Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's Still Here

Today I listened to all five takes of "It's Still Here" on the FTD treatment of the Elvis (Fool) album. I did this after reading an article about Elvis' interpretation of Joe Hunter's ballad in a book by Swedish music journalist and music critic Lennart Persson (1951-2009), titled Feber 2–Sånger om kärlek (translated as Fever 2–Songs about love). It was published in 2004.

In the book, Lennart Persson tells the story of 63 of his favorite love songs that he feels deserve to be highlighted, either because they have been forgotten, belittled or simply because they are damn good. Some of the artists he writes about are Jerry Lee Lewis, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, Dusty Springfield, Tom Waits and Elvis Presley. Among other things, he has this to say about Elvis' recording of "It's Still Here:"
He seems unaware that the tape recorder is rolling. He does it again [as he did while recording "I'll Take You Home Again, Katleen"] as if it was only for himself, as if to conjure up his deeply buried emotions. His marriage to Priscilla was in tatters, they were basically already separated, and only six months later she would leave Graceland. Elvis greedily absorbs every self-pitying word from Hunter's slender ballad, as if to prepare himself for the final separation. He handles the grief in what is probably the only way he is capable of, through the music.
And though you said we'd never part
You turned around and broke my heart
The love I had for you so long
Is still here

According to Lennart Persson, "It's Still Here" might very well be one of Elvis most "naked" recordings ever. I share his sentiment, it's an intimate and sensitive performance, conveying feelings of sorrow, loneliness and longing. Highly emotional, and highly recommended.

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