Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Girl of My Best Friend

The Girl of My Best Friend " is a song written by Sam Bobrick and Beverly Ross and first released in 1959 by Charlie Blackwell as the B-side to his single "Choppin' Mountains". It was made famous as a cover by Elvis Presley with The Jordanaires in 1960. It has also been covered by Ral Donner in 1960 (#19 US), Johnny Burnette in 1962 and by Bryan Ferry for his 1993 covers album Taxi. A dance hall version was also released as a single in the 1990 by Tippa Irie and Peter Spence on GT's Records and Mango." From

While the Charlie Blackwell version is cited as the first version of The Girl of My Best Friend 
Colonel Snow tells us " Another version was recorded in Nov. 1959 by Marty Vine (Epic 9382).". But Colonel, other sources are saying the Marty Vine version came out April 1960 - same time as the Elvis version. However the Marty Vine version stands out because it's a lot more upbeat than either the Blackwell or Presley version - take a listen here - nice graphics too. This is one of the sources of dating the Vine song

According to this site "Listening to the “Elvis Is Back” FTD we can hear how this song evolved and in the end how Elvis is more comfortable with the slower tempo after trying various rhythms even snapping his fingers as he tries to ride with the faster tempo."

Here's Elvis with take 2, 4, 5, 6, - where take 4 and 5 starts with a faster tempo but breaks down.

Colonel Snow
From whom the promotion copy graphic below was sourced.

And the Elvis version...

And a  later well known version 1961 by  Ral Donner & The Starfires

Charlie Blackwell

Marty Vine

The Songwriters

Sam Bobrick  (born July 24, 1932) is an American author, playwright, television writer, and lyricist.

"After a three year, nine months and twenty seven day stint in the U.S. Air Force, Bobrick attended the University of Illinois where he graduated with a degree in Journalism. He began his career writing for the popular children's show Captain Kangaroo. He also wrote for such shows as The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Flintstones, Get Smart, The Kraft Music Hall, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He created the short-lived syndicated TV series Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which was resurrected by NBC as the long-running hit show Saved By The Bell. He has won three Writers Guild of America Awards for his television work and was nominated for an Emmy. He has also written several movies and later quit writing for film and television in 1990." Read more about his plays here

"Bobrick co-wrote the song The Girl of My Best Friend with Beverly Ross which was recorded by Elvis Presley and many other recording artists throughout the years, including Bryan Ferry. Another song, It Will Never Be Over For Me was recorded by the iconic Los Lobos. He also wrote two satirical albums for MAD magazine, Mad Twists Rock n Roll and Fink Along With Mad. His most recent music endeavor is a CD entitled "Totally Twisted Country" that he co-wrote with his son Joey Bobrick for the band The Cow Pies." His website is

Beverly Ross  "(born 1939) is an American songwriter and musician who co-wrote several successful pop songs in the 1950s and 1960s, including "Dim, Dim The Lights", "Lollipop" — which she also recorded, as one half of Ronald & Ruby — "The Girl of My Best Friend", "Remember Then", and "Judy's Turn to Cry".

She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and as a child moved with her family to Lakewood, New Jersey where she learned the piano. While at school, she began writing poetry and song lyrics.

While living in The Bronx as a teenager, she began canvassing writers at the Brill Building with some of her songs. The first to be recorded was "Dim, Dim The Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere)", co-written with black songwriter Julius Dixson (or Dixon), which was recorded by Bill Haley and His Comets in 1954 and became a crossover hit in both the pop chart and R&B chart the following year. The song was the first rock and roll song recorded by a white singer to reach the R&B chart, and was hailed by Alan Freed as "the grand daddy song of rock n’ roll".

In 1958 she and Dixson wrote one of her most lasting songs, "Lollipop". When Dixson explained that he was late for a songwriting session because his daughter had gotten a lollipop stuck in her hair, Ross began writing the song, and later recorded a demo version with Dixson's neighbor, teenager Ronald Gumm (or Gumps). Dixson, who owned the master and had produced the demo, then agreed to let RCA Records release it as by "Ronald and Ruby". The pair's version rose up the chart reaching no.20, but when it was learned that Ronald and Ruby were an inter-racial duo, television appearances that had been previously booked got cancelled. Cover versions by The Chordettes (no.2 in the US) and The Mudlarks (no.2 in the UK) rose higher up the charts, and the song became an international hit.

