The first time I heard "I'm Leavin'" was on a 90 minutes cassette a classmate of mine gave me in the early 80's where he'd recorded songs from the Elvis Aron Presley box set. Kind of a "best of," if you'd like.
From then on, the song has always been a favorite of mine, with its haunting quality and passionate performance by Elvis. That's why it was especially interesting reading an interview with Michael Jarrett, the guy who wrote the song, in the latest The Man And His Music magazine.
Turns out he was fooling around with a guitar in the shower (good echo in there, obviously) and started singing the la la la's. Then the first verse "just happened...and I realised I was singing about this girl I'd left behind in Portland." Great stuff.
When Michael Jarrett first heard Elvis version of "I'm Leavin'" on the radio he stayed up all night listening, as they played the song once an hour. "A tremendous thrill," as he puts it.
Also, it must have been exciting for him to see Elvis singing the song in 1971 at the Hilton in Las Vegas: "He looked right at me and smiled and winked at me as he was singing my song. I got chills from head to toe."
Well, I still get chills listening to "I'm Leavin'" and I'd like to think Jarrett would be pleased to know that, too. He really comes across as a nice guy in the interview. By the way, he also wrote "I'll Be Home On Christmas Day." Did you know that one was originally titled "It Happens Every Year?"