This was as startling a debut record as any ever made, representing every side of Elvis’ musical influences except gospel — rockabilly, blues, R&B, country, and pop were all here in an explosive and seductive combination. Elvis Presley became the first rock & roll album to reach the number one spot on the national charts, and RCA’s first million dollar-earning pop album.
-Bruce Eder (allmusic.com)
Elvis Presley released Heartbreak Hotel January 27th in 1956
“Heartbreak Hotel” is a song recorded by Elvis Presley. It was released as a single on January 27, 1956, Presley’s first on his new record label RCA Victor. His first number-one pop record, “Heartbreak Hotel” topped Billboard‘s Top 100 chart, became his first million-seller, and was the best-selling single of 1956. It was written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton.
Well, Since my baby left me
These opening words set the tone, this is not a happy-song…
I got this record from my aunt when I was about 7 or 8 years old (1973/1974), I couldn’t comprehend the heartache and suffering in the lyrics. I just thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. I still got that record. It is worn and scratched and it’s still the coolest record in the world.
“In the Ghetto” (originally titled “The Vicious Circle“) is a song written by Mac Davis and made famous by Elvis Presley, who had a major comeback hit with it in 1969. It was recorded January 20th 1969 and released in April the same year as a 45 rpm single with “Any Day Now” as the flip side.
It is a narrative of generational poverty: a boy is born to a mother who already has more children than she can feed in the ghetto of Chicago. The boy grows up hungry, steals and fights, purchases a gun and steals a car, attempts to run, but is shot and killed just as his own child is born. The song implies that the newborn will meet the same fate, continuing the cycle of poverty and violence. The feeling of an inescapable circle is created by the structure of the song, with its simple, stark phrasing; by the repetition of the phrase “in the ghetto” as the close of every fourth line; and finally by the repetition of the first verse’s “and his mama cries” just before the beginning and as the close of the last verse. Continue reading “January 20: Elvis Presley recorded In The Ghetto in 1969”→
When I first heard Elvis’ voice I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody; and nobody was going to be my boss. He is the deity supreme of rock & roll religion as it exists in today’s form. Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.
~Bob Dylan (1987)
His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country.
~President Jimmy Carter August 17, 1977
Elvis Presley is a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons. … The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues. … Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of schlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and, yes, a great American.
~Greil Marcus (The Village Voice – Apr 7, 1975)
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Sam Phillips was not just one of the most important producers in rock history. There’s a good argument to be made that he was also one of the most important figures in 20th century American culture.
~Richie Unterberger (allmusic.com)
Please check out the new book:
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll
Written by Peter Guralnick
Rock ‘n’ roll was born in rural Alabama, 1923, in the form of Sam Phillips, the youngest son of a large family living in a remote colony called the Lovelace Community. His father had a gift for farming, which was brought to an end by the Depression. His mother picked guitar and showed the kind of forbearance that allowed her to name her son after the doctor who delivered him drunk and then had to be put to bed himself. And yet from these unprepossessing origins, in 1951 Phillips made what is widely considered to be the first rock ‘n’ roll record, Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston’s ‘Rocket 88’.