While working at the Brill Building with Jeff Barry in the late 1950s, she was recruited by Jean Aberbach to
work for the publishing company Hill & Range. She co-wrote the song "Dixieland Rock" with Aaron Schroeder, using the pseudonym Rachel Frank. The song was recorded by Elvis Presley for his 1958 movie King Creole and released on the soundtrack album. She also wrote "The Girl of My Best Friend" with Sam Bobrick. The song was first released as the B-side of a single by Charlie Blackwell, before being covered in 1960 by Presley. At Hill & Range she met aspiring songwriter Phil Spector, and began collaborating with him on songs and demo recordings."
For more Beverley Ross and her association with Carole king etc - read more her on Wiki

Beverley Ross's illustrated website is

Lollipop - Ronald and Ruby

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Thrill of Your Love - Carl McVoy

The Thrill of Your Love (featured on Elvis is Back 1960) was written by Stan Kesler who also wrote or co-wrote I Forgot to Remember to Forget / I'm  Left, You're Right, She's Gone / Playing for Keeps / If I'm a Fool for Loving You.

Colonel Snow mentioned that this song was originally sang by Carl McVoy 1958 under the title A Woman's Love (The Thrill of Your Love) and here it is -

Carl McVoy (January 1931 – January 3, 1992) was an American pianist.
"McVoy was cousin to the younger Jerry Lee Lewis. He had been to New York with his father, who had been a minister there. McVoy got hooked on boogie-woogie while in New York, which he subsequently brought back to Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Jerry Lee Lewis would visit his older cousin and get him to show him things on the piano.
Plucked from the construction industry by Ray Harris, McVoy recorded "You Are My Sunshine" at Sun Records, which was the single that launched Hi Records. McVoy recorded a number of other sides at Sun in 1957 and 1958, most which have remained unissued.
He subsequently went back to Hi as pianist with The Bill Black Combo, but quit in the mid 1960s and returned to the construction industry forming his own company Carmack Construction. He died at the age of 61 early in 1992." Source

"Stan Kesler (11 August 1928 , Abbeville , Mississippi ) From 1954 he was a studio musician ( steel guitar and bass ) and composer at Sam Phillips record label Sun Records, and contributed to the emergence of the "Sun Sounds."

Kesler (sometimes Kessler written) began his musical career in the Clyde Leoppard country band Snearly Ranch Boys, Buddy Holobaugh (guitar), Stan Kesler (steel guitar), Jan Ledbetter (bass), Smokey Joe Baugh (Piano / Vocal ) and William "Bill" Taylor (vocals) and Johnny Bernero passed (drums). Scotty Moore.

Stan Kesler's first recording session as a steel guitarist for Sun took place on 25 October 1954 for Maggie Sue Wimberleys How Long / Daydreams Come True (# 229) along with Quinton Claunch (guitar), Marcus Van Story (bass) and Bill Cantrell instead (fiddle). On 17 February 1955 was followed by the music of Charlie Feathers' song Peepin 'Eyes. Feathers again sought the services of Kesler, as on 1 November 1955 Defrost Your Heart / Wedding Gown of White (published in January 1956), was recorded. As Roy Orbison's support group The Teen Kings unlike Orbison got a record deal."
Read More here

Here's Elvis with Thrill of Your Love

Monday, 1 October 2012

Love Letters

Love Letters is a 1945 popular song with music by Victor Young and lyrics by Edward Heyman. The song appeared, without lyrics, in the movie of the same name, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song for 1945.

Presley recorded the song twice, once in 1966 for single release and again in June 1970.

I was aware back in the 60's that Presley's version followed the Ketty Lester version with its sparse piano work but wasn't aware of the earlier version by Dick Haymes!

This is the Dick Haymes orchestral version from 1945.

