Category Archives: SONGS

JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI PRESENTS MY FAVORITE ELVIS SONGS


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
            Don’t
            A Fool Such As I
            It’s Now Or Never
            Are You Lonesome Tonight?
No More
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
Amazing Grace
American Trilogy
The Impossible Dream
Separate Ways
You Gave Me A Mountain
My Boy
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
 

ELVIS AND THE NATIONAL RECORDING REGISTRY

Last Sunday, an Associated Press story appeared in the entertainment sections of many American newspapers.  It was titled AUDIO ARCHIVES – Library of Congress picks 50 Recordings To Save For Posterity.  There was a list of the 50 selections, which I immediately scanned before reading the article itself.  I wanted to see what recordings from the fifties they included.  There were three:  “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino, and “That’ll Be The Day” by Buddy Holly and The Crickets.

 

I love all three of these songs, and still have the original 45’s of each that I purchased as a teenager.  However, instead of being happy at their selection for this honor, I was annoyed.  Even though I didn’t know what the National Recording Registry was all about, it just seemed like there should be an Elvis song in it.  At that point, I figured I’d better read the article.

 

This quickly revealed that 2006 is the fifth year of these selections, so it figured Elvis certainly had to be in the previous groups.  This prompted a visit to the Library of Congress website for a complete look at the whole National Recording Registry thing.  The Library of Congress has registered recordings since 2002 that are culturally, historically or aesthetically important.  The Librarian of Congress, who makes the selections, certainly thinks it is a big deal.  He proudly states, “The National Recording Registry represents a stunning array of the diversity, humanity and creativity of our sound heritage.”

 

These honored recordings are not limited to just music.  Here’s a sample of some non-musical items:  FDR’s “Fireside Chats,” “Who’s On First “ by Abbott and Costello, the first official trans-Atlantic telephone conversation in 1927, Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have A Dream, and “Casey At The Bat” by DeWolf Hopper, who recited the poem over 10,000 in performances.

 

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library with 126 million items, including 500,000 LP’s, 450,000 78-RPM discs, 200,000 CD’s and 100,000 cassettes.  Now that’s what I call a record collection.

 

And, yes, Elvis is included in the National Recording Registry.  His complete output from the 1954 and 1955 Sun Records recording sessions was honored as a group in the inaugural listing in 2002.  So my initial fear that Elvis didn’t receive the recognition he deserved turned out to be unfounded.

 

Similar recognition to other fifties’ songs has been rather limited.  Besides the titles mentioned above, the only other fifties’ songs honored so far are:  “Earth Angel” by the Penguins, “Roll Over Beethoven” by Chuck Berry, and “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles.  That leaves a lot of great tunes to be honored in future years.  It will probably be a long wait, but someday we should see “Heartbreak Hotel added to the National Recording Register.  If the Library of Congress ever starts a National Video Register, Elvis doing “Hound Dog” on the Milton Berle Show is a cinch to make the inaugural list.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

 

ELVIS REALLY IS EVERYWHERE, PART 2

Elvis International magazine has a section called “Elvis Is Everywhere,” and it is filled with little articles sent in by the readers.  Collectively, these stories show how deeply Elvis is woven into the fabric of our culture.  Even non-fans would have to admit you don’t need to look very hard to find references to Elvis all around us.

 

My most recent experience with this phenomenon came last weekend at a show put on by the Black Watch Pipe and Drum Corps.  This is the marching band of one of the most storied military units in the history of Great Britain.  Two-dozen men, dressed in kilts and all their other regalia, performed about twenty songs with only bagpipes and drums, and it was wonderful.

 

Believe it or not, as the Black Watch marched out of the arena at the end of the program’s first half, they played an Elvis song.  No, it wasn’t “Jailhouse Rock,” “All Shook Up,” or anything like that; it was “Wooden Heart.”  I knew I’d have to do some research on this when I got home, and here’s what I found.

 

The Black Watch’s history of playing the melody goes back many years before Elvis ever recorded the song.  It is a traditional German folk song of unknown origin.  In 1960, it was adapted for Elvis to sing in the movie GI Blues, which is set in Germany.  From that point on, the facts about “Wooden Heart” could provide a lot of questions in an Elvis trivia contest.

 

For example:  What Elvis song went to #1 in England in 1960, but didn’t get released in America until three years later?  For some reason, RCA decided to release “Wooden Heart” as a single in England two months after the movie premiered, but not in the USA.  Sounds like a dumb move to me.

 

Here’s another good trivia question:  What Elvis song was covered by Joe Dowell in 1961 and reached #1 on the charts for him?  While RCA sat on “Wooden Heart,” Shelby Singleton, the savvy owner of Smash Records, released a single of the song by unknown Joe Dowell, and it sold a million copies.

 

And another question:  What 1964 Elvis single reached only #107 in America, but sold over a million copies in West Germany?  I guess the combination of Elvis and a beloved national folk song was a winner over there.

 

“Wooden Heart” is an Elvis trivia-lovers goldmine, providing these additional questions:

            What Elvis song featured a tuba and accordion?

            What Elvis song contains eight lines of the lyrics in German?

            What Elvis song had the re-release of Blue Christmas on the

            flip side?

 

And now, I have my own personal “Wooden Heart” trivia question:

What Elvis song does the famous Black Watch band perform on bagpipes all over the world?

 

Elvis really is everywhere.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold    www.elvisblog.net

ELVIS JUKEBOX RANKINGS

Guess what is Elvis’ most successful record in terms of jukebox play?

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According to the Amusement & Music Operators Association, it is HoundDog/Don’t Be Cruel from 1956, the 3rd biggest jukebox hit of all time.  This trade association of jukebox owners, operators, and suppliers compiled their list back in 1989 (100th anniversary of the jukebox).  They updated it again in 1996, and there were no changes in the top of the rankings.

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So,Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel seems to be permanently locked into the #3 position.  It’s no surprise that this double-sided hit got the most play of all the Elvis records featured on jukeboxes.  Hound Dog stayed at the top of the record charts for twelve weeks, and then Don’t Be Cruel took over the next week.   That’s a long run of popularity during an age when jukeboxes were really big.

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What two songs could possibly beat Elvis?  #2 is the 1979 Bob Seger hit. Old Time Rock & Roll, no doubt helped by Tom Cruise singing it in his underwear in the movie, “Risky Business.”  #1 is Crazy by Patsy Cline.  That song came out in 1962, but I’ll bet you can still find it on some jukeboxes in 2005.  Talk about staying power.  Elvis’ next best finish in the jukebox rankings is All Shook Up at #38.  Seems like it should be higher.

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© 2005  Philip R Arnold