Elvis' Favorite Album?
This is pretty mind blowing. It appears that a strong argument can be made for Elvis' favorite album, at least for the last decade of his life...being this one. And no more unlikely a favorite album could be imagined for the King of Rock and Roll than Charles Boyer's Where Does Love Go.
I've been reading Peter Guralnick's great biography of Elvis and his army and later years, Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. Guralnick calls the second half of Elvis' story a tragedy, and that's so true.
Elvis is sworn into the US Army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, March 24, 1958
There was a sadness in Elvis after his mother's death, after he was paid off to make mostly lesser, B-grade movies, after his music had lost its edge and he had lost his way, consumed by his fame and its attendant ennui. There was a sadness in him that presaged the story's tragic end, that foreshadowed his end long before it ever happened.
According to his intimates, Elvis played this melancholy album of lost love incessantly on the set of Clambake: the last, bad movie he would make for a $1,000,000 salary, and again after Priscilla left him. He seemed always in those years to be seeking the answer to the title's question...where does love go?
And what a strange album for the King of Rock and Rollers to admire. French actor Charles Boyer recites spoken, not sung lyrics, in his heavily accented English, over lush orchestrations of old torch songs.
Elvis at the epic Aloha from Hawaii concert, 1973
It sounds fairly bizarre to the modern listener, but it was pretty common in the 1960s for actors to release similar, hammy albums of spoken lyrics-to-music songs.
Have you ever heard William Shatner's rendition of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"? If you have, you can appreciate how much better Charles Boyer's work is by comparison.
When I listen to this melancholy baby, I think I get what Elvis was hearing, and digging so much. Charles Boyer was the soul of romance, and the lyrics he speaks tug at our heart strings in a very compelling way. You can imagine E being captivated by something so seemingly sophisticated, and wise, and so far removed from "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Hound Dog."
VCH recently obtained a new-in-wrap 1960s vinyl LP of Where Does Love Go on eBay for all of ten bucks, plus shipping.
Elvis loved "Softly, As I leave You" the best. And it's very good. Frank Sinatra liked it, too.