How a Song Written for Elvis became New Again

 

The saying goes that everything old is new again. I believe the same holds true for anyone out there who is Living the Dream! Paul Evans has had an amazing career writing hit songs for Bobby Vinton, Reba McEntire, Fabian, and several others. He probably never dreamed that a song he wrote back in the 1960s would have new life so many decades later. Yet here we are, and the story of how this happened is just too good not to share.

In the early 1960s, Paul Evans wrote a song called “After The Hurricane” (co-written by Al Byron.) with Elvis Presley in mind. Once complete, Paul presented the demo to Freddy Bienstock, in New York, at the Hill & Range Publishing Company. Freddy was an American music publisher who built his career in music by being the person responsible for soliciting and selecting songs for Elvis Presley’s early albums and films. Freddy liked “After The Hurricane” and told Paul he would be interested in presenting it to Elvis. From there Paul took the song back to his manager and publisher, asking him to release the rights to it – so that Elvis Presley could possibly record it. Paul’s manager/publisher thought that the song would be better suited as a hit for Paul to record without releasing it to Elvis. This would not have been what Paul Evans or his co-writer, Al Byron, preferred. They both had Elvis in mind for “After The Hurricane.” Regardless, the song never made it to Elvis and was instead recorded and released with Paul Evans as the singer.

In Paul’s own words, “It was a nice record, it got some play, but it was not nearly a hit, and that is where the story could have ended back in the early ’60s.” Fortunately for us though, in 2015, online radio talk show host Lee Douglas presented the idea to Elvis Tribute Artist, Peter Alden, to sing and record “After The Hurricane” in an Elvis style. Peter was excited and thrilled at this proposition, and Paul Evans loved the idea as well. Peter has put his own flavor to the song and recorded it with an Elvis 1960’s “sound” but at the same time, not trying too hard to imitate Elvis directly. The result of this wonderful experiment can now be heard (and purchased!) at CDBaby: After The Hurricane
Check out Episode #716 of Old Time Rock ‘n Roll where online radio show host Lee Douglas interview both Paul Evans and Peter Alden about how this incredible recording came to be. All three gentleman involved gave their opinions and thoughts on the song and more. This fascinating interview plus wonderful hits from the 1950s and 1960s is worth the listen. Lee Douglas Interview

Paul Evans is the writer of many classic rock songs, including ‘WHEN’ for the Kalin Twins, ‘ROSES ARE RED’ for Bobby Vinton, and ‘I GOTTA KNOW’ for Elvis Presley. He was also a co-writer on ‘MOODY BLUE’ for Elvis. He had success as a recording artist with the songs ‘HAPPY-GO-LUCKY ME’ & ‘SEVEN LITTLE GIRLS’. In the early sixties he penned a song entitled ‘AFTER THE HURRICANE’, it was intended for Elvis Presley. Through a strange series of events, Elvis never got the chance to record the song.

Through the years Paul had always wondered what Elvis might have sounded like on the song. A mutual friend of Paul’s, Old Time Rock & Roll radio host Lee Douglas, discussed with Peter Alden about recording a new version of the song to see what might happen. Peter jumped at the opportunity, and we present here the finalized version. Keeping with the ‘Elvis-feel’ but certainly making it his own, we think you will certainly enjoy this brand new version!

Since we just had a visit from IRMA, I thought this would be a great time to re-introduce a song I recorded, that was intended for Elvis Presley called AFTER THE HURRICANE!
It was written by Paul Evans (who also wrote “I Gotta Know” and “Blue River” for Elvis). Elvis never got it, but I did and with the help of my buddy Terry Fulwider, we came out with an (in my opinion) great tune!!
Ask me about getting a free download card!!
You can hear a sample here!!:
Peter Alden Music… After the Hurricane

Talent is expressed in many ways with music. Elvis was an incredible stage performer and would wrap himself around a sweet lyric, making you, the listener, feel he is speaking directly to you as a friend. His image is the strongest in Rock and Roll music, yet he never wrote his own songs. But he didn’t need to. People like Leiber & Stoller, Pomus & Shuman, and Schroeder & Gold, among others, could write musical content just for him and his style. Some of Elvis’ early songs were covers of early Doo-Wop.
One of Elvis’ underrated writers is Paul Evans. I would call Paul an ‘unsung’ hero, but that would be incorrect, as so many artists have recorded his songs.

Paul Evans’ new CD, ‘Happy Go Lucky Me – The Paul Evans Songbook’ (Castle Music #CMRCD715), brings us an amazing and long-awaited selection of songs. It includes for the first time anywhere, the demo recordings of ‘Something Blue’ and ‘The Next Step Is Love’. These were the demos that Elvis heard himself. I know what some people think of demos, but these are full band arrangements and you can hear where Elvis and his band followed them. Also included are two songs Elvis was holding at the time of his death, ‘Tender Moments’ and ‘Quiet Desperation’.

Listening to them, you can really imagine Elvis singing these songs. What a shame for us fans that he never had the chance. Paul also wrote ‘Blue River’ and ‘I Gotta Know’. (There’s a ‘live’ version of the song by Paul on the CD).

