Seven lonely days
And a dozen towns ago
I reached out one night
And you were gone
Don't know why you'd run,
What you're running to or from
All I know is I want to bring you home
So I'm walking in the rain,
Thumbing for a ride
On this lonely Kentucky backroad
I've loved you much too long
And my love's too strong
To let you go, never knowing
What went wrong
Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead's another town
That I'll go walking thru
With the rain in my shoes,
Searchin for you
In the cold Kentucky rain,
In the cold Kentucky rain
Showed your photograph
To some old gray bearded man
Sitting on a bench
Outside a gen'ral store
They said 'Yes, she's been here'
But their memory wasn't clear
Was it yesterday,
No, wait the day before
So I fin'ly got a ride
With a preacher man who asked
'Where you bound on such a dark afternoon?'
As we drove on thru the rain
As he listened I explained
And he left me with a prayer
That I'd find you
Recorded: 1969/02/19, first released on single
Elvis Presley must have been elated on the evening February 19th, 1969. After all, a marathon all night session just two nights earlier had proven that his initial run at Memphis' American Sound Studios the month before hadn't been a fluke. He would have had no way of knowing that he was in the midst of a period that would one day be considered one of the most important in rock history, now would he have realized how many artists would build an entire career off the resurgent energy those sessions produced. He wouldn't have been thinking along those lines. Instead it is easy to imagine that Elvis Presley probably felt more grateful than anything else, as he had to know that he hadn't delivered music this raw and powerful for vinyl since that session in 1967 that produced his take on Jerry Reed's 'Guitar Man'.
That February evening would turn out to be one of the less productive song wise of Elvis' entire run with producer Chips Moman at American Sound. While most of the sessions produced at least three master's per evening, this one only managed two, but they were both stunners. In the late part of the evening into the early morning hours, Presley would deliver a devastating version of Jerry Butler's 'Only the Strong Survive', a song that seemed to sum up his entire heroic stand at American Sound in 1969. Elvis seemed even more passionate though about the song he spent hours on in the earlier part of the evening, a haunting and eerie tale about a wanderer looking for a long lost love on a rainy Kentucky day.
Eddie Rabbitt was nearing thirty years old in 1969 and he must have been wondering when his big break was coming. The Brooklyn born artist had been building a solid reputation as one of Nashville's top songwriters throughout the mid to late sixties, but he had yet to deliver a song that he could really build a career on.
Northern Irish boy Rabbitt might have seemed an odd candidate for the Tennessee music scene, but since he was a young man he had seen a connection between America's country music and the Irish music his father had played him as a youth. Rabbitt recalled in an interview that music and writing had always been a passion of his and that he 'was 12 years old' when he penned his first song, a ballad entitled 'Susie'.
Rabbitt must have felt a long way from home in the mid-sixties as he struggled to get his words and music to quality artists. There was something special about the young and exceptionally good looking young writer though, and Chips Moman realized it and continually asked Rabbitt for material.
Rabbitt's big break came courtesy of controversial Presley co-conspirator Lamar Fike who heard a demo of Rabbit's 'Kentucky Rain' in the late part of 1968. Rabbitt recalled after months of waiting the day that Fike called him up with the news that not only did Elvis want to record the track but that he wanted to, 'put it out as his next A-Side single'. Rabbitt was stunned and said that it felt like, 'even more than a dream' and that it made him finally feel like he, 'was a songwriter after all'. In hindsight, had Eddie Rabbitt recorded 'Kentucky Rain' himself it could have easily broken him as a solo recording star, but that was to come later and even Rabbitt knew that nothing he could have done could have matched the majesty of Presley's impassioned take.
Elvis, Chips and the legendary American Sound band began working on 'Kentucky Rain' diligently just past 7:30 on that fateful February evening. Presley historian Ernst Jorgensen wrote in the book on Elvis' sessions that 'Kentucky Rain', 'wasn't an easy song for the musicians to grasp' and the recording ended up taking hours, 'to arrive at a truly accomplished rendition-but that it was worth it'.
While the American Sound band and Moman might have found Rabbitt's song tricky, Elvis fell right into its groove and all of his vocal takes that night were mesmerizing. Moman reportedly got so excited listening to Elvis' vocals during each take that he got co-producer Felton Jarvis to act, 'as a cheerleader' in efforts to, 'spur (Presley) onward' throughout the night. Just over a year before, Presley had been stuck in Hollywood recording a song about a bull, so standing in American Studios that night singing such an adult and complex song as 'Kentucky Rain' must have been a truly emotional experience for him. Of course, the story of 'Kentucky Rain' doesn't begin and end with Elvis Presley's magical vocal take. The American Studio band was arguably the best in the world in 1969, and everything from Bobby Wood's piano work to the incomparable guitar playing of Reggie Young clicks dramatically in 'Kentucky Rain'. It is one of the great American Studio recordings…a bruised, powerhouse and incredibly cinematic work that has lost none of its edge in the forty years since its release.
