JAILHOUSE ROCK – behind the scenes of Elvis Presley’s third movie (Part.5)By Marius Ogieglo
A song that is extremely important in the context of the entire film. Vince Everett, created by Presley (I will write more about the main character later in the text), performs it in his most important and key moments.
He sings it for the first time in a prison cell – awkwardly accompanying himself on the guitar (photo on the left), which attracts the attention and interest of his cellmate, former country music star Hunk Houghton, and soon after, after being released, he presents it in Florita nightclub, where he meets music promoter and future manager, Peggy Van Alden.
The audience hears “Young And Beautiful” for the last time during the great, touching finale.
Each of the above performances was significantly different from each other and, similarly to the song “Loving You” a few months earlier, required the recording of the mentioned ballad in several completely different arrangements. ” The film required three different versions, the recording of which required twenty-two takes ,” Collin Escott explained behind the scenes of the song’s creation in the brochure included with the “Elvis. Close Up.” ” At one point, however, Elvis suggested that the song’s tempo made him feel uncomfortable, and its intimate mood prompted him to joke that the finished song would definitely not make it past Johnson’s office anyway. “
The institution mentioned by Elvis, headed by Erik Johanson, played the role of a censor in the film industry, ensuring that no scandalous content or expressions (including vulgar language) were shown on the screen.
After the marathon of “Young and Beutiful” lasting over two hours, it should be emphasized that in addition to the twenty-two takes mentioned by Collin Escott (only the CD version was recorded), ten others were also played that day – three so-called prison version and seven described as “Florita club version“, the session was over.
Recordings continued the next day. Although it would be more precise to write – it was intended to continue the next day because the session did not go according to the plan from the moment it began.
The first controversy aroused the choice of the studio where the next songs were to be written. In order to ” save some time and money “, MGM management decided to move the recordings to their film hall, the so-called MGM Soundstage. Thus, forcing Elvis to work in the least comfortable conditions for him.
However, the final straw was broken by an event that took place a few dozen minutes after entering the recording hall.
“Well, Elvis did what he usually did to warm up, to get in the right mood for work ,” George Klein remembered. “ He sat down at the piano and started playing gospel tunes. Around ten o’clock he was joined by members of The Jordanaires, who sang spirituals with him. “The next hours passed and Elvis and the members of The Jordanaires continued this extraordinary jam session. ” At noon, everyone was still singing spirituals, and when the lunch break was announced, it turned out that work on the soundtrack had not progressed even a step ,” Klein continued his memories . ” After dinner, when we returned to the soundstage, Elvis walked straight to the piano and started playing another gospel-style song. This time, however, neither Gordon Stoker nor Hugh Jarrett nor any of the other members of The Jordanaires joined him .”
As it soon turned out, the reason for the above behavior was the decision of MGM representatives present in the studio, who decided that if they forbade the quartet members to sing with Elvis, he would finally focus on recording songs for the film (the downtime so far had cost them a fortune anyway ) .
They realized how wrong they were just a few minutes later when Presley, concerned about the absence of his favorite quartet, called Gordon Stocker. ” What about you? You don’t want to sing spirituals with me anymore? ”, Elvis allegedly asked. “Can I be honest with you?” Stoker replied. ” Of course ,” Elvis said. “ The studio people told us not to sing gospel with you anymore. They want you to focus on the session .”
That last sentence made Elvis furious.
There are several theories about what happened after this exchange, and they differ depending on who tells them.
According to George Klein, Elvis had to make things clear. “ Gordon, who signs your checks? Me or the people at MGM? ”, he reportedly asked a slightly confused Stoker. And when he clearly pointed at Presley, everyone went back to singing gospel. They finished only four hours later, around 5 p.m.
Sam Stocker, in turn, quoted by Jerry Hopkins in the book “Elvis. The King of Rock’n’Roll,” admitted that ” Elvis was furious. However, he didn’t make a scene. When he got angry, he exploded inward. He just left and six or seven of his buddies with him. We didn’t do anything else that day. Elvis didn’t come back .”
However, what resulted from both accounts quoted above was the fact that the second day of work on the soundtrack to the film “Jailhouse Rock” ended in an absolute fiasco. Apart from a few rehearsals of the song “I Want To Be Free“ * , which Keith Flynn mentions on his website, no new material was recorded in the studio.
- * According to Keith Flynn, before leaving the studio, Elvis tried (unfortunately without success) to record the song “I Want To Be Free”. According to the respected author and researcher of Presley’s work, this was suggested by, among others, a recently discovered diary documenting the course of the sessions. The same document also indicated that Elvis was presented with a demo of “Young Hearts” on that day, which was also intended to be included in the soundtrack. Unfortunately, this song was not recorded either.
Information provided by EP Promised Land (Poland), Marius Ogieglo http://www.elvispromisedland.pl/
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