I am a second-generation Elvis fan. My mom first heard Elvis in 1956, during the initial wave of his national success. By the end of that year, after multiple television appearances and a movie role in Love Me Tender, Elvis had earned millions of new fans. Mom was one of them.
Through marriage and kids, good times and bad times, she stuck with Elvis over the years. By the time I came along in the mid-1970s, both my mom and my brother were fans. You could say I was born an Elvis fan.
Many of the first records I ever heard were Mom’s old 45s from the 1950s and 1960s. Though I remember listening to them when I was about two-years-old, I cannot recall specific songs. The earliest ones that I can remember are “My Way” and “America The Beautiful,” two sides of a single that came out in the months after Elvis’ death in 1977.
I have told stories here before about Mom blasting cassette tapes of As Recorded At Madison Square Garden and Elvis In Concert in the car when I was young. Though she has upgraded to CDs and expanded her selection of albums, she still does this.
Though Mom is a first-wave Elvis fan, she does not turn her nose up at his post-Army work like some of her contemporaries. She actually prefers his 1970s music above all.
That being said, she also prefers songs with a beat. This makes my work difficult when trying to buy her a CD, as Elvis had evolved beyond rock ‘n’ roll in her favorite time period.
I will share a couple of recent examples. I was playing a bit of A Boy From Tupelo for her. This is the ultimate boxed set collecting his 1953 to 1955 recordings. I wanted her to hear the “dry” 45-RPM SUN version of “That’s All Right.”
Troy: Listen to this. Isn’t this cool? This is how it sounded back in 1954, before RCA changed it.
Mom: I never did like that song.
Troy: You don’t like “That’s All Right”? That was his first record. The one that started it all!
Mom: I just never liked it.
Troy: You like the 1970s versions, though, right? Like on Madison Square Garden?
Mom: No, not even that one.
Troy: I can’t believe you don’t like it. I never knew that, after all of these years.
Mom: I’m sorry.
Troy: All I can say is… that’s all right, Mom.
I also gave her the FTD compilation Our Memories of Elvis, which contains alternate mixes of various 1970s songs. I had enjoyed the release the first time I heard it, so I thought the unique mixes would be a sure-fire winner.
Troy: What did you think of Our Memories of Elvis?
Mom: Oh, I liked it. I think I played it once.
Troy: Wait. You played it once? Are you sure you liked it?
Mom: It was okay. It just wasn’t fast enough. Too many slow songs.
Troy: I know, it didn’t have “Suspicious Minds” on it. [Any album that has a 1970 or later version of "Suspicious Minds" on it is an instant hit for Mom.]
Mom: I like a beat!
Troy: I know, Mom. I know!
I am actually picking on her a little here, which is not a nice thing to do on Mother’s Day. For one thing, even I did not not enjoy Our Memories of Elvis as much the second time through. I must have been in a fantastic mood the first time I played it. I actually thought it was one of the best releases ever. I am sure glad I did not review it, because then my initial overreaction would be preserved on the Internet for all to see.
For every example like the above, I should point out, there are dozens of examples of Elvis recordings and albums that Mom does love. Her favorite album is Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite. Her favorite song, as you might have guessed, is “Suspicious Minds,” especially the version on The Alternate Aloha, which has the drums more prominent in the mix.
Though she may not enjoy 1950s recordings as much anymore, Mom still has a rebellious streak in her. She likes to do things her way, no matter what anyone says. My wife tells me this trait reminds her of someone else she knows, but I am not sure who she means.
Another funny thing is, while most moms are after their sons to get haircuts, my mom thinks I get my hair cut too short.
We joke around often. I love talking about Elvis and other topics with her. Elvis music is but one of many gifts she has given me. I am very proud to have such a gentle and loving woman as my mom.
With much love, here is a playlist in her honor.
Elvis: Sweet Rock ‘n’ Roll
- Burning Love [Burning Love And Hits From His Movies, Volume 2]
- Johnny B. Goode (Rehearsal) [Elvis On Tour: The Rehearsals]
- Proud Mary (Live) [Close Up]
- Suspicious Minds (Live) [Prince From Another Planet (Disc 1)]
- Polk Salad Annie (Live) [3000 South Paradise Road]
- One Night (Live) [Memories]
- Blue Suede Shoes (Live) [Burbank 68]
- Jailhouse Rock (Live) [Burbank 68]
- Don’t Be Cruel (Live) [Burbank 68]
- Stranger In The Crowd (Master, Rough Mix) [That's The Way It Is (2008 FTD Edition)]
- Baby, Let’s Play House (Rehearsal) [A Life In Music]
- A Fool Such As I (Rehearsal) [That's The Way It Is (2000 Special Edition)]
- Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On [Walk A Mile In My Shoes]
- Wearin’ That Loved-On Look (Alternate) [Memphis Sessions]
- Rubberneckin’ [Almost In Love]
- Hey Jude [Elvis Now]
- Power Of My Love (Alternate) [A Life In Music]
- After Loving You [From Elvis In Memphis]
- Any Day Now (Alternate) [Memphis Sessions]
- Runaway (Live) [Elvis: Viva Las Vegas (2007 Limited Edition)]
- My Babe (Live) [Today, Tomorrow & Forever]
- Baby, What You Want Me To Do (Live) [Elvis At The International]
- All Shook Up (Live) [Live In Vegas: August 26, 1969 Dinner Show]
- Hound Dog (Live) [Live In Vegas: August 26, 1969 Dinner Show]
- Mystery Train/Tiger Man (Live) [Live In Vegas: August 26, 1969 Dinner Show]
- A Big Hunk O’ Love (Live) [Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite]
- Promised Land [Promised Land]
- Steamroller Blues (Live) [A Life In Music]
Thank you, Mom.