Who was Dick Haymes?
"Richard Benjamin "Dick" Haymes (September 13, 1918 – March 28, 1980) was an actor and singer. He was one of the most popular male vocalists of the 1940s and early 1950s. He was the older brother of Bob Haymes, who was an actor, television host, and songwriter. Haymes was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1918.[1][2] His mother, whom Haymes predeceased, was Irish-born Marguerite Haymes (1894–1987), a well-known vocal coach and instructor. Dick Haymes became a vocalist in a number of big bands, worked in Hollywood, on radio, and in films throughout the 1940s/1950s." Read More here

Here's Ketty Lester's version from 1962

Ketty Lester (born Revoyda Frierson, August 16, 1934) " is an American singer and actress, who is best known for her 1962 hit single, "Love Letters", which reached the Top 5 of the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The daughter of a farmer, she was born in Hope, Arkansas, one of a family of 15 children, and first sang in her church and school choirs. She won a scholarship to study music at San Francisco State College, and in the early 1950s began performing under the name Ketty Lester in the city's Purple Onion club. She later appeared as a contestant on the game show You Bet Your Life, and toured Europe as a singer with Cab Calloway's orchestra." Read More here

The Songwriters

Victor Young (Composer)

"Young was born in Chicago on 8 August 1900 into a very musical family, his father being a member of one Joseph Sheehan’s touring Opera company. The young Victor began playing violin at the age of six, and was sent over to Poland when he was ten to stay with his grandfather and study at Warsaw Imperial Conservatory, achieving the Diploma of Merit. He studied the piano with Isidor Philipp of the Paris Conservatory. While still a teenager he embarked on a career as a concert violinist with the Warsaw Philharmonic under Julius Wertheim before returning to Chicago in 1920 to join the orchestra at Central Park Casino. He then went to Los Angeles to join his Polish fiancée, finding employment first as a fiddler in impresario Sid Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre Orchestra then going on to be appointed concert-master for Paramount-Publix Theatres.

In 1930 Chicago bandleader and radio-star Isham Jones commissioned Young to write a ballad instrumental of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," which had been played, up until then, as an up-tempo number. Young slowed it down and played the melody as a gorgeous romantic violin solo which inspired Mitchell Parish to write lyrics for what then became one of the great love songs of all time." Read More here

Edward Heyman (lyricist)
Edward Heyman (March 14, 1907 – October 16, 1981) "was an American musician and lyricist, best known for his compositions "Body and Soul", "When I Fall in Love", and "For Sentimental Reasons". He also contributed many songs for films.

Heyman studied at the University of Michigan where he had an early start on his career writing college musicals. After graduating from college Heyman moved back to New York City where he started working with a number of experienced musicians like Victor Young ("When I Fall in Love"), Dana Suesse ("You Ought to Be in Pictures") and Johnny Green ("Body and Soul", "Out of Nowhere", "I Cover the Waterfront", and "Easy Come, Easy Go").
From 1939 to 1954, Heyman contributed songs to film scores including That Girl From Paris, Curly Top, Kissing Bandit, Delightfully Dangerous and Northwest Outpost.
Arguably Heyman's biggest hit is his composition "Body and Soul", written in 1930, often recorded (in 1939 by Coleman Hawkins and since by many others), which frequently crops up in films, most recently in 2002's Catch Me If You Can. Heyman also wrote "Through the Years", "For Sentimental Reasons", "Blame It on My Youth" (with Oscar Levant), "Love Letters", "Blue Star" (theme of the television Series Medic), "The Wonder of You", "Boo-Hoo", "Bluebird of Happiness", and "You're Mine, You".
"Out of Nowhere" by Johnny Greene and Edward Heyman became a standard piece of gypsy swing, a musical style established by Django Reinhardt in the 1930s. Gypsy swing remains popular to this day, for additional information see Django Reinhardt and Rosenberg Trio." Read More here

This is Elvis's version from 1966

The 1970 version by Elvis

Thursday, 27 September 2012

How Do You Think I Feel?

I first heard this as a teenager in 1965 when I bought an old EP (Extended Play) disc with Long Tall Sally, How's the World Treating You, First in Line and How Do You Think I Feel.

