March 15, 2014

Ever wonder why they called him The King?


On June 23, Elvis recorded "If I Can Dream" in several passionate takes. To Binder and Howe [producers of Elvis' 1968 tv comeback special], his performance was so staggering as to seem almost a religious experience. Out on the floor with a hand mike, standing in front of the string section, Elvis fell to his knees. For a moment, he was back at Ellis Auditorium, at the gospel sings of his youth, or maybe down in Tupelo at the Assembly of God church. Howe, having worked with him before, might have anticipated such an immersion. Not everyone was prepared: "The string players sat there with their mouths open. They had never seen anything like this."
But the more astonishing performance came when the producers sent everybody home and Elvis rerecorded the vocal in the dark. Binder sat motionless, afraid to move as Elvis lost himself in the song. Once again, he fell to his knees. But this time, in a fervent act that was equal parts artistry and emotional regression, he assumed a fetal position, writhing on the cement floor. Then, after four takes, he got up and walked into the control room, and Binder played the recording back for him. Elvis sat in rapt attention and asked to hear it again, until Binder had played it some fifteen times. Only then was he satisfied.

From Baby, Let's Play House, Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him.


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