“To @!#?@! with the Hilton Hotel . . . the Showroom, too”

A few weeks ago, I purchased a batch of Follow That Dream CDs, and I’ve been working my way through them. By far, the most interesting is one I’ve been spinning this week.

Closing Night (2004)Closing Night is actually a 2004 release. For reasons that have escaped my memory, I didn’t pick this one up back then.

Maybe it was the poorly Photoshopped cover that turned me off. Though if cover art were a real consideration for me, I fear much of my Elvis collection wouldn’t be here.

Or, maybe I was worried that this notorious show was a train wreck.

More than likely, though, it was probably a budgetary consideration. Though I support FTD, I can’t afford to buy every single release. Instead, I pick and choose.

In any event, I can explain why I finally purchased this CD. Back in July, Elvis super fan Ian Fraser mentioned this show in a comment to a post here on The Mystery Train Blog. His enthusiasm made me want to try out Closing Night.

The Closing Night CD actually contains selections from two September 3, 1973, concerts at the Hilton Hotel’s Showroom in Las Vegas. Tracks 1 through 7 are from the Dinner Show, while tracks 8 through 25 are from the Midnight Show (the actual closing show that Ian mentions in his comments).

It’s definitely an unusual show, but not a train wreck by any means. It’s intriguing to hear Elvis uncharacteristically blowing off steam while on stage. Plus, there are great live versions of “Trouble” and “My Boy,” not to mention “Bridge Over Suspicious Minds” and the spoken word only version of “Softly, As I Leave You.”

What have you been listening to this week?

20 thoughts on ““To @!#?@! with the Hilton Hotel . . . the Showroom, too”

  1. Don’t know if I can talk about this here, but……….haven’t been listening to King this week. In autumn I get all “Great American Songbook”: Sinatra, Robert Goulet, Tony Bennett. However, this particular week it’s been all about “House of Heroes”, a great band out of Columbus, Ohio.

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    • No, you can’t talk about that. You’re off the train, man!

      Just kidding, Wellsy. Which reminds me, another thing I played this week was your “Cool Elvis” playlist. It really lived up to its name. Great job on the sequencing, too. That’s the real art of compiling, getting the songs to fit together right.

      But, anyway, I don’t mind when a comment moves outside of Elvis – especially if it’s from a regular.

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  2. I tell you, making mixed tapes back in the day (or “playlists” these days) it’s a science: first step was song selection. My friends back then would say ‘You don’t use the same song twice?’ But then sequencing was VERY important. The first two or three songs were rockers, then a slow one. The second last song on a ‘side’ had to set up the big closer. That was fun. I was looking at a tape I made in 1993 and I wrapped it up with a rocker, ‘Louie to Frisco’ by George Thorogood, which faded away nicely in to the brief ‘Her Majesty’ by the Beatles which set up the closer, ‘No More’ from “Blue Hawaii”.

    Lately, though, I’ve favoured going chronologically – it’s like a stroll through a person’s career.

    Thanks for the compliments regarding “Cool Elvis”. It did work out pretty well. ‘Course I did have some help – the cat could sing!

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  3. I have been listening to Elvis for a long time but I can’t remember the song “Bridge Over Suspicious Minds”. ??????

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    • As far as I know, Closing Night is the only official CD this song is available on. When the band kicks into “Suspicious Minds,” Elvis sings the lyrics of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to the tune of “Suspicious Minds.” He keeps it up for about a minute or so. It’s pretty funny. Not at the level of 1969’s “Are You Laughing Tonight,” but still a very unique performance.

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  4. I had a mate, long time no see, who actually saw the closing show. He saw Elvis 6 times in that season during what was my mate’s only visit to the America. He said that this show was easily the best of the 6 he attended. He also met Elvis very briefly on another night and on that night stole the plectrum that Elvis was supposed to use on stage. Somebody was walking past with all the plectrums for the band on a silver platter. Somehow Elvis coped but the plectrum always had pride of place in my mate’s living room and it may still be there above the fireplace. The plectrum was fake marble and had the letter E embossed in the middle.

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    • Hey Howard, thanks for commenting. I wonder if your mate knows that particular show is available on CD? I must admit, I had to look up “plectrum.” I’ve never heard that term before to describe a guitar pick. You learn something new every day.

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      • I have not seen him for years. If he is still going he will have it. He is dead keen and of course the show was important to him. He used to be the head man of the Elvis fan club in Glasgow Scotland in the 70s. I will try and look him up on Google. Unfortunately he has a famous name. Robert Maxwell.

