Clawdy

I have been a fan of this song ever since Lloyd Price released it in the mid-fifties.  I liked Elvis’ version on his first album, Elvis Presley, and I liked his unplugged version during the ’68 Comeback Special even more.  But what really turned me on was watching Elvis nail “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” on the theatrical showing of the restored Elvis On Tour.  In fact, when the song began, there was a noticeable stirring among the theater audience, so I wasn’t the only one it got to.  Kudos to Glen D. Hardin for an outstanding piano part on the song.

#3:    Tryin’ To Get To You

Elvis recorded this song at Sun Records in 1955, but it was first released on the RCA album Elvis Presley in 1956.  Later that year, it was released as a single, but it did not chart.  However, it must have been a favorite of Elvis’ because he sang it during the filming of the ’68 Comeback Special.  Unfortunately, it was left on the cutting-room floor.  Only a few lucky folks like me who own the bootleg album The Burbank Sessions have heard this terrific raw version of “Tryin’ To Get To You.”  I can’t believe they edited it out of the special.

 

#2:    (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care

I have mentioned this song numerous times on ElvisBlog as a big favorite.  Why it was never released as a single is a mystery to me.  You will remember “Baby, I Don’t Care” as the song Elvis sang during the swimming pool scene in Jailhouse Rock.  Some people consider the dance sequence with the movie’s title song as the forerunner to the modern music video, but I think it’s a tie.  Same thing goes for “Baby, I Don’t Care.”

#1: Like A Baby

 

If you thought my other selections were a little strange, this one should blow your mind.    Do you even know this song?  You should if you listen to the 1960 album Elvis Is Back.  This album is on just about everybody’s top 5 Elvis album list.  It is rated his best album by many, including me.  The reason it’s so good is because it contains a number of blues songs (including “Reconsider Baby” mentioned above).  For many years “Like A Baby” was my favorite Elvis blues song, but after thinking about it for this article, I’ve decided it really is my favorite Elvis song, period.

Like they say, opinions are like a** holes; everybody’s got one.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my choices.  If you strongly disagree, please comment below.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Songs About Elvis

Three weeks ago, when I was doing research for the article “Elvis Has Left The Building,” I learned something about Wikipedia.  If you type Songs About Elvis in the search box, it comes up with a list of 112 songs.  About half of them were by people or groups I had never heard of, but some of the familiar names have songs with interesting lyrics.  Here is a sampling.

He Was the King – Neil Young

Neil Young wrote this song with many verses that traced Elvis’ entire life as an entertainer.  Except for the reference to pills in one verse, I found it to be the best lyrics in the group.  Unfortunately, it appeared on one of Young’s least popular albums, Prairie Wind.

 

Back To Tupelo – Mark Knopfler

You may know Mark Knopfler as the front man of the group Dire Straits.  His ode to Elvis song appeared on his solo album Shangri La.

 

 

 

(619) 239-KING – Mojo Nixon

Most of Mojo Nixon’s songs are raunchy and funny, but he played it pretty straight on this CD single release.

 

Black Velvet – Alannah Myles

I never listened to the lyrics of this big hit closely enough to realize they were about Elvis.

 

Disgraceland – Alice Cooper

This song was included on his Dragontown album.  I expected the lyrics to be disturbing, and they were.  Here is the only verse worth including.

 

Elvis – Sister Hazel

I thought this was a woman, but it’s a five-man band.  Their song is more about a velvet Elvis painting than Elvis himself, and it appeared on their Fortress album.

 

Boy From Tupelo – Emmylou Harris

This soulful song tells of a spurned lover going away and disappearing like the buffalo, Elvis, and the five and dime stores.  Harris included it on her album Red Dirt Girl.

 

Elvis and I – Denis Leary

I never knew he was a singer as well as a comedian.  I never knew he spelled his name Denis.  I also couldn’t find a picture of the album Other Songs D-K that this one came from.

