Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Special moments with FTD 10

You can't tell by looking at the little shabby building situated in one of Memphis' poorest neighborhoods, but on the inside of its walls history is in the making. Of course, it's hard to see anything at all, as sunrise is still three hours away.

In the cluttered orange and black studio known as American, a recording session with Elvis Presley is coming to an end. Right at this moment he's hard at work getting the lyrics down to a song that the producer and owner of the studio Chips Moman has urged him to take a shot at.

"I've got this song that Mark James wrote. We had a little record out on it, and nothing ever happened with it, but I really think it's a hit song," he told Elvis about half an hour ago and then played him "Suspicious Minds."

Elvis listened to it, and at first wasn't too sure of it. But after some encouragement from his foreman Joe Esposito, he said, "Yeah, man, I like it. I want to record it."

Working with exactly the same arrangement as the original, Elvis has just mistimed his vocals on the first take, leading to some colorful language from behind the baffle serving as a vocal booth.

"Somebody direct this god damn session," one of the musicians jokes.

Elvis clears his throat and piano player Bobby Wood senses him looking at his direction. Clad in white shirt and trousers, and still in good physical shape from the workout of last years TV Special, Elvis looks lean and handsome. But also totally focused.

Bobby understands that he wants him to sing along to help prevent Elvis from repeating the mistake as he rehearses his lines. They've worked that way before during the session.

"Would I still see suspicion in your eyes," Bobby Wood starts to sing and then Elvis falls in.

"So, if an old friend I know, stops by to say hello, would I still ..." Elvis again hesitates while singing the phrase that is causing him trouble.

"Ah, you just gotta wait a little bit to sing it," Bobby Wood advises.

"Yeah." Elvis nods his head as Bobby demonstrates by playing the piano and singing together with Elvis once again.

Then drummer Gene Chrisman decides to help out, and soon the other musicians join in, as Chips Moman steers them toward the right groove. By now everybody in the studio knows that this is the song.

Do you want to listen to this historical occasion? Then set the time machine for the early hours of January 23, 1969, by playing track number four on FTD's Memphis Sessions.

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