1965 was the year of riff based pop songs like Ticket to Ride, Mr Tambourine Man etc. and so didn't sound quite so out of place with all the new music coming out. However it was an old release that surfaced in a sale in the local record shop.

The song was written by Wayne Walker and Webb Pierce. David Neale (link to his site in the topbar menu) suggests the first version was by Red Sovine in April 1954, followed closely in November by Jimmy Rogers Snow. 

There doesn't seem to be a version on youtube by Red Sovine (although there are other tracks by him), but here's Jimmy Rogers Snow's version -

This Red Sovine with a different song - Juke Joint Johnny ...

Red Sovine
"Born Woodrow Wilson Sovine on July 17, 1918 in Charleston, WV, Red Sovine made his first attempt at a musical career in his teens along with Johnnie Bailes (of the Bailes Brothers) as members of Jim Pike's Carolina Tar Heels and then as the "Singing Sailors".  Red then opted for a factory job in Elanor, WV working his way into mid-management while still doing a program on local radio.

In 1948, the Bailes Brothers encouraged Red to join them in Shreveport, LA  After a brief stint at KWKH in Shreveport, Hank Williams lent a helping hand in securing a slot at WFSA in Montgomery, AL later that same year and a recording contract with MGM.

In 1949, Red returned to Shreveport and joined the Louisiana Hayride replacing Hank Williams.  In 1952, fellow Hayride star Webb Pierce asked Red to come to Nashville to front his band which led to a recording contract with Decca in 1954 and to appearances on the Grand Ole Opry." Read more Here

Jimmy Rogers Snow
"Born 1936, son of country star Hank Snow, Jimmie Rodgers Snow appeared to have everything going his way. With famous friends like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, Jimmie began to rocket his way to stardom on the RCA label.

But Jimmie soon learned that there was something that wealth and fame cannot provide is lasting peace. In front of his parents house, Jimmie Rodgers Snow committed his life to Christ and soon answered the call to preach.

One of his early sermons was recently featured in a PBS documentary about Rock and Roll. The show featured a clip which is on display at the the rock and roll hall of fame of an early sermon by Jimmie Snow denouncing the evils of Rock and Roll." Source -

Jimmy Rogers Snow with Elvis   Meridian, Mississippi May 26  1955
Source of photo

Here's Elvis's version - from 1956

The Songwriters

"Born Wayne Paul Walker, December 13, 1925, Quapaw, Oklahoma, Died January 2, 1979, Nashville, Tennessee. Wayne Walker was a prolific songwriter, with no less than 526 titles in the BMI database, 23 of which have won BMI awards. He was less successful as a singer, though he made some fine recordings, both in the rockabilly and the country field. Born in Oklahoma, Walker was raised in Kilgore, Texas, before moving to Shreveport, Louisiana. He worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman, fire escape salesman, car salesman, and roofer while getting his music career off the ground. He appeared on the Louisiana Hayride, where he met Tillman Franks and Webb Pierce and with their encouragement he was soon placing his songs with local artists. With Pierce he wrote the song "How Do You Think I Feel", which was first recorded by Red Sovine in early 1954 (Decca 29068), but the best known version is of course by Elvis Presley, on his second LP. " Read more here

There does seem to be a version by Wayne Walker himself but i can't find it on youtube although there there is a youtube by that name it seems to be compilation of some of his other songs and doesn't include How Do You Think I Feel.

Webb Pierce
"Webb Michael Pierce (August 8, 1921 – February 24, 1991) was one of the most popular American honky tonk vocalists of the 1950s, charting more number one hits than any other country artist during the decade.
His biggest hit was "In the Jailhouse Now," which charted for 37 weeks in 1955, 21 of them at number one. Pierce also charted number one for several weeks' each with his recordings of "Slowly" (1954), "Love, Love, Love" (1955), "I Don't Care" (1955), "There Stands the Glass" (1953), "More and More" (1954), "I Ain't Never" (1959), and his first number one "Wondering," which stayed at the top spot for four of its 27 weeks' charting in 1952.
For many, Pierce, with his flamboyant Nudie suits and twin silver dollar-lined convertibles, became the most recognizable face of country music of the era and its excesses.[1] Pierce was a one-time member of the Grand Ole Opry and was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame." Read more here

