Frequent commenter Ray Faithfull recently emailed me the following mystery:
I watched a clip posted on facebook for the song “We Can Make The Morning”….then it dawned on me that it was longer than the Now album release and the FTD release by almost 30 seconds..I figured you would be the person to go to for some insight as to how many takes of this song were actually done and what and where have they been released??
Was take 1 the master take that went for over 4:30 and was simply faded at 3:48 for the final cut ??
I have included the link to the video i am referring to with the version i had not heard or at least not completely?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGIMKq-qwOM
Though I did not know the answer right off the top of my head, Ray had obviously placed a lot of faith in me (no pun intended . . . I think), so I felt compelled to research this for him.
First, I checked iTunes, where I have meticulously cataloged every unique Elvis track I own. To my surprise, the only version of “We Can Make The Morning” I have is the master recording, as released on Elvis Now. My iTunes version of the 1971 track, sourced from the circa-2007 Vic Anesini remastering effort as released on Elvis: The Complete Masters Collection, clocks in at 3:59. However, the last five seconds of that are silence.
I pulled out my vintage 1972 vinyl edition of the Elvis Now album, and it indicated a run time of 3:54 for “We Can Make The Morning.” So, I had approximately six seconds more song than Ray’s 3:48 source, but nowhere near the 4:44 of the YouTube video. Though I am fairly obsessive about obtaining alternate takes of songs that Elvis formally recorded between 1969 and 1976, I certainly do not own every Elvis release. Perhaps this extended version was on an album I did not have.
Checks of the Elvis Now FTD edition liner notes and Ernst Jorgensen’s essential Elvis Presley: A Life In Music – The Complete Recording Sessions book provided no useful information in this case. Next, I went to my favorite source for alternate take information, the incredible Elvis Recording Data/Session Notes section of the Elvis In Norway site. There, I also found only one entry for “We Can Make The Morning,” the master recording (B-side single), with time listed as 3:54.
I only collect official releases, so my next thought was that the 4:44 version might be from a bootleg. Elvis In Norway’s Session Notes section fortunately does not muddy the water by including those, so I went to another reliable source that does incorporate bootleg information, the Recording Sessions section of Keith Flynn’s Elvis Presley Pages site.
There I found three matches for “We Can Make The Morning”:
- RCA Studio B – Nashville, Tennessee, May 20 / 21 1971
- RCA Studio A – Nashville, Tennessee (Overdub Session), May 25, 1971
- RCA Studios – Hollywood, California (Overdub Session), June 21, 1971 (Evening)
A note on the May 20 / 21 page indicates, “Tape reel #2 from this session is missing, and this is the reel that would have included […] the outtakes of We Can Make The Morning,” so that effectively ruled out an alternate take of the song.
The undubbed master has apparently never been released, nor has the May 25 string overdubs version. Only the completed June 21 version, with overdubbed brass and strings, has been released (i.e., the one from Elvis Now).
However, the site lists the track as 4:11. That’s 17 seconds closer to 4:44, but still not enough. The 4:11 version of the song was released on the bootleg Unedited Masters: Nashville 1971 by the Venus label. There, “We Can Make The Morning” is listed as the “unedited, overdubbed master.” I do not have the album to verify whether the track fades at the end but, assuming the Venus information is correct, that leaves at least 33 unaccounted seconds that are in the video.
After all of this, I finally decided to take a listen to the YouTube video, which had been created by a fan. The visual imagery, interspersing photos of Elvis in life with photos of fans at candlelight vigils in the years after his death, was not to my liking, so I stopped paying attention to the video and just listened to the audio. Not only did it go to 4:44, but the song had not even fully faded at that point.
What was going on here? Though I did not detect anything the first time through, my guess was that a portion of the song had been re-looped somewhere (i.e., a part of the recording had been replayed to artificially make the song longer). On my second listen to the 4:44 video, I played the Elvis Now version at the same time. Whatever potential monkey business had occurred within the song was definitely happening near the end.
My third and fourth listens revealed that 3:28 in the video is a repeat of 2:48. For example, listen how Elvis draws out “night” at 3:33, which is an exact duplicate of how he sings it at 2:53 in the video.
Essentially, someone has artificially added at least 40 seconds to the audio track on the “We Can Make The Morning” YouTube video by repeating a portion of the song – most likely to suit the purposes of the photo montage. Other than the abrupt ending, the audio editing is actually quite seamless. However, I will stick with the original version.
Thanks for the great question, Ray, and for inspiring today’s post.