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GI Blues
– See the new Elvis!-
(Part 5)

By Mariusz Ogieglo

Doin’ The Best I Can

There are as many as eleven songs planned for the film. The songs were recorded during two recording sessions, in April and May 1960.

Unfortunately, already a few weeks before the recordings began, it became clear that finding and completing appropriate material would be an extremely difficult task (although it may seem strange to some, because just a few years earlier, the most important authors in the country were even trying to write for Presley ). And all because of the heartless publishing policy pursued by Colonel Parker. Under the contract he concluded with the Hill&Range publishing house, no one other than the above-mentioned company could provide songs for Presley’s sessions. And if one of the composers decided to do it on their own, they had to obtain the appropriate consent from the above-mentioned publishing house and pay the required fee, which sometimes amounted to… up to fifty percent of the rights to the submitted works!

Many authors did not agree to such conditions and simply gave up working for Elvis. Among the first were Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

As a result, none of their submissions – neither “Dog’s Face” nor “Tulsa’s Blues” – were even considered by Parker when considering proposals for the new soundtrack.


Speaking about Leiber and Stoller’s compositions, it must be explained that none of the above titles was written by them specifically for the needs of the comedy being created. Moreover, Mike Stoller’s eldest son, citing his father’s words, even wrote on one of the Internet forums that ” (Mike, author’s note) He has never heard of the song ‘Tulsa’s Blues’ .” He added that ” if this song actually existed, it must have been featured on Hill&Range along with ‘Dog’s Face,’ but someone else wrote it .”

It is believed (and this theory is also confirmed by documents) that the first of the titles was written for the then popular group The Drifters. ” ‘Dog’s Face’ was not written especially for the film, but only presented while compiling the songs for it ,” said the heir to the famous composer’s work.

The new publishing policy was not the only reason for ending the fruitful cooperation of the legendary author-composer team with Elvis.

The decision to leave Presley, or rather Colonel Parker, was accelerated by an unpleasant episode with another, never-realized film project of the famous singer. As history would have it, it was supposed to be a film adaptation of the novel “A Walk Of The Wild Side” by Nelson Algren (a writer who devoted a lot of space in his work to describing the lives of poor Poles in Chicago’s Polish Downtown). “ This is what I want to do. I already have people involved like Eli Kazan, who will produce it, and Budd Schulberg, who will write the script ,” Jerry Leiber recalled in an interview with Ken Sharp of his conversation with Charles Feldman producer Jerry Leiber. ” And I would like you, you and your partner, to compose the music and Elvis Presley to play the main role .”

The excited composer immediately contacted his partner. ” Jerry called me and told me everything ,” said Mike Stoller. “ It gave us chills. We were so excited. We felt we had to share this fantastic news with Jean and Julian (Aberbach, author’s note), the Colonel and Elvis immediately .


However, the initial joy and excitement disappeared immediately after arriving at the Hill&Range headquarters. ” We described the whole situation to them (Jean and Julian Aberbach, author’s note) ,” Jerry Leiber recalled. ” ‘We need to talk to the Colonel about this. Will you wait outside?’ we heard in response. So we left, hoping that the Colonel would be overjoyed. We waited for a while until Jean finally called us in and, adopting his Viennese accent, said, ‘The colonel says if you try to interfere with Elvis’ career again, you won’t get a job in New York, Hollywood, London, or anywhere else in the world. That’s how it was. Right after that, we basically stopped writing for Elvis .”

For the record, it is worth adding that the film “Walk Of The Wild Side”, rejected by Presley’s manager, was finally produced in 1962, and the title song from it received an Oscar nomination in the Best Music/Best Original Song category. The film starred Laurence Harvey, Jane Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck, who a few years later played one of the main roles in the film “Roustabout” alongside Elvis Presley.

The soundtrack to the fifth film starring Elvis Presley was recorded in two recording studios. As a result of a recent agreement between the RCA record company and the musicians’ union, the first recordings were made in RCA’s Hollywood studio located at 6363 Sunset Boulevard (and not in the Radio Recorders building as before). The above agreement assumed that all songs recorded for the RCA label must be recorded in its studio.

In addition, the producers of Paramount Pictures were particularly interested in ensuring that the sessions took place in a modern and versatile studio and with the participation of the best musicians. In Ernst Jorgensen’s book, “Platinum. A Life In Music” you can even read that it was Paramount who demanded to bring guitarist Hilmer J. ‘Tina’ Timbrell, pianist Dudley Brooks and ” known as the best session musician, bassist Ray Siegel “.

In addition to the above-mentioned instrumentalists, the recordings also included former musicians Elvis, Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, as well as Frank Bode (additional drummer) and accordionist Jimmy Haskell.

Vocal accompaniment was provided by The Jordanaires, whose members also played instruments when necessary. So, Neal Matthews played guitar on some songs and Hoyt Hawkins played tambourine.

The beginning of the session was scheduled for April 27, 1960 at nine in the morning.

Information provided by EP Promised Land (Poland), Mariusz Ogieglo.

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