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        • Robert Maxwell discovering the book and the blog would be too good to be true. Hope he does. Would not mind seeing the plectrum sorry guitar pick again. For what it is worth he said this about his meeting with Elvis. He was more classically handsome and not as tall as he expected. He also thought Elvis was ill at ease. This was a situation where he had to meet a small group of strangers and it made him uncomfortable. So maybe off stage he was quite shy after all.

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        • What you said about Robert Maxwell meeting Elvis reminds me of a quote from Elvis himself, talking to the audience on the In Person album (live in Vegas, August 1969):

          “If I take time out to drink water, just look at me and say, ‘Is that him? I thought he was bigger than that…squirrelly-looking guy.'”

          As far as him running across your book & blog – it’s definitely possible. The Internet has made the world a much smaller place. There is hope for that plectrum after all!

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  5. I didn’t find this show funny at all, he was clearly depressed but displaying half-hearted attempts at bravado.His revived career had stalled and his year-long ‘lost weekend’ was coming to a very sobering end. While, Priscilla had moved on with a magazine spread in Good Housekeeping Ladies Monthly in America discussing life after Elvis, in a measured way.This is the first time he openly vented his frustration with all that in front of a live audience. His mind was elsewhere,most likely on the impending final proceedings of his divorce from Priscilla and he clearly did not want to be ‘working’. For the second time in his adult life his fantasy bubble was about to be pricked and he would have to face reality. Just listen to ‘Softly As I Leave You’, his last song of the night. He loved that girl and he realised he had f#cked up royally……as befits a king. Unfortunately, although a talented genius, in affairs of the heart he was just a man. A man who had very publicly lost his wife and only child to another man as a result of his own chosen alternative lifestyle and ethos. While Parker played a high-risk game in the casinos blowing money that he had screwed from an unwitting Elvis, Elvis himself indulged in a high risk game of his own pitting his own long-term happiness against that of a series of short-term thrills. When Priscilla walked and stayed away, Elvis had been beaten at his own game…..and he knew it! No prescription drug can kill that pain. Elvis never had to write an autobiography, he laid it all out there in his music for all who wanted to hear it. Many heard it but not enough listened. He gave vent to a rollercoaster of emotions in his short prolific career and and we benefitted from his music ( and appearance ! Is there anyone more charismatic ?) but what did Elvis the man get? Clearly hero-worship from the anonymous millions of fans and chart hits don’t satisfy the soul. Elvis was a rogue, a lovable rogue and for some unfathomable reason he is ‘our’ rogue!

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    • I wouldn’t call the whole show funny, no. I think singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to the tune of “Suspicious Minds” was a good gag, so that part was funny to me. In terms of the whole CD, the segments of two shows presented on Closing Night, I found it entertaining, interesting, and unique.

      Obviously, he had much frustration at this time, in terms of both his personal and professional lives, and he was venting some of that throughout this often bizarre show. Though some of those frustrations, as you indicate, were of his own making, I can’t begrudge him letting loose a little for a change.

      Thanks for joining in, Noel.

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  6. Hi everybody!

    The closing show on September 3, 1973, was an unusual, and at times, crazy show, no doubt about that. HIghlights too me are “My Boy” as well as “What Now My Love” which had Elvis performing the song in a bed being rolled onto the stage!

    Apparently Colonel Parker was in the audience, and Elvis blowing off steam didn’t go down to well with him, as it resulted in a heated argument after the show where Elvis fired his manager (although he changed his mind a bit later).

    Clearly Elvis was very much frustrated at this time of his life, and maybe things would have taken another direction if another manager had stepped in. Who knows?

    I wrote a little something about, among other things, this show, a couple of years back: http://www.elvistodayblog.com/2008/11/elvis-on-tape-part-two.html

    Thanks for a great blog, Troy!

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    • Yes, Parker was definitely there. Elvis even introduced him after the band intros. (I think this is the only CD I have where he does this.) It is too bad that Elvis ended up backing out of firing him. There were a number of factors working against that coming to be.

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  7. I often daydream about being a young, up-and-coming agent/manager-type in the early ’70’s and stumbling onto Elvis at this time. Talking him away from the Colonel, getting him healthy, re-prioritizing his career, etc, etc……………

    There’s a screenplay/novel in there somewhere.

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    • I think it would’ve been really tough to get to Elvis and pull something off like that by this point, unfortunately. I guess we’ll never know, though.

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