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Hot Dog - Young Jessie

I was an Elvis fan at school during the 60's, ironically during the period when he was less popular owing to the Beatles. In April 1964, when the Beatles were No 1 with Can't Buy Me Love, I became an Elvis fan, although I still liked the Beatles and all the new music of the mid 60's. I was away at boarding school in Shropshire (UK) and the weekly 'treat' was a film show in the main hall every Saturday. Mostly old films like Fred Astaire, George Formby or war films. On this occasion we had something more up to date -  Elvis's Loving You. Even so it was 7 years old by 1964 - the latest Elvis film at the time was Love in Las Vegas. I didn't know much about Elvis at the time but the film grabbed me, the youthful Elvis and the lively music. Hot Dog was one of the tracks that grabbed me, but there were so many good songs in that film, Mean Woman Blues, Teddy Bear etc. A hobby at the time was reading Elvis Monthly and learning about some of the background to some of the early Elvis songs or listening to Mike Raven's R & B show on the radio. Hence my interest in this song.

I discovered from David Neale's site that Hot Dog was not specially written for the film but had been written Leiber and Stoller. David tells us 'Young Jessie recorded this number in 1956 for the Modern label, but it was not issued until 1982 on the Ace label.'

Here is the Young Jessie version on Youtube. It has the more R & B feel of the Coasters (for whom he did a brief stint).

Who was Young Jessie? 

Wikipedia tells us

Obediah Donnell "Obie" Jessie (born December 28, 1936, Lincoln Manor, Dallas, Texas), is an African American R&B and jazz singer and songwriter. He recorded as Young Jessie in the 1950s and 1960s, and was known for his solo career, work with The Flairs and a brief stint in The Coasters. More recently he has performed and recorded jazz as Obie Jessie.

Jessie's father was a cook but had no musical background. His mother, Malinda (née Harris) was very musical, playing piano and other instruments; she had a brief musical career under the name Plunky Harris. On his mother's side of the family, Jessie was also kin to blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson.

In 1946, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he began studying music, and formed a vocal group, The Debonaires, which also included Richard Berry. The group recorded Jessie's song, "I Had A Love", in 1953, and the single was released under the name of The Hollywood Blue Jays. They then renamed themselves as The Flairs, and won a recording contract with Modern Records. However, in 1954 Jessie signed a solo contract with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and began recording as "Young Jessie". He said: "[The name] came about because I sounded like I was forty, like ancient for a boy of 17. I had this deep baritone voice and the Biharis wanted me to get close to the rock 'n' roll market. I could have called myself Obie Jessie but I didn't want people to think I was old."

In 1955 he wrote and recorded the single "Mary Lou," later covered by Ronnie Hawkins in 1959, Steve Miller Band in 1973, Bob Seger in 1976, Gene Clark in 1977 and The Oblivians in 1997. In 1956, he released "Hit Git And Split", co-written with Buck Ram and recorded in New York City with guitarist Mickey Baker. He also briefly recorded with The Coasters in 1957 (including harmony vocals on "Searchin'" and "Young Blood"), and appeared on records by The Crescendos and Johnny Morisette, as well as being a writer for other artists' recordings, including The Chargers and Jimmy Norman. He released the single "Shuffle In the Gravel"/"Make Believe", again produced by Leiber and Stoller, on the Atco label in 1957."

Read More here
Here's Young Jessie's Mary Lou

And The Flairs - She Wants to Rock

And finally, of course Elvis's version of Hot Dog

Hot Dog
Words & Music Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller 

Hot dog, you say you're really coming back
Hot dog, I'm waiting at the railway track
Hot dog, you say you're coming home for good
Hot dog, I'm going to keep knocking on wood
And baby, I can hardly wait
I'm gonna meet you at the gate, hot dog
I fell in love with you and then you went away
But now you're coming home to stay
Hot dog, soon everything will be all right
Hot dog, we're gonna have a ball tonight
I've got a pocketful of dimes
It's gonna be just like old times, hot dog
You went away and every day was misery
But now you're coming back to me
Hot dog, my heart is gonna go insane
Hot dog, when you come walking off the train
Oh how lonely I have been
But when that Santa Fe pulls in
Hot dog, baby, baby, hot dog

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Stay Away - based on Greensleeves.

