“Elvis Song Of The Year” for 2011

Burning Love (1972)According to iTunes, out of 2,564 Elvis tracks, the one I played most often this year was: “Burning Love,” his 1972 single.

I listened to 10,023 Elvis songs using iTunes or my iPod in 2011 (including duplicates). That’s an average of 27 Elvis songs a day.

Out of 3,225 non-Elvis tracks, my most played song this year was: “Sweet Dreams” by Beyoncé, from her 2008 album I Am… Sasha Fierce.

Overall, I listened to 19,917 songs using iTunes or my iPod this year. That works out to 55 songs a day. My daily average in the last two years was about 44. The increase is probably due to this year having the capability to play my iPod in the car.

When I first started this blog, I mentioned that the soundtrack of my life was powered by Elvis. I’m happy to say, that hasn’t changed.

Christmas Dreams 2011: An Elvis Playlist for the Holiday Season (Playlist Recipes #4)

Nearly every year since I was about 13, I’ve made some form of an Elvis “Christmas mix” for my own personal use. This started out in the late 1980s on cassette tapes. I eventually graduated to CD-Rs in the late 1990s. The present incarnation of this concept is, of course, in the form of iPod playlists. It sure is much easier to perfect the sequencing on a playlist than it is on a tape, let me tell you.

As you might imagine, in many ways, this is simply a reshuffling of the same couple of dozen songs every year. Why bother when I could just reuse a previous year’s compilation? The main reason is that I have so much fun putting this together. It’s how I kick off the Christmas season.

This year, I thought I would share my Elvis Christmas playlist sequence with you in case you would like to try it out on your own.

Elvis: Christmas Dreams (2011)

Elvis: Christmas Dreams (2011)

  • Santa Claus Is Back In Town/Blue Christmas (Live) [Tiger Man]
  • I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day (Alternate) [Today, Tomorrow & Forever]
  • Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees (Alternate) [If Every Day Was Like Christmas]
  • It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Alternate) [If Every Day Was Like Christmas]
  • If Every Day Was Like Christmas [Elvis’ Christmas Album (1970 Edition)]
  • Santa Bring My Baby Back [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • Here Comes Santa Claus [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • Silver Bells [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • White Christmas [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • Winter Wonderland [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • If I Get Home On Christmas Day [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • Blue Christmas [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • It Won’t Seem Like Christmas [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • On A Snowy Christmas Night [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • The First Noel [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • O Come All Ye Faithful (Alternate) [Memories Of Christmas]
  • Silent Night [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • Santa Lucia [Elvis For Everyone]
  • The Wonderful World Of Christmas [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]
  • Santa Claus Is Back In Town [Elvis’ Christmas Album]
  • I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day (Alternate) [Memories Of Christmas]
  • Blue Christmas (Rehearsal) [Let Yourself Go! (Track 25, “Blue Christmas” portion only)]
  • Merry Christmas Baby [Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas]

For those in the US, I also published a variant of this playlist on iTunes as Elvis: Christmas Dreams (2011).

Happy holidays, everyone!

For The Heart: An Elvis New Year Workout Playlist (Playlist Recipes #2)

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that 2011 is full of health and prosperity for all of you.

This is the time of year when many of us set resolutions to do (or not do) various things. I often resolve to write my first novel. Hasn’t happened yet, but one of these years, I’m gonna get that one done! Maybe this will be the one. A popular resolution for many people is to become more physically fit. To that end, frequent commenter Ray Faithfull recently requested an Elvis playlist for working out.

Ray’s suggestion solved my dilemma of what to post here for New Year’s Day. This playlist is designed to start slow, get really revved up, and then taper off to nothing. Though you should feel like a king at the beginning, you may very well need somebody to lean on by the end of this high octane set.

Exercise, Elvis Style

Exercise, Elvis Style

For The Heart: An Elvis Workout (AKA Elvis Shakes His Excess Off)

  • King Of The Whole Wide World [C’mon Everybody]
  • Any Day Now (Alternate) [Memphis Sessions]
  • For The Heart [From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee]
  • A Little Less Conversation (Remix) [Elvis vs. JXL]
  • Polk Salad Annie (Live) [Close Up]
  • My Baby Left Me [For LP Fans Only]
  • His Latest Flame [Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3]
  • Jailhouse Rock [Elvis’ Golden Records]
  • Mystery Train/Tiger Man (Live) [Collectors Gold]
  • Power Of My Love [From Elvis In Memphis]
  • My Babe (Live) [From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis]
  • Hey Little Girl [Harum Scarum]
  • A Big Hunk O’ Love [50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records Volume 2]
  • Big Boss Man [Clambake]
  • Blue Suede Shoes (Remix) [Viva Elvis: The Album]
  • Heartbreak Hotel/Hound Dog/All Shook Up (Live) [ELVIS-TV Special]
  • Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do [Loving You]
  • Little Sister [Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3]
  • Good Rockin’ Tonight [A Date With Elvis]
  • Johnny B. Goode (Live) [From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis]
  • Rubberneckin’ [Almost In Love]
  • Bossa Nova Baby [Fun In Acapulco]
  • Hard Headed Woman [King Creole]
  • The Fool [Elvis Country]
  • Suspicious Minds (Live) [All Shook Up]
  • Follow That Dream (Alternate) [Today, Tomorrow & Forever]
  • Funny How Time Slips Away (Rehearsal) [Elvis On Tour: The Rehearsals]
  • I Need Somebody To Lean On [I Got Lucky]

I tried something new and published this playlist on iTunes as For The Heart: An Elvis Workout. If you have iTunes, you should be able to see it there by following the link (I am not sure if this will work for those outside of the US). Not all of the same versions were available, so I had to do a few substitutions.

