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Sunday, January 22, 2012

"It's Only Make Believe"

Conway Twitty - It's Only Make Believe (1958)

"Ladies and gentlemen... Mr. Conway Twitty"

On this original recording you can absolutely hear why many people in 1958 thought this record might have been Elvis Presley recording under a false name. Twitty has a low baritone slurred vocal just like Presley, but he also went up higher into his vocal register in this song. The backup singers on this record, were The Jordanaires, which was the same group Elvis used, adding to the confusion. Elvis was serving in the Army at the time, making it hard for him to record new music. This service break gave other young talents a chance to rise and Conway Twitty took it.

The song was written during the intermission at a concert he was giving. He and co-writer/drummer Jack Nance estimate that it took seven minutes to write. Musically it's a simple song. written in 12/8 time, you can hear the piano and guitar playing three notes for every beat. The bass plays every other beat and the drums play along with the piano, accenting the beat opposite of the bass. There's no solo, no break, just an intro over plucked acoustic guitar and then three stanzas. The third is a repeat of the first, really cutting back on the writing. I like how the song builds and falls. Each line in the stanza besides the last one is higher than the one before it; building emotion and tension. Then the final line falls apart, just like the singer's hopes and dreams.

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