The song was held back for single release and was not included on either of the masterful American Sound Studio albums. It would hit stores in January, 1970 with the infectious 'My Little Friend' as it B-Side. Like the greatest of Elvis Presley's recordings, 'Kentucky Rain' blurred the lines between rock, pop and country and it made a significant dent on each chart. It landed squarely in Billboard's top twenty soon after its release and it became one of the most played songs of the year, although in hindsight it should have placed higher.
Elvis Presley loved 'Kentucky Rain' and in 1970 he brought it to Vegas for some of his legendary stands at The International and The Hilton. Live recordings of the song show what it would have sounded like had Elvis produced the cut instead of Moman. The tempo is a bit faster and more space is left for Elvis' unmatched TCB band to play with. The live versions of 'Kentucky Rain' are perhaps even more powerful than the studio take, although they lose some of the ethereal quality of the original.
Elvis liked Eddie Rabbitt a lot and he recorded two more of the songwriter's passionate and expert songs, the epic sounding 'Inherit the Wind' and the rocking 'Patch it Up'. Both songs are masterworks in their own right, but neither matches the splendor of 'Kentucky Rain'. The song not only sealed Eddie Rabbitt's name as a top songwriter, but it also helped springboard his own solo career. Throughout the seventies and eighties, Rabbitt proved to be one of the great cross-over artists and the albums he recorded in the period were remarkably well-crafted and well-performed works. Eddie would hit pay-dirt ten years after Elvis first recorded one of his songs with another tune about the rain, and the chart-topping 'I Love a Rainy Night' remains one of the coolest sounding and most resonate cross-over country songs ever recorded.
'Kentucky Rain' has been covered numerous times since Elvis' version. Eddie Rabbitt himself would tackle the song a year after Elvis passed away on his terrific 1978 album Variations. His version is heartfelt, gripping and compelling. It is a splendid tribute to both Rabbitt's ability as a singer in his own right, and Presley himself.
In the years since Elvis' death, 'Kentucky Rain' has appeared on dozen's of best-of collections and box-sets. It became one of the most thrilling cuts on the near chart topping 2nd to None in the early part of the decade, and remains a favorite to many fans all over the world. One of those fans is peerless Paul Westerberg, who began performing 'Kentucky Rain' live around the time of 2nd to None's release. Westerberg's love for Elvis has been apparent since The Replacements paid tribute to the cover of G.I. Blues with their legendary Pleased to Meet Me LP twenty years ago, and his version of 'Kentucky Rain' is a ragged triumph…sloppy, genuine, and fitting as Paul Westerberg stands along with Elvis as one of Rock's great individuals. Eddie Rabbitt and Elvis Presley would meet just once; backstage after a particularly frenzied Vegas stand in the early seventies. Rabbitt recalled that meeting an exhausted Elvis Presley was, 'short and sweet but a pleasure nonetheless.' Eddie Rabbitt sadly followed Elvis Presley into the great unknown in the early summer of 1998. His legacy of great songwriting lives on though, with 'Kentucky Rain' remaining one of his most devastating and powerful tune.
|From Elvis In Memphis LP 1969|
|Elvis Back In Memphis LP|
|Elvis Presley 1969|
Elvis has been doing all of his recording work in Nashville or Hollywood since signing with RCA. But, now he records in Memphis again for the first time since 1955. He has all-night marathon sessions at American Sound Studio.
His work here will become regarded as some of the finest music of his career, his best work since the innovative days at Sam Phillip's Sun Records and the exciting early days at RCA before he went into the army.
Inspired and invigorated by the success of his television special, Elvis walked through the door of the tiny American Sound Studios in Memphis in January 1969 to make quality music that would garner him hit records. Elvis had not recorded in his hometown since he left Sun in 1955, but the musical atmosphere at RCA's Nashville studios had become stale.
His friends and associates encouraged him to record at American Sound because Nashville would yield nothing for him at this time.
American Sound Studios, a small studio in a rundown neighborhood, was operated by Chips Moman. With Moman as producer, Elvis worked hard to record his first significant mainstream album in years.
In retrospect, From Elvis in Memphis may be his most important album because it brought his recording career back from soundtrack purgatory and set a creative standard for the next few years.
