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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Tomorrow Is a Long Time"

Elvis Presley - "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" (1966)

From the soundtrack album Spinout, where Elvis plays a part time rock band leader and part time race car driver. Three different women want to marry him. It couldn't be more of a Marty Stu movie if it tried.

This song's got a convoluted recording history. Let's break it down. Originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1962 as a demo, that version was only available on bootleg and didn't get released until 2010. A bootlegged live version, recorded in April 1963 in New York was the most commonly heard version of the song for years, by Dylan at least. This version that played over the Walking Dead season one finale is now the only version by Dylan easily available on line. I think it's the 1963 live version, but I can't promise. Anyway, back to the brief story of the Elvis version. In August of 1963 Bob Dylan played at the Civil Rights march in Washington DC along with many others. One of those was Black folk singer Odetta. in January of 1965 Odetta released an album called Odetta sings Dylan that included her take on the song. Now Elvis didn't need Odetta's version to record Dylan, he was a fan, and covered at least a couple more Dylan tunes during his later career, mostly informal never released stuff, but still; he knew the guy. So why is the Odetta version an important step? It's clearly the version Elvis, his producer Felton Jarvis, and his musicians based their version on.

I'm hearing two acoustic guitars, one playing an almost slide-like wailing occasional lead. The other playing chords. The only real percussion is a tambourine doing just about the most laid back tambourine I've ever heard. I really like the walking bass on this track. It's a great sound and not overly loud or brash. Actually that bass is just about all that keeps the instruments on this song from being an old folk recording, it's too clear and was obviously done in a studio. Elvis gets forgotten a lot in today's fast paced musical world, but his voice here is not to be denied.

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