The song Stay Away was recorded for (but not used) for the 26th Elvis movie Stay Away Joe in 1968. It was written by Sid Tepper and Roy C Bennett but based on the tune on the English folk tune Greensleeves and not to be confused with the title song - Stay Away Joe which has a more hill-billy feel. Stay away was used however for the B side of US Male.

Whether the 'racing country guitars' do the traditional melody justice is a good question of course! Robert Mathew-Walker, in  Elvis Presley - A Study in Music, felt that " the words and the arrangement do not come up to the haunting quality of the original "

Still the film itself and the music marked an important break from the usual formula Presley films and the original song is interesting.

"Greensleeves" is a traditional English folk song and tune, a ground either of the form called a romanesca or of its slight variant, the passamezzo antico (see below for definitions) 

It is often thought that Greensleeves was written by King Henry V111 but -

"There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn. Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry's attempts to seduce her and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer's love "cast me off discourteously". However, Henry did not compose "Greensleeves", which is probably Elizabethan in origin and is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after his death.

A broadside ballad by this name was registered at the London Stationer's Company in September 1580,by Richard Jones, as "A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves". Six more ballads followed in less than a year, one on the same day, 3 September 1580 ("Ye Ladie Greene Sleeves answere to Donkyn hir frende" by Edward White), then on 15 and 18 September (by Henry Carr and again by White), 14 December (Richard Jones again), 13 February 1581 (Wiliam Elderton), and August 1581 (White's third contribution, "Greene Sleeves is worne awaie, Yellow Sleeves Comme to decaie, Blacke Sleeves I holde in despite, But White Sleeves is my delighte". It then appears in the surviving A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584) as A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves. To the new tune of Green Sleeves.
The tune is found in several late-16th-century and early 17th-century sources, such as Ballet's MS Lute Book and Het Luitboek van Thysius, as well as various manuscripts preserved in the Cambridge University libraries.

Lyrical Interpretation

One possible interpretation of the lyrics is that Lady Green Sleeves was a promiscuous young woman and perhaps a prostitute.At the time, the word "green" had sexual connotations, most notably in the phrase "a green gown", a reference to the way that grass stains might be seen on a woman's dress if she had engaged in sexual intercourse out-of-doors.

An alternative explanation is that Lady Green Sleeves was, through her costume, incorrectly assumed to be immoral. Her "discourteous" rejection of the singer's advances supports the contention that she is not.
In Nevill Coghill's translation of The Canterbury Tales, he explains that "green [for Chaucer’s age] was the colour of lightness in love. This is echoed in 'Greensleeves is my delight' and elsewhere."

Source -


In Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, written around 1602, the character Mistress Ford refers twice without any explanation to the tune of "Greensleeves" and Falstaff later exclaims:

'Let the sky rain potatoes! Let it thunder to the tune of 'Greensleeves'!

These allusions indicate that the song was already well known at that time.

Musical Structure
"A ground or an ostinato is (derived from Italian: "stubborn", compare English: 'obstinate') is a motif or phrase, which is persistently repeated in the same musical voice, usually at the same pitch. The best known ostinato based piece may be Ravel's Boléro." Read more here -

"A Romanesca (originating in Spain) was a song form popular in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was most popular with Italian composers of the early Baroque period. A romanesca is composed of a sequence of four chords with a simple, repeating bass, which provide the groundwork for variations and improvisation. A famous example is the refrain of "Greensleeves" (whose verses follow the progression of the passamezzo antico, of which the romanesca is an alteration). The romanesca is usually in triple meter and its soprano formula (melody) resembles that of the passamezzo antico but a third higher." Read more here -

"The passamezzo antico was a ground bass or chord progression popular during the Italian Renaissance and known throughout Europe in the 16th century. The progression is a variant of the double tonic: its major mode variant is known as the passamezzo moderno.

