Saturday, May 29, 2021

Writing I’m Leavin’ For The King

Michael Jarrett wrote "I'm Leavin'" which was recorded by Elvis in 1971.

After publishing my latest blog post about “I’m Leavin’” I emailed Michael Jarrett who wrote the song, telling him it was 50 years since Elvis recorded it. I thought his reaction was so interesting that I asked his permission to use it on my blog.  

50 years! Wow! I can still remember writing this song while sitting on a tiny stool in a glass-covered shower (water off, of course). The natural sound in that environment was; lots of reverb. :-) There was barely room for me and my guitar in that small space and I was enjoying the heavy reverb sound and was just fooling around with a few things when the La La La's came out in place of lyrics that had not yet popped into my head. 

As it turned out, I didn't have to replace the La La's with lyrics. My writing partner, Sonny Charles, convinced me that the La La's could actually be the "hook" of the song. So we continued to compose the rest of the piece together that day.

Sonny was very important in the writing of "I'm Leavin'". He didn't contribute all that much regarding the music and lyrics as much as his suggestion to me about the build up to the words, "I'm Leavin". He suggested that we sing the build up twice before the resolve into, "I'm Leavin''." I believe that suggestion really made the song happen. Some things we never forget, eh? 

Reading this I had to ask Michael Jarrett another question. Did he also remember the first time he heard Elvis' recorded version of the song and what he felt at that moment? This is his answer: 

Yes, I'll always remember. Sonny Charles and I were playing chess one late afternoon at his Laurel Canyon home when Sonny's girlfriend came running up the stairs into his house excitedly saying, "It's on the radio, It's on the radio!" Sonny asked, "What is?" Judy said, "It's Elvis singing I'm Leavin’!". 

When we got down the stairs to her car, the car door was still wide open and there blaring on her car radio was Elvis' golden voice singing our song. Judy turned to me and said, "Elvis is singing the song just like you singing like him!!” To preface her statement, I must tell you that when making the demo of "I'm Leavin'" to give to Joe Esposito to take to Elvis, I sang the song as much like Elvis as I could to try and peak his interest.

The L.A. radio station was KRLA. I also must confess that; I stayed up most of that night listening to our song being played once an hour as Elvis' latest release. It's difficult to really convey in words how I felt that wonderful day other than to say, I was extremely elated!! 

I’d like to thank Michael Jarrett for sharing his memories of writing “I’m Leavin’” and hearing Elvis version for the first time. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

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