I Recorded With Elvis, in honor of B. Lansky

I Recorded With Elvis

January 28, 2005, I recorded with Elvis today. I walked into the studio and he was sitting in the corner. My group was setting up in the other room, they didn’t see him at first. There were a bunch of students with Elvis, not hangers-on like he has in the movies, students. Elvis had a thin stretch of beard down one cheek and down the other, it was pure white by then and his legs were you know kind of crooked the way you can see when older guys wear their pants too pegged.

Wait a minute, Buffalo said, Elvis had students?

Yeah, he had students. I wanted to ask Elvis a hundred questions but I also wanted to respect his privacy, I am sure he considers himself retired. It was Elvis all right in the recording studio, I think he was in charge but he hardly said anything and we laid down some nice tracks that day. As far as I can tell, no one will ever hear them because he forgot to tell me they were recording direct to tape and I didn’t push the vocals enough.

I would have pushed the vocals more if Elvis had said something, stopped the recording after the first track, listened for a minute and picked up the unbalance in the mix. I would have leaned into the microphone more because we were recording analog as he did, but Elvis — I could see him through the window of the sound room — he sat still in the corner listening but he didn’t say a thing.

As I was telling Buffalo this story, I started to complain that no one will ever hear what we did that day and she said, Did you sing Teddy Bear? That would have got him going, she laughed out loud.

Did you play well? Buffalo asked.

Really well, I said, we went right to the heart.

Then quit your belly-aching, Buffalo said. Besides, she said with a laugh ripped from the right side of her mouth, who cares if nobody hears it. Elvis has been dead for twenty seven years, be grateful for what you got.

jsg, usa