- Tomorrow Never Comes
- Little Cabin On the Hill
- Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
- Funny How Time Slips Away
- I Really Don’t Want to Know
- There Goes My Everything
- It’s Your Baby, You Rock It
- The Fool
- Faded Love
- I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water
- Make the World Go Away
Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old) is the 13th Studio album by Elvis Presley. Released on January 2, 1971, it was recorded at RCA’s Studio B in Nashville over a period of five days. While the sessions ended up resulting in 35 potential album tracks, Elvis and his producer, Felton Jarvis, realized that they had quite a few country cuts on the album, so decided to go back and add a few more in order to create a proper country album. This was an unusual practice for Elvis, as he would typically record a batch of songs, later relying on his producer to assemble them into something resembling an album. It was so carefully sequenced that the reason for the (I’m 10,000 Years Old) in the title is because snippets of the song, “I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago” play as interstitial music between each track. The album was successful in the way Elvis albums of this period were, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard 200 and selling over one million copies worldwide.
Listening to this album, a thing happened that has become common when listening to Elvis albums of this period: I found myself greatly preferring one side to the other. In this case, it was the back half of the album, Side B, which I found much more cohesive and exciting. It was country rock at its best, and I think those songs most lended themselves to Elvis’ voice. Also, the snippets of “I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago” that played between each song worked much better on Side B as well. What I really loved about their choice to sequence the album that way is that we never get to hear the full version of that song, making it feel like when we only fragments of a dream, and can never get back to the full story. It also did make the album feel more cohesive than some of Elvis’ offerings, and sampled a great variety of different types of Country music.
* notes songs that are especially recommended
The first song sets the tone of the album well, as it is banjo driven, and features beautiful harmonies and a catchy chorus backed by a full orchestral sound.
2. Tomorrow Never Comes
What sticks out about this song is the really distinctive drum sound at the beginning, reminiscent of the singular drum that frames the Christmas classic, “Little Drummer Boy”. This song has many good things going on: the sentiment of the song is wistful and mourning in that classic country way, the instrumental buildup is interesting, and the ending really picks up. However, it never fully sticks the landing.
3. Little Cabin On the Hill
The one where Elvis has some rockabilly fun at the hoedown throw down. It’s short, sweet, and enjoyable.
4. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On*
Ok this cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic had me at hello. Not only because of the longtime feud between the two rock n’ roll pioneers, but because of the way that Elvis really revamped this song for the 1970s. Instead of being piano driven and very jaunty in its style, Elvis’ cover feels sultry, pulsing, and dangerous. It feels like it should be playing in dive-bar in the middle of nowhere at 3 a.m. The bass, played by Norbert Putnam, is a large contributor to this feeling, but mostly it is due to the fact that Elvis sings straightforward rock n’ roll so damn well. I really loved this one.
5. Funny How Time Slips Away*
A bluesy country number, featuring a piano riff, played by David Briggs, that is a really good hook and beautiful backing vocals. This ballad is so evocative of romance and one time loves. If this song was in a movie scene I see it going something like this. It takes place in a small town bar with two exes running into each other for the first time in a long while. It turns out this bar used to be their place. In the interest of being the bigger person, Elvis asks his ex to dance. As they catch up on the dance floor, Elvis notices his old feelings coming back, especially since they are in the place of so many past memories. In order to stop himself from doing something foolish, he excuses himself and makes his exit.
6. I Really Don’t Want to Know*
This song was the single for the album and continues the soulful vibe of his previous two releases, albeit with a more country feel. His vocals are stunning and I can see why they chose the song based on the very relevant, then and now, subject matter. Do you want to know the details of your S.O’s past or not? The eternal question.
7. There Goes My Everything
This is a fairly standard country ballad arranged in the countrypolitan way that was so popular at the time. Maybe if Elvis had lended more nuanced vocals to the track it could have worked. However, the melodramatic arrangement paired with his very affected vocals does not suit the material well.
8. It’s Your Baby, You Rock It*
A helluva kiss off song, it’s lyrics are so relatable as we all have that one friend who just refuses to take our oft repeated advice, and then complains when nothing changes. Ouch line: “she done you like she done me and I’ve used up all my sympathy”….go off king. The 70s country lite also suits this song well, as the sunny vibe is a much better song for Elvis and also keeps his words from sounding too mean spirited. Shoulder shimmy rating: 8.0.
9. The Fool*
This song has got swagger in spades, making it a worthy entry in the halls of the outlaw country genre. Elvis uses his deepest register here, which I love and which is perfectly suited to this song. Feels like a fun, raunchy bar song.
10. Faded Love*
Based on the failings of his previous attempts at Country ballads, I was nervous about this one. Patsy Cline arguably has the definitive version of this song, and like everything she touched it’s a perfect lyrical translation. Elvis made the right choice in totally changing the arrangement, turning it into a brusque song of heartbreak that would be a lively concert anthem. While the song is arguably too busy at points, I still rocked out for the entire 3:19, so it’s a winner in my book!
11. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water*
A really rollicking, fun story song about getting into some trouble. The horn section and the piano all add to the frenzy and energy of this song, propelling it to a climactic ending. Oh. And Elvis also sounds great.
12. Make the World Go Away*
What a relatable sentiment in 2020! Featuring a stunning intro guitar by James Burton, the ballad arrangement is perfected here. The chorus is so effective and anthemic it makes me want to sing this song in an arena full of people who all collectively wish the problems of the world could vanish with a simple wish (I miss concerts). In fact, I actually did find myself singing along by the end. And considering it was my first time hearing the song? That means its a really good anthem. The chorus is really the star on this song, grounded by a wonderful walking bass part providedE by Norbert Putnam. Truly the mark of a great anthem, and a perfect ending to this album.