 

 

 

Elvis and Andy — Confederate Railroad

There are probably plenty of Elvis fans who also love Andy Griffith and the Mayberry gang.  Confederate Railroad celebrates one of them on this song from their album Notorious.

 

Elvis Has Left the Building – Jerry Reed

Elvis recorded four songs Jerry Reed wrote, including the hits “Guitar Man” and “U.S. Male.”  Reed also had a hit in 1967 with a song about Elvis, “Tupelo Mississippi Flash.”  He wrote a second Elvis song and sang it with other country stars on the album Old Dogs.

 

Elvis on Velvet – Stray Cats

The Stray Cats patterned their music after the Rockabilly sound of the early Elvis Records.  They also released this single about him.

 

 

I Saw Mr. Presley Tip-toeing Through the Tulips – Tiny Tim

Fortunately, the lyrics of this song are better than the artwork on the Tiny Tim album where it appeared.

 

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Who Is This Guy?

Look at this picture for a moment and try to guess who it is.  Maybe a young Leonard Nimoy?  Maybe a bad guy in a movie you saw recently?

The answer may surprise you.  It’s Elvis.  Or, at least it’s supposed to be, but it doesn’t look much like him, does it?  Here’s what’s confusing:

This an original ticket for “ELVIS -  Aloha From Hawaii,” the concert broadcast around the world on January 14, 1973   The ticket was the latest addition to the Image Gallery on the official Elvis Insiders’ website, so it we assum it’s the real deal.  The guy on the left is definitely Elvis.  But, the guy on the right sure doesn’t look like him.

It may be difficult to see, but under the pink ELVIS, it does say “Aloha from Hawaii – Via Satellite.”  At the bottom left, it says the concert was a benefit for the KUI LEE Cancer Fund.  Above that, it says the concert was at the Honolulu International Convention Center.

There’s one other interesting thing about the ticket.  Look at the time of the concert – 1:00 A.M.  At first, I assumed that was so the show would be seen during primetime for folks back in the mainland.  But then I did some research.  The sixty-minute live concert, broadcast by satellite on December 14, went only to countries in the Pacific: Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, South Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and a few other small nations in the Far East.  The next day, the concert was rebroadcast to twenty-eight countries in Europe.

However, Americans did not see the show until almost two months later on April 4, 1973 on NBC.  The telecast was expanded to ninety minutes with additional footage of Elvis’ arrival in Honolulu added for the opening sequence.  Also, Elvis had recorded four extra songs after the audience had left the Convention Center.  These were edited into the program in a format that would later be called a music video.

 

This is the schedule for the production of “Aloha from Hawaii.”  There are some technical terms and abbreviations on it, but you can pretty much figure out what’s going on.  Elvis had dinner at 8:30 and went to make-up and wardrobe at 11:30.  There was a warm-up act and audience shots until 12:30 A.M. when Elvis came on stage and performed for an hour.

 

And this is what he performed.  The website where I found it doesn’t say if it written by Elvis, but he usually worked out concert playlists himself.

So, “ELVIS – Aloha from Hawaii” was a really big event in Elvis’ history.  It was watched by more than one billion people.  It represented a big break-through in satellite broadcast technology.  It was produced on a budget of $2.5 million.

 

Editor’s note:  Thanks to alert reader David, the ticket mystery has been solved.  He states in the comment below:

“I believe the other photo on the Aloha From Hawaii ticket is Kui Lee, the songwriter who died of cancer and who wrote, I’ll Remember You, and who the concert is dedicated to and the proceeds were to go to the cancer fund in his memory.”

And this is from Wikipedia:

Kuiokalani Lee (July 31, 1932 – December 3, 1966) was a singer-songwriter, and the 1960s golden boy artist of Hawaii. Lee achieved international fame when Don Ho began performing and recording Lee’s compositions, with Ho promoting Lee as the songwriter for a new generation of Hawaiian music.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.