The sequence consists of two phrases as follows: (For an explanation of this notation see Chord progression)

In the key of A minor this gives:
Read More here -

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Tender feeling - (based on Shenandoah)

Back in February 1965, I was still at school. my father, knowing I liked Elvis bought me two Elvis albums. Elvis Gold records Vol 2 (UK versions) and the newly released Kissin' Cousins soundtrack.

I was blown away with Gold records, most of which I hadn't heard before being a new fan, especially the rawness and power of tracks like Jailhouse Rock and One Night. Kissin' Cousins, although pleasant, paled in comparison. However one track in particular stood out - Tender Feeling. The melody was already familiar to me as based on Shenandoah.

The Kissin' Cousins album was recorded in October 1963 but the film wasn't released until March 1964, a month before I had become a fan, and it didn't reach the cinema my town until Christmas 1964, so the sounds were even more out of sync with the current and changing music of that time than when recorded. Non the less I saw the film and had the album!

Although I recognised the tune as Shenandoah, I never knew the background to the song Shenandoah until now.

The Presley song was written by - or adapted by with new lyrics by the Giant Baum and Kaye songwriting team who penned some many of his film songs and also Devil in Disguise.

The new lyrics retain none of the variant socio-geographic context of Shenandoah but is of course highly romantic and fits the plot of the film.

Tender Feeling follows an AABA song pattern where A = a verse and B = the Bridge or middle / contrasting section. Although lost on the film soundtrack, the song does have a gentle folk-rock feel in the instrumentation. The original song seems to be an AAA pattern - ie verses without a bridge section, which is one of the musical / lyrical differences between Tender Feeling and Shenandoah.

" Oh Shenandoah (also called simply Shenandoah, or Across the Wide Missouri) is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating at least to the early 19th century. The song is number 324 in the Roud Folk Song Index, but is not listed amongst the Child Ballads.

The lyrics may tell the story of a roving trader in love with the daughter of an Indian chief; in this interpretation, the rover tells the chief of his intent to take the girl with him far to the west, across the Missouri River. Other interpretations tell of a pioneer's nostalgia for the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia, or of a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War, dreaming of his country home in Virginia. The provenance of the song is unclear. The song is also associated with escaped slaves. They were said to sing the song in gratitude because the river allowed their scent to be lost.

Shenandoah was first printed as part of William L. Alden's article "Sailor Songs", in the July 1882 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine. The song had become popular as a sea chanty with sailors by the 1880s. Alfred Mason Williams' 1895 Studies in Folk-song and Popular Poetry called it a "good specimen of a bowline chant". In his 1931 book on sea and river chanteys entitled Capstan Bars, David Bone wrote that "Oh Shenandoah" originated as a river chanty or shanty and then became popular with sea-going crews in the early 19th century.

The U.S. congressman for Missouri Ike Skelton noted in 2005 that local artist George Caleb Bingham immortalized the jolly flatboatmen who plied the Missouri River in the early 19th century; these same flatboatmen were known for their chanties, including the lovely "Oh Shenandoah". This boatmen's song found its way down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to the American clipper ships, and thus around the world." Source

The lyrics to the varying versions of Shenandoah can be viewed by following the above Wikipedia link - Oh Shenandoah. As per the folk / blues oral traditions, lyrics and melodies weren't etched in stone back then before the commercialisation of popular music and varied place to place, time to time.

Colonel Snow, on the Elvis Forum tells us that the earliest recorded version is by Albert Campbell & Henry Burr (Victor 18327) - October 1917. I couldn't find a Youtube of that but here's Paul Robeson's version.

The Shenandoah Valley history "“Everything had a thrifty look,” wrote a Confederate soldier in the Shenandoah Valley in 1861. “The horses and cattle were fat and sleek; the large barns were overflowing with the gathered crops; the houses looked comfortable; and the fences were in splendid order. It was a truly a land of milk and honey.” Read more here

Shenandoah Valley and river

Moonlight on the Shenandoah, engraving by J.D. Woodward

From this site on the Shenandoah river - 

As for Tender Feeling - the Kissin' Cousin's screenplay was set in the Great Smoky Mountain range
seen here -