Saturday, October 06, 2007

On "I'm Movin' On" by Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley-I'm Movin' On

At first, it’s all country: Acoustic guitar strumming, pedal steel twanging, bass bouncing on a classic two-step figure, and Elvis—the baritone, cocky, arrogant Elvis—singing, “That big eight-wheeler runnin' down the track/Means your true lovin' daddy ain't a comin' back/'Cause he's movin on, he's rollin on." Soon we realize he’s singing in the third person, and we're not surprised. “You were flyin too high for my little ol' sky/So I'm movin' on,” he sings on the melodic turn, dripping cool.

The rhythm picks up here—just a touch. Not too nasty, yet, but it’s grooving, alright. “But some day baby when you've had you play/Your gonna want your daddy but your daddy will say: Keep movin' on, keep rollin' on,” Elvis sings, before repeating himself, just to make sure he's understood. ”You were flyin too high for my little ol' sky/So I'm movin' on.”

“Move on baby!” The drummer takes this as a cue to introduce himself with some sharp, crisp whacks of the snare, which cues the bassist to TAKE OFF, and man does that guy go, right out front in your left ear, clear and clean and totally terrific. Things are happening now—an electric guitar picks out high note melodies and gospel ladies sing “move on!” in the name of glory. Everyone’s ready to rave, but it’s not time, not yet. A low horn blast signals for quiet. Shhhh.

The drummer hangs around, but he’s alright, just tapping out a quiet rhythm on the snare and the hats. The pianist comes in sweet and lazy, like he’s been playing this song for days. “Mr. Fireman-Fireman won't you please listen to me,” Elvis pleads to Mr. Fireman-Fireman, “'cause I gotta pretty momma in Tennessee.” This isn’t easy, you know? But he's not turning back: “Keep rollin on, keep movin' on.” He’s gotta keep going. “Please listen to me, let this rattler free, and keep movin' on.”

Another command: “Move on, son.” The cue is no doubt for the bassist this time, and he TAKES OFF AGAIN. The rest of the guys do their thing, the electric guitar heating just a little. If you listen carefully, you can hear Elvis booming along vocally with the bass, it's got him excited and he's not afraid to show it. The horns pierce through—already on fire— and Elvis starts “tah tah”-ing with the drums. The man can barely contain himself.

Even the pedal steel player is feeling it after that one and he plays a couple of late, excited notes, but they manage to get it quiet one more time. Elvis doesn’t have too much more to say, but they let him say it because, well, he’s Elvis. ”But you just wouldn't listen or pay me no mind/And now I'm movin' on, I'm rollin' on/I'm through with you, too bad you're blue/But I'm movin' on”

Chorus again and everything starts cooking, getting nice and grilled. Elvis jumps in with the gospel ladies. His choice is made. “I said move on! I said move on! I said move on! I said move on!” The horns are burning and the guitar player catches flame. Elvis won’t let it go—he repeats the phrase over and over and over and over, but now his words are mush. “Ah sai- moveon!” “Ah heh movon.” Maybe he’s crying, but it’s not for her. “Well I'm through with you, too bad you're blue.” Meanwhile, that bassist has gone MAD, he's way up on that thing, tickling the high notes with the glee of a three-year-old. The drummer’s ringing on the ride like nobody’s business, the horns keep spinning faster and faster, and the electric guitar blazes in the whirlwhind. They’re movin’ on.


Blogger M-C said...


I nodded appreciatively at this line - "everything starts cooking, getting nice and grilled."

Not sure I ever told you but the Saturday mornings of my childhood were filled with Look away Dixie Land, Go Johnny Go, In the Ghetto Elvis. My dad once owned a pair of blue suede shoes.

9:43 AM  

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