Monday, 11 May 2015

Don't Cry Daddy / In The Ghetto - 13 August 1970 Dinner Show

When the Lost Performances was released on home video in 1992 we all sat with mouths wide open at what we were seeing. Here in front of us, salvaged from an MGM vault contained within a disused salt line in Kansas and found during a routine inspection in 1986, was footage from TWII and On Tour that many suspected but never knew for ceratin existed. As the DVD sets 'TTWII - The Complete Works' and 'On Tour - behind the scenes' proved, it was only the tip of the iceberg.

The highlight of these new performances was regarded by many as being the back to back renditions of 'Don't Cry Daddy' and 'In The Ghetto' from the dinner show on 13 Auhust and seamlessly fused together almost as one.

Both songs were composed by Mac Davis and both recorded by Elvis at American Sound Studios in Memphis, Tennessee in 1969. 'Don't Cry Daddy' was the first to be recorded on 15 January and it is a song with a powerful narrative. The song tells the story from the mind of the protaganist and how he is struggling to cope with the loss of his wife or partner, whether through death or divorce is open to interpretaion, but it seems only the pleas of his young son are helping him to continue on.

'Don't Cry Daddy' was introduced to the setlist during the opening show of the previous Vegas engagement and almost always the fourth song sung during these shows. It was sung at every show at the Houston Astrodome but was sung only once during the August 1970 Vegas engagement and this would also be the final time it would be sung live by Elvis.

'In The Ghetto' on the other hand was a song with a completely different premise and one which was completely out of the 'Elvis comfort zone' in that it was a protest song dealing with social injustice and not an area Elvis would normally venture.
In spite of these reservations, Elvis recorded it on 20 January 1969 in American Sound Studios and it was a worldwide hit and reamains one of his most critically acclaimed recordings. It was included in the Elvis live show from the first Vegas show on 31 July 1969 and would be sung at virtually every show for the next year, which incorporated the six shows at the Houston Astrodome and the Jan/Feb 70 Vegas engagement. It would only be performed a further six times thereafter, this solo appearance during August 70, at five shows during the September 70 tour and finally in Vegas at the midnight show on 19 February 1971.

Here are the words of the song's composer Mac Davis on the song's inception and how it was originallly titled 'The Vicious Circle' :

'I never really dreamed of pitching that song to Elvis. I had been working on In the Ghetto for several years. I grew up playing with a little boy in Lubbock, Texas, whose family lived in a dirt street ghetto. His dad and my dad worked in construction together. So that little boy and I sort of grew up together. I never understood why his family had to live where they lived while my family lived where we lived. Of course back in those days, the word 'ghetto' hadn't come along yet. But I always wanted to write a song about that situation and title it 'The Vicious Circle.
I thought that if you were born in that place and that situation, then you grow up there and one day you die there, and another kid is born there that kind of replaces you. And later I started thinking about the ghetto as a title for the song. In the meantime, Freddy Weller had showed me a guitar lick he had been playing. I liked the lick and went home one night and used that guitar lick and wrote that song'. 'I didn't write the song for anyone in particular, but later while I was working on an album in Memphis, Chips Moman called me and said Elvis was recording and asked me if I had any songs for him. So I sent him a tape with 19 songs on it and Elvis recorded the first three songs on the tape, In the Ghetto, Don't Cry Daddy and another song they never released titled Poor Man's Gold. A lot of people have asked me about Elvis talking to me about In the Ghetto. I don't think we ever had a conversation about that song ... either before or after he recorded it'.

The audio in this video has been replaced with superior audio from Sony's TTWII Deluxe Edition's disc #7 containing this performance and the show from which it was performed.

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