1970s Elvis fares well in unlikely place

Elvis, 1973“I grew up in the late fifties and strongly believe Elvis made his best music in the years before going in the Army,” states Phil Arnold in his most recent ElvisBlog post, “Top 10 Elvis Songs — A Contrarian View.”

“I really don’t care for much of Elvis’ music from the seventies – not really rock and roll, too many horns and fancy arrangements,” he says.

I quote this not to argue with Phil’s opinion, to which he is obviously entitled, but to contrast it against his top ten Elvis songs that he goes on to discuss in the post (you may want to read it first and come back here).

Focusing in on his favored version of each song in the list, four two are from the 1960s, three five are are from the 1950s, and three are from the 1970s. Somehow, the 1970s fares just almost as well as the 1950s on Phil’s list.

Though I have broadened my Elvis horizons over the years to enjoy music from throughout his career, I would certainly fall into the classification of a “1970s fan” compared to Phil.

So, how many 1970s songs appear in my own top ten list?

It turns out, not very many. Here’s my personal list of favorites.

#1 Always On My Mind [Rehearsal] (1972)
#2 If I Can Dream (1968)
#3 Mystery Train (1955)
#4 Suspicious Minds (1969)
#5 Can’t Help Falling In Love (1961)
#6 Jailhouse Rock (1957)
#7 Love Me (1956)
#8 One Night (1957)
#9 Are You Lonesome Tonight (1960)
#10 Reconsider Baby (1960)

Only one from the 1970s! That’s right, Phil actually has three times as many 1970s songs on his list as I do. My list has four 1950s recordings, one more less than “1950s fan” Phil, and five from the 1960s.

Putting aside my little fun, Phil’s list is actually quite good and well thought out. Plus, I wholeheartedly agree with the quality of many of his selections.

For instance, two of his top ten appear in my top eleven (“Reconsider Baby” and “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”). Seven of his top ten appear in some form in my top 100.

Two of the three songs that do not appear on my top 100 list are, you guessed it, from the 1970s (“I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water” [undubbed master-1970] and “Steamroller Blues” [live]).

So, what does all of this mean? Never trust a list on an Elvis blog. We’re just makin’ this stuff up as we go, man!

[UPDATE: Corrected per comments below.]

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This marks the 250th post on The Mystery Train Elvis Blog. Thank you to all of those who have been along for the ride. I’d say this journey is only about halfway through, so there are many posts yet to come.

6 thoughts on “1970s Elvis fares well in unlikely place

  1. Hey Troy:

    I’m glad I was able to provide the inspiration for another of your fine blog articles. I’ve come up with several ideas for ElvisBlog after reading topics in The Mystery Train Blog. We both know how difficult it is to come up with new articles every week, so I’m glad it works both ways.

    However, I have been scratching my head to figure out how you counted only three 50s Elvis songs on my Top 10 list. I count six, and here they are with the recording date in parentheses as you have done in your article.

    1) I Was the One (1956)
    2) Santa Claus is Back in Town (1957)
    3) I Want to Be Free (1957)
    4) Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (1956)
    5) Trying to Get to You (1955)
    6) Baby, I Don’t Care (1957)

    I did mention that I liked versions of some of these songs as performed in the 60s or 70s, but they are still 50s Elvis songs.

    No way am I a closet 70s fan. Elvis’ music from the 50s rules!

    Phil Arnold http://www.ElvisBlog.net

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    • Hey Phil,

      I’m a writer, not a mathematician!

      It’s your list, so I’ll have to defer to you. Here’s how I came up with my counts, though…

      #10 I Was The One (1956)
      #9 Santa Claus Is Back In Town (1957)
      #8 Reconsider Baby (1960)
      #7 I Want To Be Free (1957)
      In looking at my scratch sheet, as best I can tell, I apparently miscounted this one as 1960s – couldn’t read my own handwriting at 5 AM, it seems.

      #6 Steamroller Blues (1973)
      #5 I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water (1970)
      #4 Lawdy Miss Clawdy (1972)

      You noted: “I liked Elvis’ version on his first album, Elvis Presley, and I liked his unplugged version during the ’68 Comeback Special even more. But what really turned me on was watching Elvis nail “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” on the theatrical showing of the restored Elvis On Tour.” I take that to mean you rank the versions as follows: 1.) 1972 Live, 2.) 1968 Live, 3.) 1956.

      #3 Tryin’ To Get To You (1968)

      This was a misread on my part. I thought you noted the 1968 version as your favorite. You did not specify, but presumably it is the 1955 version instead.

      #2 Baby, I Don’t Care (1957)
      #1 Like A Baby (1960)

      So, it was actually 5 for the 1950s, 3 for the 1970s, and 2 for the 1960s, by my new count.

      As I said, though, never trust a list on an Elvis blog – especially not on The Mystery Train.

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  2. Congratulations to 250 posts, Troy! I’ve certainly enjoyed the ride so far, and plan on staying aboard until the journey is through. I’m glad I talked you into blogging about Elvis 250 posts ago. Here’s for at least 250 more, buddy!

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    • Haha, thanks, Johnny. Way too early to say, but I can’t imagine writing more than about 500 posts on a subject, not even Elvis. At least not without a decade or so of time off in between.

      I used to have a more general pop culture blog, The Film Frontier, and I soon realized after post #500 in 2010 that I should have just stopped right there. Even when I created a similar “any topic” type blog a year later, I found I was still burned out on it and dropped the whole thing.

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