Friday, August 1, 2008

Special moments with FTD 5

It's around 9 PM, October 29, 1976. Elvis Presley walks down the stairs from his bedroom at Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee. He's still tired, having finished another tour just two days ago.

At the end of the stairs he nearly trips on some heavy cables running from the den at the back of the house, just behind the kitchen, to the big RCA mobile recording truck parked outside.

"Goddamn," he mumbles before heading into the den, today known as the Jungle Room.

Elvis is a troubled man and feels his life is spinning out of control. His relationship with Linda Thompson is not going well and is sure to end in the very near future, of that he's certain.

Also, he's heard new rumours about the book his longtime friend Red West is planning to write together Sonny West and Dave Hebler in bitterness after being fired in July. He has tried to talk them out of it, has even offered each of them $50,000, but they have turned him down flat.

"Worried about that book? I don't think so," he says to himself, but those closest to him know better. Elvis is frightened, angry and hurt.

He enters the den that for the second time that year has been turned into a recording studio. All the walls have been draped with heavy blankets to dampen the acoustics and the Polynesian-style furniture removed.

In the room, he politely greets his musicians who have been waiting patiently for him to emerge from his bedroom. He sits down and is handed the lyrics for the first song from producer Felton Jarvis.

"This is the one I talked to you about before," Felton Jarvis tells him. You know the one written specifically for you by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice, the one called "It's Easy For You."

Elvis looks absentmindedly at the lyrics sheet.

"Yeah, I remember," he finally tells Jarvis after having collected his thoughts. "Let’s hear the demo."

Felton Jarvis nods and returns to the mixing table that stands close to the wall with the little waterfall, which in honour of the day has been turned off by engineer Mike Moran. He presses a button and soon the pleasant baritone-voice of Webber fills the room, "You may not mind that it's over, but I have a different point of view…"

At first Elvis looks non-committed. But it's soon evident that he's deeply moved by the song as he seems to gaze at some far off place at the same time as his eyes begin to moisturise.

After the ending, he blinks a couple of times to chase the moisture away, looks down at the lyrics and recites a line from the song, "I had a wife, and I have children, I threw them all away."

As the musicians hit a couple of notes to check their instruments Elvis adds, "I get carried away very easily. Emotional son of a bitch."

For a while they all look at Elvis, sensing his attraction to the song and his troubled soul. Then, as Elvis slips on his headphones, Felton Jarvis discretely clears his throat and says, "OK, we’re rolling. Take one."

What follows is an amazing performance by Elvis, almost autobiographical, where he sings about the loss of his love and the world that is crumbling around him. To one and all, it's obvious that Elvis is suffering, and that everything is coming apart. Emotional stuff, indeed.

3 comments:

MĂ„rtenbrother said...

Great writing!

Staffan said...

I agree, great stuff! Well done, bro!

John Burrows said...

Great post about one of my favourite songs