This week I wished that I could travel back in time, setting the date to the evening of September 7, 1957. The location was a given: Radio Recorders in Hollywood. This is what would take place, had it been possible:
Standing by the Christmas tree that producer Steve Sholes has arranged to have in the studio, I'll glance into the mix room and see Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller at work, asked to come up with something not sounding like a Christmas standard.
A short while later I'll notice the songwriting duo emerge and approach Elvis. Running through the song with Stoller at the piano and Leiber singing in his hoarse way, Elvis smiles approvingly and says, "Okay, let's make it."
He then knocks the song off in seven takes, singing about Santa arriving in a big black Cadillac instead of a reindeer, in that tough bluesy way. It's the highlight of the whole time travel trip. And, judging by the smiles on their faces, it's a great moment for Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as well.
This post is dedicated to Jerry Leiber who passed away earlier this week, on August 22.