Thanks to Ray for the idea. Good luck with your fitness goals, buddy. I’ll be right in there fighting, too.

Keep those suggestions coming, everyone. Have a fantastic 2011!

“Elvis Song Of The Year” for 2010

According to iTunes, out of 1,439 Elvis tracks, the one I played most often this year was: “Any Day Now” on 1969’s From Elvis In Memphis.

I listened to 6,749 Elvis songs using iTunes or my iPod in 2010 (including duplicates). That’s an average of 18 Elvis songs a day. Elvis is by no means the only artist I listen to, though.

Out of 2,694 non-Elvis tracks, my most played song this year was: “Halo” by Beyoncé on 2008’s I Am… Sasha Fierce.

Overall, I listened to 15,964 songs using iTunes or my iPod this year. That’s 44 songs a day. My daily average last year was 43, so at least I am consistent.

No matter how you cut the numbers, that’s a lot of music. The scary part is, that doesn’t even include my CD spins – which would probably add another 15 songs a day.

* * *

Thank you to all of those who read or supported The Mystery Train Elvis Blog in 2010. I hope to see you next year!

From “Harbor Lights” to “Unchained Melody” in 14 days

A few months ago, I spent three weeks listening in release order to all Elvis albums issued during his lifetime. Though I owned these songs for years, I had never played them in such a sequential manner before. I probably never would have, either, were it not for the convenience of modern technology – using iTunes and my iPod.

All of the great coverage around the web about Sony’s The Complete Elvis Presley Masters collection inspired me to undertake a similar journey in recent weeks. Using the Elvis Presley master recordings list as a guide, I created a new playlist to listen to all of the songs in recording order this time. While I was at it, I also tagged each song with a number so that I can easily sort them by recording order in the future.

It took me only two weeks to listen to over 700 Elvis songs, and it was an even better listening experience this way. As expected, the hardest years for me to sludge through were 1964 and 1965 (from about “Poison Ivy League” on down to “Queenie Wahine’s Papaya”). Even then, there were the occasional highlights like “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me” or “This Is My Heaven” – but most songs from this time represent the worst of the movie tunes.

Outside of that long rough spot, though, playing the songs in a coherent fashion like this made it even more obvious how solid most of his other recordings were over the years. It really made me appreciate the “sound” of individual sessions, something that is not always evident when listening to many of his albums. As a fan, it was an emotional experience as well, even more so than listening to them as albums.

When the Graceland sessions came to a close with “He’ll Have To Go,” I realized there were only three Elvis recordings left before he did just that. As he sang “If You Love Me,” and “Little Darlin’,” I knew the inevitable was coming. It was going by so fast, I wanted it to slow down, I wanted it not to happen this time.

He launched into his breathtaking version of “Unchained Melody” and when it was over . . . silence.

I sat and listened to that silence for awhile . . . and thought about what it represented.

“Anyone could lose his heart like me”

Don’t you love when an Elvis song that you previously paid little attention to comes out and smacks you across the forehead? You suddenly realize that it’s a great song. That’s what happened to me just now with 1963’s “Anyone” from the Kissin’ Cousins soundtrack.

I had iTunes on shuffle, using a smart playlist. It was “There Goes My Baby” by the Drifters, then “I Just Call You Mine” by Martina McBride, “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé, Elvis foolin’ around on “The Cattle Call,” and then, BOOM, “Anyone.”

Why have I never noticed this beautiful song before? I had it rated as a measly two stars. I’ve bumped it up to four.

* * *

My pal Thomas over at the Elvis Today blog seems a little down in his latest post about the forthcoming Follow That Dream Records releases. Up next will be a book and CD combo for 1958’s King Creole.

Unfortunately, the CD contains only previously released material, and misses being comprehensive by leaving out a couple tracks that were available on Hits Like Never Before. After that, there will be a vinyl release capturing highlights from the Classic Albums series version of Good Times.

Cheer up, Thomas. What’s the best thing about FTD? Variety. 1950s releases are few and far between on FTD, and perhaps the King Creole book (and potential sound upgrades) will be good enough to make this underdog a special release.

In the US, I have a slight advantage because I’ll be able to read some of the reviews from around the world before our pre-order period is over.

The other releases we’re waiting for, such as Promised Land, will come eventually. As you said, Elvis On Tour is on the way. We can’t have everything at once now, can we? We don’t want to be spoiled.