ELVIS TODAY: “The beauty of fractures”

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ELVIS TODAY: “The beauty of fractures”

By Mahnuel Muñoz

Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi is a Japanese art, dating back to the 15th century, consisting of fixing fractures in ceramics with resin varnish, mixed with gold, silver or platinum powder. It is part of a philosophy that states that breaks and repairs are part of the history of an object and must be shown and not hidden, and also do so to beautify it, revealing its transformation and history. It is the case that old pieces repaired by this method are valued more than pieces that were never broken.

TODAY” could be considered an example of this artistic discipline applied to the king’s music. When the album was published, in May 1975, it was poorly appreciated by the press (much more interested in the singer’s personal problems) and by the public, who despite selling out each concert seemed to appreciate more yet another interpretation of “Hound Dog” than the new recordings, loaded with honest and emotional content, genuine windows opened to access the heart studded with wounds of the king.The recording sessions took place in RCA’s Studio C in Hollywood, between March 10 and 12, 1975. The production, as usual, was Felton Jarvis, and the roster of musicians included James Burton, John Wilkinson and Charlie Hodge on guitars, Duke Bardwell on bass (although his tracks were removed in the final mix and replaced by those of Mike Leech), Ronnie Tutt on drums, Glenn Hardin and Tony Brown on piano, David Briggs and Greg Gordon on clavinet and the vocal background of the group Voice. After the recording, guitar tracks were added (Chip Young, Johnny Christopher, Weldon Myrick), bass (the aforementioned Mike Leech and Norbert Putnam), violin (Buddy Spicher), percussion (Farrell Morris), vocal choir (The Holladays) and string and wind arrangements.


Although the title alludes to the present, the content is full of bittersweet looks at a simpler and happier musical and personal past, with nods to early rock and roll, gospel that was always a refuge for the artist and a superb group. of country prayers of heartbreak, in a perfect example of art imitating Elvis’s life at that time, marked by nostalgia, illness, boredom and disconnection with reality.


It is a composition by Jerry Chesnut, author of other songs that caught the attention of the king at that time. An energetic piece with sound and content that allude to the rock and roll of the 50s, and seems tailor-made for Jerry Lee Lewis; In fact, Glenn Hardin‘s fiery piano stands out in the arrangement. Elvis completes a dedicated and credible performance, with high notes in his voice that take us back to the days of Sun Records: without a doubt one of his best rock songs of the 70s. It is a shame that the song did not mark the identity of the album, leaving it as the only concession to the genre within the repertoire, but as we know, at the time Elvis was more comfortable with dark ballads and country laments.

The recording was released in April 1975 as a single with aspirations of success, with “Mr. Songman” as the B-side. Sadly, the single ran aground at number 35 in the United States and number 29 in the United Kingdom.


One of Elvis’s favorites, as demonstrated by the fact that he maintained it with some regularity in his concert repertoire.

This simple and beautiful love song is a composition by Don McLean, author of the famous anthem “American Pie.” McLean released the song on his first album, “Tapestry” (1970), and from that moment it became almost a standard, with many versions among which Shirley Bassey, Bobby Goldsboro, Johnny Mathis and Bobby Vinton stand out, although the The greatest commercial success was achieved by Perry Como in 1973. Elvis created, in my opinion, the most beautiful version of all, taking elements from different previous readings and providing the unique touch of his deep and emotional voice. The king dedicated the song to one of his romantic partners, Sheila Ryan, who was present in the recording studio.


A work by Don Reid, member of the group The Statler Brothers, known mainly for their classic “Flowers On The Wall” (1965). In it, the protagonist confesses to us a series of love disappointments that he has been able to overcome gracefully, but stops at the one he had with the woman who gives the title its name and from which he has not been able to recover. Elvis and his group provide a more lively and energetic character than that offered by the original version and create a strong contrast between the message and the envelope that contains it.


A devastating piece, composed by Jerry Chesnut, which perhaps constitutes the most forgettable contribution of the album, due to its monotonous melody and unthinkable lyrics in the restrictive climate of political correctness of the present. On the other hand, the theme takes on a completely new dimension if we consider that Elvis could project his own feelings of abandonment and emptiness onto the character of the “loveless woman.”


This piece by Joe Morris, a gospel-scented serenade, was a hit for singer Faye Adams in 1953, the year Elvis mustered up the courage and a few dollars to record his first album with “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” It is possible to think that Presley knew and enjoyed the subject since then, because his version is very faithful to Adams’s.


It is a composition by Troy Seals that singer Charlie Rich had released on his album “The Silver Fox” (1974).

This is, in my opinion, the most significant song on the album. Elvis felt that his life was faithfully reflected in the sad and resigned lyrics that deal with a man whose life is devastated by loneliness and heartbreak, and he tries in vain to drown his bitterness in alcohol. It’s really moving to hear Elvis sing it in a vulnerable and restrained way, particularly when he gets to the short spoken fragment, which seems directed at Priscilla.

