Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The First Time Elvis Sang In Public

There is no mistaking it, it's Elvis Presley I'm listening to. But the song doesn't sound the way I'm used to, with Elvis playing the piano and the Jordanaires backing him up.

Yet there is something in the small child's voice that reveals to me who is standing behind the microphone. Because, although he is only ten years old and singing without accompaniment, he makes the Red Foley “weeper” about a boy and his dog his own.

Eleven years later he will record an emotional version of “Old Shep” for his second LP album, at Radio Recorders on September 2, 1956. But the young Elvis I hear now is performing the same song in a talent show at the annual Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy show in Tupelo, on October 3, 1945.

As he finishes the song, I picture him looking up from where he is standing on a chair to reach the microphone, smiling shyly as he hears the audience of several hundred his age applauding enthusiastically. The microphone then follows him down to his parents, clearly picking up the sound of  his mother Gladys talking to him. “I'm so proud of you, son,” she says.

The announcer from the local radio station WELO which is broadcasting the contest, then reveals the winners. Elvis wins fifth place, just like he will state 27 years later, in a 1972 interview done for his last movie Elvis On Tour. The last thing I hear before the recording fades, is the announcer asking all the contestants to once more get on the stage for a group photo.

I look down at the one-of-a-kind audio recorder in my hand. It has just traveled through time, capturing ten minutes of Elvis' life. As it could only make one round-trip journey through time, and only record for ten minutes, I had to choose wisely. Pressing the “play” button to once more listen to Elvis singing for the first time in public, I'm convinced I did.

The imaginary story above is the result of a recent post by Troy Y. over at The Mystery Train Blog titled Choose Your Elvis Adventure: 600 Seconds.


eLifesize said...

Touching and very reminiscent of Elvis.

The Tupelo Channel said...

This is awesome! Have you checked out the site dedicated to his hometown? Here it is: