Jul 23, 2022Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Fascinating article, and it gives me new material to listen to.

I've never understood Elvis' thralldom to Parker as anything other than the awe and respect, if not liking, which anybody in Elvis' position in 1954 would have had for a conman who had been able to pull off what Elvis must have regarded as close to miraculous. It was a significant loss artistically, at least in terms of his music, that Elvis, for whatever reason, didn't dump Parker as soon as he could after Beatlemania hit. I doubt he had it in him to be the great actor he wanted to be, but with his musical instincts as solid as they were, he could have avoided the whole lamentable post 1970 jump suit follies. I had the same idea as George Harrison had long before I knew it was Harrison's idea, that Elvis didn't need the jump suits, he was Elvis, why, as Harrison said, didn't he just appear in "a black shirt and jeans and sing, 'That's All Right, Mama'?"

He never needed Parker after 1956. Every time I watch video of Elvis' first appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, I marvel at Elvis' confidence. It amounts to audacity. There he is, 21 years old, and unlike The Beatles eight years later, he didn't have three other guys to lean on for nervous support. He was The Show, and was undeniably to the manor born.

Expand full comment
Jul 6, 2023Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Really enjoyed this and completely agree with your take. He had to do something to abate the mold that the movie soundtracks brought, and I’ve always thought this period was ripe to be examined in the way you did.

Came to this from your July 2023 essay (also excellent) and will go to the one on the 1960-64 material next. Thanks for your work on this.

Also, if you get the chance, read this piece I wrote: “My Grandmother, Elvis, and Me.”


Expand full comment
Jul 23, 2022Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

WOW. What a great read. I'm a huge Elvis fan but this article tells me I've still got a lot to learn. When you're 65 and had a life together with music, almost every day since I was 7 I find it especially satisfactory to read articles which inspire me to have a new listen to music I already know. I've had a hung up on Elvis from 60-62 and tend to forget there is another great period of work in Nashville from 66-68 (this article). Robert Gilbert put this into words and his words make this the "listening to Elvis in Nashville 66-68 day" for me. I will make a playlist immediately with all the tunes Robert mentions in order. The sun is shining in Oslo, Norway. It's summer and I will take the old dog for a walk and listen. I very much look forward to this experience. And again, looking forward to listen to something you've heard many times before happens because of the inspiring words from Robert Gilbert.

Expand full comment
Jul 28, 2022Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

beautiful essay.

i love the how great thou art album.

its not only one of his best from the 60s...but one of his career best.

not all was lost in the wilderness.

he took full charge at these sessions...all in...fully invested...not just with his singing.

song selection.


back-up singers.

that hard work was finally rewarded with his first ever grammy.

the non gospel tracks are exceptional...headed by down in the alley and tomorrow is a long time.

his versions of love letters and i'll remember you are definitive.

guitar man.

big boss man.

hi-heel sneekers.

you don't know me.

you'll never walk alone.

all great tracks...essentials.

too much monkey business and us male both sound like they could've been recorded at his brilliant american sessions in '69...but they sprang from nashville a year earlier.

any combination of these non-gospel recordings coulda been coupled together for one helluva album.

the signs were there.

changes were coming.

he was about to clear the wilderness.

and no matter how bad or silly the soundtracks.....they can't touch the brilliance of that excellent lp how great thou art...and these excellent pre-comeback sessions from '66-'68.

his love for music and the making of it had been rekindled...thankfully.

for his artistry.


for our benefit.

Expand full comment
Jul 26, 2022Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Fantastic read thank you so mush.

I'm 63 now and have been a fan this I was about six or seven.

Now and again I come across an article like this that throws a new light on certain aspects of Elvis's career and it feels like someone is opening a door to let me have a better look inside.

Thanks again, this has definitely given me a new perspective on this part of his career and is much appreciated.

Expand full comment
Jul 25, 2022Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Great read. In Dave Marsh’s 1989 book, 1001 Greatest Rock Singles, he lists “US Male” as evidence that an Elvis revival was brewing underneath all those soundtrack songs. This is a fascinating era for Elvis fans. Not sure RCA has ever anthologized it on record very well. But they should.

Expand full comment
Jul 22, 2022Liked by Robert C. Gilbert

Great detail!

Expand full comment

The movies song are what made Elvis and ti will be the moves songs that will be his future no1,s the only people that do not like thin are the critics that are always wrong i have proved this time and time again with people playing Elvis movie songs far better than the beetles stones and all the rest you wait and see

Expand full comment