Hello, I can remember as a boy growing up in the 1950’s all the great new music coming out of my radio, boy those tunes were great. R&B, D00-Wop and, oh yah!!!, rock and roll. There was one member of my family who did not appreciate the new sounds, no it wasn’t my younger sister or my hip Mom, it was my Big Band, easy listening Dad.
I can remember one day, I had a stack of 45’s on the record played and there was an Elvis song playing “WEAR MY RING AROUND YOUR NECK”, his 1958 #2 million seller. My Dad had just come home from work and of course I didn’t hear him come in, but what I did hear was his roar “turn that shit down”. Needless to say, I turned it down, in fact I turned it off. My father than expressed his feelings for Elvis Presley, which I won’t put in print. What it boiled down to was he hated Elvis. Remember this is 1958 and I’m just 13 years old but I make a vow that someday I will convert him into an Elvis fan.
About a year later he makes a little blurb to my Mother that he heard a song on the radio, an old song that someone brought back. He told her the song was, “(Now and Then There’s) A FOOL SUCH AS I”, but didn’t know who sang it. I, very politely tell him, it was Elvis Presley and then leave the room feeling I’ve got him on the ropes.
Fast forward to 1968 and Elvis’s Comeback Special on NBC- TV. Guess who’s sitting there watching it with me….My Dad. He says “you know that guy can really sing”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but in fact it was true. My Dad and I actually went shopping for records and he asked me to help him pick out Elvis albums. When my Dad passed away in 1980 he was a big Elvis fan. I guess it was the sudden change from Big Band and Easy Listening that was hard for him to accept, but he did.
One of his favorites and mine is Elvis’s 1968 hit “IF I CAN DREAM”. It was the closing song from his TV special. An original song, written for Elvis by W. Earl Brown and recorded for the special. Colonel Tom Parker wanted Elvis to close the special with a Christmas song, but the show’s producer Steve Binder and Elvis wanted something different, a song that would say where Elvis was at this time and place. “If I Can Dream” aired on NBC-TV on December 3, 1968, the TV show was the most-watched TV special of 1968. The single record made its chart debut on November 30, 1968, it reached #12 and remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 13 weeks. The single sold over a million copies and became his biggest record since “CRYING IN THE CHAPEL” in 1965. The King was back.
Of course, Dad bought the record…I know that he’s in Heaven and has probably told Elvis by now that at first he wasn’t a fan, but he is now, and Dad I listen to Big Band from time to time, just as you said I would someday, but I listen to my Rock and Roll, R&B and Doo-Wop a lot more. Oh by the way Dad, I’m still a big Elvis fan.
Till the next time—Joe