Paul wrote many other classics, including ‘Roses Are Red (My Love)’ Bobby Vinton – ‘Worried Guy’, Johnny Tillotson – ‘Johnny Will’ Pat Boone – ‘When’ The Kalin Twins – ‘The P.T.A.’ The Coasters – ‘Dix-a-billy’ LaVern Baker – Also Bobby Vee, Burl Ives, Roy Clark, Skeeter Davis, Frankie Lymon, Jackie Wilson, Jimmy Dean, Fabian, Reba McEntire, Nicky and The Nobles, Jim Reeves, Freddy Fender, Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, Lulu, Cliff Richard, Count Basie and many others. The CD includes Paul’s 50s and 60s hit recordings, ‘Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat’, ‘Midnight Special’, and ‘Happy Go Lucky Me’ (which was the theme of John Waters’ cult classic, ‘Pecker’). Also, the 1978 UK hit ‘Hello, This is Joannie’ and a great discovery of an unreleased 1957 Session for RCA!

The sound on this Sanctuary CD is the best you can get. The artwork by Paul Bevoir shows amazing original 45rpm labels, photos, and many rare items including the ‘Something Blue’ picture sleeve. Very detailed and well-written notes by Roger Dopson. What a treat to finally hear the writer’s demos of Elvis’ songs.

Sure miss Elvis. He was one-of-a-kind. I’m glad that Paul Evans and Elvis sounded so good sharing their talents.

More about writing for Elvis: Paul Evans… Elvis

“I Gotta Know”

Elvis had recorded my song, “I Gotta Know”, co-written with Matt Williams. Matt and I were called into the offices of the publisher, Hill and Range Songs.
Matt didn’t show up.

“Paul,” the publishers explained to me, “we don’t know when or even if your song will be released. We’d like to have it recorded by a new kid we think highly of. His first record will be heavily promoted. But if this new artist’s version is released, Elvis’ version will never see the light of day. The decision is up to you.”
My answer was fast and clear. “I want Elvis!” End of discussion.

The new kid was Fabian. His first release was the smash, “Turn Me Loose”. Our Presley record was still not out. My co-writer, Matt, was angry with me because we might have had Fabian’s first release.

Finally, Elvis’s “I Gotta Know” was released. It made it to # 14 on the charts and was on the other side of “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, the # 1 smash. Our first check was based on sales of one and a half million records. Matt was no longer angry with me.

(I found out later during an interview with Trevor Cajiao of the U.K. magazine, “Elvis – the Man and His Music”, that Cliff Richard had cut the song in September 1959, prior to Elvis recording it in April 1960. I’m not clear why that didn’t preclude an Elvis release.)

Writing for Elvis
Writers would hear that Elvis had a session planned. So we’d write for him, show the songs to Hill and Range and demo the songs they chose. We had to be careful to make our demos sound like an Elvis recording. The singer had to approximate Elvis (I sang on my demos and on demos for some other writers who wanted to pitch a song to Elvis but couldn’t sing like him.) and the arrangement had to sound like an Elvis arrangement. The final Elvis recording would often be just an improved version of the demo.

We were looking for a “sound” for “I Gotta Know”. Larry Schnapf, our Associated Recording Studios engineer suggested, “Shoobee Doobee Wha Wha” and we sang those syllables. Check out the Elvis record. What did the singers sing? “Shoobee Doobee Wha Wha”.

Writers and Hill and Range
The Colonel had struck a deal making Hill and Range Elvis’ exclusive publisher. Up until Elvis reached out of this firm for “Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto”, if you wanted Elvis, you went to Hill and Range. Writers who showed songs for Elvis knew the drill. If the powers-that-be chose your song, one-third of the writing credits went to Elvis Presley. For the most part, I ducked that give-back by either not returning phone calls or breaking appointments at Hill and Range. I was finally cornered by their attorney who shoved a paper in front of my nose. It was a blanket agreement, assigning one-third of your share of songs cut by Elvis to Elvis and was signed by a shocking group of successful New York writers. “Kid,” he glared, “you can’t duck this anymore. Sign it or else forget about any more Presley recordings.”

We went into Freddie Bienstock’s office. Freddie was the writer contact at the publishing office. “Freddie,” I complained, “you promised that I wouldn’t have to give up any of my writing credit (or royalties) to get Elvis.”

“I promised you that?” he asked. And when I swore that he had, he turned to the attorney and instructed him that “This man does not have to sign that agreement.” Hill and Range eventually tore up that onerous agreement and Freddie told me that my stance was partly responsible for the change.

My Elvis catalog
Elvis cut four songs of mine. “I Gotta Know”,

I Gotta Know

“Blue River” (co-written with Fred Tobias)

Elvis Blue-River

and “The Next Step Is Love” (co-written with Paul Parnes) were released as singles around the world.

The Next Step is Love

“Something Blue” (co-written with Al Byron, who wrote “Roses Are Red, My Love” with me) was released in the album “Pot Luck” here at home but as a single in the U.K.

Something Blue
When he passed away, Elvis was holding two songs of mine. One of them, “Quiet Desperation”, was based on a quote from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”, and would have made a spectacular Elvis record.

“Elvis – That’s the Way It Is”
“The Next Step Is Love” weaves its way through a few scenes in the movie. During a rehearsal scene, Elvis was clowning around and sang, “The Next Step Is Sex”. Seeing Elvis as he sang my song – that was a thrill.
Elvis – That’s the Way It Is

In Conclusion
I never met the man. In spite of my good relationship with Elvis’ producer, Felton Jarvis, Elvis’ sessions were closed and even Felton couldn’t get me in.

Elvis inspired the Rockabilly singers who followed him. The Rockabilly singers inspired me to try my hand at recording.
But first there was Elvis – and then there was everybody else.

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