Elvis revamps his show

Inspired by a recent eBay auction of Elvis’ handwritten rehearsals set list from August 1974, Thomas has a posted another creative piece over on his Elvis Today Blog. This is a must-read:

“The Handwritten Las Vegas Rehearsal Set List” — Elvis Today Blog

Sony’s Follow That Dream collectors label for Elvis fans documented the rehearsals on the 2-CD set From Sunset to Vegas. The unique opening show of this engagement is one of two concerts that appear on FTD’s 2-CD Nevada Nights.

“The Twelfth Of Never” and “Softly, As I Leave You” from the August 16, 1974, rehearsal first appeared on 1995’s Walk A Mile In My Shoes.

I always find it a little eerie while listening to “Softly” in particular to think that Elvis would pass away exactly three years later.

He felt himself start to die, and he took his notepad from the side of the bed, and he wrote, ‘Softly, I will leave you, softly. For my heart would break, if you should wake, and see me go…'” –From “Softly As I Leave You,” Elvis Presley version, August 16, 1974

19 thoughts on “Elvis revamps his show

  1. I was at a show at the tail end of Elvis’s season and it may have been a closing night where he first performed (to my ears) Softly As I Leave You and it was a cappella in spoken voice without background music and, in my opinion, so much more powerful than the next season’s version of Sean N. singing lead and Elvis doing the narrative. I am checking my tapes, and I hope I recorded that show and if so more to come.

    Ian Fraser

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  2. Troy

    I am at the office right how, but I will check my audio tapes. I do believe that 9/3 show is correct and you have pointed me to the date I should be looking for. I would go to Elvis shows and different times but as often as not picked closing night shows expecting something out of the ordinary to happen…like the night Lamar and company rolled out a bed on stage while Elvis was singing and tried to get him to lie dwon (exhausted). Ian

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    • Hey Ian, thanks again! The 9/3 show is the one with the bed on the stage, so looks like we’re on the right track. If it turns out you don’t have a tape, at least you can get ahold of the FTD. Good thinking going to the closing shows. It seems that his opening and closing shows were the most unique.

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  3. When you have a chance, how many shows of Elvis did you see. You will find my review of Elvis’s opening night show 7-31-69 and attendance at the press conference etc in EIN PIERS, FEEC and ken Sharp’s 1969 book. And after seeing some 60 plus shows was at Elvis’s open casket in Memphis with Sue McCasland and others. What a journey!

    Regards,

    Ian

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    • Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to see Elvis. I was only two-years-old when he passed away.

      Instead, I have to experience concerts vicariously through the memories of fellow fans like you, or through listening and watching what was documented in audio and/or video.

      I thought your name sounded familiar! I read your items in Sharp’s Elvis: Vegas ’69 book.

      That must have been really something, to have seen so much. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

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  4. One of the last things that my paternal grandmother bought me was a Canada only release of a white vinyl 45 that had Softly as I leave you on the b side – it was the first official release of this song.

    I always loved to hear Elvis speak, but the story he tells about the song is just a story to enhance the dramatic effect and not the tale of the song’s origin.

    So in a way, it also combines a big of tall tale telling and showmanship, in addition to being a beautiful and touching performance – made all the more significant for me, since my grandmother died a few months later of heart failure on August 10, 1980

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    • Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Though, it would’ve been pretty funny if the songwriter had ever attended one of the shows. After that intro and doing the song, Elvis could have said something like, “If I’m not mistaken, the guy that wrote that song is in the audience tonight. Glad to see you’re doing better!”

      Thanks for sharing the story about your grandmother. I have that record as well, though it is the standard black vinyl version.

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  5. I will tell you, after so many shows that I was fortunate to see, Elvis so often wore his heart on his sleeve, whether it was in the song during the new introductions of I’ve Lost You, American Trilogy, What Now My Love, It’s Midnight and Just Pretend that stand out in my memory, but in some of the sensitive moments where he would just open up and speak his mind. Unfortunately the critics second guessed his openness as a distraction to the show and attributed them to indugence, Elvis’s conversation with the audience was personal and as for me sitting in the audience I felt privileged to have this one sided “chat” with Elvis. As most of you know, Elvis spoke very little in his show as he repelled through his repotoire. When he broke away and spoke of his love for family, karate and laughed about past experience’s on the road and on movie sets, it was something special and for me a gift of being a guest in the showroom.

    Ian

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    • As an after-the-fact listener, I definitely tend to gravitate towards shows where he talks and interacts more (say, August 1969 or August 1970) versus the ones where he’s all business (like 1972, 1973). It just adds another dimension.

      Thanks for sharing your stories, Ian. I love reading them!

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  6. When Elvis returned to Vegas and told an abbreviated story of “How I got started in the business” it was great to hear Elvis just talk to the audience and as he got more comfortable, he would cut up and goof around. But as he had to shorten the length of his shows, much of the ad lib discussion was eliminated. I was sorry to see eliminated, the sit down guitar part of his show that he maintained in ’69 and Feb ’70. He would sit down on his proctor’s stool, take out the electric guitar and talk a bit and then run through “Baby what you Want Me to Do?” or “Runaway” or “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”. On a few occasions, Elvis would say “I think I will play the piano and then break out with the “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”. Every now and then Elvis would talk about his career and tell stories about how he fell in the water filming the Hawaiian Wedding Song and even more interesting his ’74 stories of his love for Karate. There were times when Elvis performed, it was like sitting in his living room, but regretably as the years went on, there was less and less of the spontaneity of Elvis being Elvis as he put on show after show in a tight package of 65-75 minutes. It was unfortunate that sometimes he would be freestyling and he called out a song that the band didn’t know well enough and so Elvis would truncate the song and go back to the set list.For me the deviations were the best and there is no question that being in the audience, especially in Vegas and Tahoe, there was an intimate connection between the man and his audience, treated as friends who came to enjoy Elvis in his world. He really did aspire to make everyone happy and that he did over and over again.

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  7. Troy

    Do you have access to the 2/18 show where the 3 guys got on the stage and Elvis flipped, had to have his Dad go on stage to calm him down and after which he put on one helluva closing show?

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    • There’s no official release on this as of yet, but I’ve read about it a few times and heard the part in question on YouTube. It’s funny to think that it is only about a month after Aloha.

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  8. About the february 18 show… except of his remarks afterwards and a few screams in the audience, the show is pretty standard.

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  9. I guess that is one way to look at it…but what makes the show unique and a standout is Elvis’s fury and profanity at someone who would “attack him” and interrupt his show and so much so that he had to be calmed down by his father who was at the show…and this took some time. It needs to be remembered that Elvis was getting death threats and so something like this spiked the tension…and yes Elvis finished the show but as I recall, with power and energy in order to release the tension and anger.

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