Elvis performs a version very similar to Rich’s, but, as usual, the richness of the voice and the intensity of his interpretation enhance the song considerably, turning it into an intense emotional experience for the listener who has minimal notions of the situation. Elvis’ staff at the time. The singer himself listened to the playback of the master more than thirty times after recording, recreating himself in its caustic beauty and seeking, almost in a masochistic way, to rekindle his immense pain.


This classic country tune had been a hit for the female group The Pointer Sisters in 1974. It is a story of romantic breakup and subsequent resentment that in its original version is presented as a light and resigned lament. Although Elvis and his group make a musically very similar version, Elvis’s interpretation, which seeks to match the notes of the singer of The Pointer Sisters, turns into a furious, even aggressive reproach. A very revealing moment.


This carefree love affair was a worldwide success for its author, Billy Swan, in 1974. The original version was produced by Chip Young, who recorded it in the studio he ran in Murfreesboro. Other musicians who were part of Elvis’ entourage worked on Swan’s version: Mike Leech on bass and Reggie Young, Johnny Christopher and Dennis Linde on guitars. Despite the insistence of Felton Jarvis, Elvis was initially reluctant to record the song, but he immediately set to the task and managed to complete it in a single impressive take, very similar to the original song, with an energetic performance and a nostalgic ending. “bump’n’grind” in the manner of “I Got A Woman”.


This is a composition by Greg Gordon, member of The Imperials and later of the Voice. Its catchy melody accompanies lyrics that are once again about sentimental breakup and how memories return through faces, places and songs. Elvis offers a mournful and fluid performance, elegantly going through the vocal inflections that the song demands. After its publication as part of the album, a single was released with this piece and “Pieces Of My Life” on the b side, making it one of Elvis’s best singles at that time, but ironically one of the worst performing in sales charts, with 65th place in the United States (SEE NOTE 1)



This composition by Claude Putnam Jr. had captivated Elvis during a trip home in his own coach at the end of November 1966. The program that his friend George Klein presented on the WHBQ station was playing on the radio. They played the hit version recorded by Tom Jones and Elvis was shocked. He stopped the vehicle and ordered to call George to put it back on several times. The song had been offered to Elvis some time ago by Red West, but the king rejected it as “too country.” It was later considered for inclusion in his 1969 Las Vegas comeback concert, but ultimately wouldn’t pass down Elvis’ throat until the “TODAY” recording sessions. Presley’s version has an overwhelming and somber beauty and is an almost funereal ending to the album. “TODAY” is the king’s last album recorded in a conventional studio, and a full stop before the final paragraph of an artistic canon full of timeless gems that are the pride and joy of its creators and the millions of people who enjoy it. to this day.



“TODAY” was a resounding commercial failure on the popular music charts in the United States and the United Kingdom, ranking at number 57 and 48, respectively.

In 1975, far from glossing the milestones of a career that laid the foundations for rock and roll as a mass phenomenon, trivialities such as the artist’s weight gain and the very fact of having reached forty prevailed in the assessment of Elvis Presley. years, almost wishing that, like James Dean, he had lived quickly, that he had died young and left a beautiful corpse; The matter seemed like a kind of popular trial in which Elvis would be accused of not having fulfilled the illusions of eternal youth and movie rebellion that had been created by an audience always hungry for tailor-made heroes. Perhaps the reasons for the cruelty had deeper roots, extending to the depths of society’s frustration with the failure of the American dream.

Elvis was aware of the comments that were circulating and suffered in stupor, not understanding why people paid with such evil for the tireless dedication with which he worked every day.

Despite the extravagances, excesses and tragedies, art always found a crack through which to filter its light, allowing it to create beauty in the studio and on stage; In fact, in 1975 some of the richest and most powerful concerts of the king’s career took place, something that can be verified thanks to the generous amount of official and unofficial recordings available on the market.

With the perspective that the years and the learning obtained give us, we can give this work the value it deserves as a piece of kintsugi, a beautiful artistic manifestation embedded in the personal drama of the performer and embellished by the wounds that said drama inflicted on him.


In the United Kingdom there was no equivalent contemporary single, and in September 1975, as a result of the success of the compilation “The Elvis Presley Sun Collection” (HY 1001, 16th place on the charts, ) a single was offered (RCA 2601) with three songs from that period: “Blue Moon”, “You’re A Heartbreaker” and “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone”. In November a single (RCA 2635) with “Green Green Grass Of Home” and “Thinking About You” hit stores, which climbed to number 29.

Article written and provided by Mahnuel Muñoz https://www.facebook.com/mahnuelmunozoficial


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