Elvis Presley :: Blue Moon (Sun Session)

“I was thinking that night about Elvis, the day he died. Just a country boy that combed his hair, and put on a shirt his mother made and went on the air.   And he shook it like a chorus girl. And he shook it like a Harlem queen. He shook it like a midnight rambler, baby, like you never seen.” – Gillian Welch (from Time The Revelator)

Like Gillian Welch, above, I too was thinking about Elvis—whose 33rd death anniversary was last week (August 16, 1977). As entertainers go they come no more iconic than Presley; which, really, is always a double-edged sword. For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, my peers and I were bombarded with the media/merchandising flood of post-death Elvis; much of it capitalizing on Presley’s final days. For many years most of what I knew of the man was culled from grocery store “Elvis Lives”, magazine rack, lore and late-night talk show jokes, coupled with the images of jumpsuits, sunglasses and karate moves. While I could certainly appreciate the kitsch factor, at the time Presley seemed more a bloated clown figure from the previous decade than a seminal rock & roll instigator.

It wasn’t until sometime during college that I finally got it and was able to get past the facade and really hear the music for what it was. My aunt loved his gospel records and I remember as a kid her describing Elvis’s voice as “honey-throated.” Years later I finally understood what she meant.

Here is an old favorite; the spectral “Blue Moon” found on Elvis’s Sun Studio Sessions.   Haunting.

MP3: Elvis Presley :: Blue Moon (Sun Session)

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9 thoughts on “Elvis Presley :: Blue Moon (Sun Session)

  1. I agree, I was just going into college when he died, and the next several years for me were filled with the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Clash, Joy Division then later the Replacements, Husker Du, the Minutemen, the Effigies, etc. I always knew the Sun Sessions were great, but for me at the time that’s pretty much where it began and ended, followed by stupid movies and throwaway crap cash-in songs (thanks, Colonel!). Later, like you, I got it, my moment of clarity coming from listening to From Elvis in Memphis, stopped in my tracks by “Long Black Limousine”. That whole album still gives me the chills. (I often wonder what would’ve happened had Elvis continued to work with someone who challenged hi, like Chips Moman.) True, there was some schlock to come in the 70’s, but even then there were moments of pure brilliance. Your aunt was not wrong, his gospel recordings were amazing, you could tell that’s what he really wanted to be singing, if he could, if they would let him. Take away his movie soundtracks, and his catalogue is filled with so many defining moments. To anyone who still doesn’t “get it”, that’s cool, but I’d recommend reading Peter Guralnicks beautiful two volume bio, and then go back and listen to the Sun Sessions, the late 60’s Memphis sessions, the gospel music, and rethink the man Dylan called the “incendiary musical firebrand loner”. Sorry for going on so long, thanks for everything you do–your blog is greatly appreciated.

  2. @max – Yeah , that “From Elvis in Memphis” record is just insanely great. Was the last time he recorded w/out the Colonel’s direct oversight (I think).

  3. I had his first album, and the first greatest hits album. Great music, but then I’d watch those horrible movies on Saturday afternoon TV, and I couldn’t understand why anyone cared about the music. Then I saw Jailhouse Rock- the jailhouse dance scene and “Lady, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about” helped, and then the Sun recordings were finally released on one album. I got it then, and the next revelation was seeing the 1968 Christmas Special. 1967- The Summer Of Love, 1968- Black Leather Elvis! The shlock and kitsch didn’t matter anymore.

    Great blog, thanks.

  4. I grew up listening to Elvis. My parents forced me to listen to the oldies (especially my dad who loved the likes of Elvis, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Righteous Brothers) and I remember stealing the inserts of the Elvis CDs just because he was such a good looking guy. I really didn’t want to like him because of the fat-bloated-Elvis image that you mentioned, but now that I’m an adult, I accept my love of most things Elvis and how influential he was.

    Awesome post

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