Elvis has excellent material to choose from and pours his heart and soul into the sessions. He works with a lot of top-notch Memphis musicians. The sound is fresh and gutsy. On every track one can sense his creative excitement and energy. This is joyful work after years of movie boredom.
Two albums albums From Elvis In Memphis & Back In Memphis will result from these sessions. The sessions will also yield four hit singles to be released starting later this year - 1969 - and going into 1970: 'In the Ghetto', 'Suspicious Minds', 'Don't Cry, Daddy' and 'Kentucky Rain'.
January 13, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 14, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
Come Out Come Out (Wherever You Are) (Fast - Track) XPA5 1144-02
Memory Revival (Slow - Track) XPA5 1144-04
Wearin' That Loved On Look XPA5 1145-15
You'll Think Of Me XPA5 1146-23
A Little Bit Of Green XPA5 1148-03
January 15, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 16, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 20, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 21, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
In The Ghetto XPA5 1154-23
My Little Friend (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1153-NA
Inherit The Wind (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1151-NA
Mama Liked The Roses (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1152-NA
Mama Liked The Roses (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1152-NA
I'm Movin' On (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1147-NA
Long Black Limousine (Vocal Repair) XPA5 1142-NA
Don't Cry Daddy (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1149-NA
Don't Cry Daddy (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1149-NA
Poor Man's Gold (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1150-01
Wearin' That Loved On Look (Vocal Repair) XPA5 1145-NA
You'll Think Of Me (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1146-NA
This Is The Story (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1143-NA
From A Jack To A King XPA5 1158-05
January 22, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
January 23, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 17, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
Stranger In My Own Home Town XPA5 1266-01
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road XPA5 1265-03
This Time / I Can't Stop Loving You (Informal Jam) WPA5 2513-01
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road XPA5 1265-11
February 18, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 19, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 20, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 21, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
February 22, 1969 American Sound - Memphis, Tennessee
Any Day Now (Vocal Repair) XPA5 1274-NA
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (Harmony - V.O.) XPA5 1265-NA
Power Of My Love (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1268-NA
Do You Know Who I Am? (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1270-NA
Who Am I? XPA5 1278-01
March 5, 1969 Decca Universal Studio - Universal City, California
March 5, Elvis returns to Hollywood to film and record the soundtrack music for his thirty-first, and what will turn out to be his last, acting role in a motion picture. It is Change of Habit, co-starring Mary Tyler Moore. Elvis plays a hip ghetto doctor in a Northern city, having come from Tennessee. Mary Tyler Moore and two others play nuns who go 'undercover' into the ghetto to assist with health and societal troubles in the community. The theme, though serious and timely, is not particularly well carried out by the script in the opinion of many, and the title is frivolous. But, Elvis looks magnificent, and gives a natural, easy, understated performance that is a refreshing pleasure to see after the silliness he endured in his films through most of the sixties. The few songs in the movie are good and they're performed in natural, rather than the usual badly contrived, situations.
March 6, 1969 Decca Universal Studio - Universal City, California
March, 1969, Charro! opens in theaters and doesn't do much at the box office.
September 26, 1969 RCA Studio A - Nashville, Tennessee
Let Us Pray (Vocal Replacement) ZPA4 1957-05
A Little Bit Of Green (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1148-NA
A Little Bit Of Green (Harmony - Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1148-NA
And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1267-NA
International. Hotel, Las Vegas, Nv July 1969
Starting July 31, Elvis is booked for a four-week, fifty-seven show engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, which has just been built and has the largest showroom in the city. Elvis puts together top-notch rock and roll musicians, an orchestra, a male gospel back-up group, and a black female soul/gospel back-up group for his show. They rehearse for several weeks and open on July 31, 1969. The show is a delightful mix of fresh arrangements of classic Elvis hits, exciting new material he has recorded, a few covers of current and past hits of other artists, and charming on-stage antics and sharing of personal recollections of his career. A press conference follows the first of his two opening night shows.
This engagement breaks all existing Las Vegas attendance records and attracts rave reviews from the public and the critics. It is a triumph. Elvis' first live album, Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, is recorded during this engagement and is soon released. For these shows a lean Elvis in top physical form, wears simple, unique, karate-inspired two-piece outfits in black or white. These are designed by Bill Belew, who did the wardrobe for the ‘68 special. These are the predecessors to the famous one-piece jumpsuits which will be simple at first, then become flashier and more elaborate over the years.
Find on CD : Studio
Memphis Sessions FTD CD (Alternate Take)