Sunday, June 28, 2015


There’s an old story that’s been around for years that Elvis Presley and his ilk ruined country music by capturing the hearts and minds of formerly country record buying youth, probably propagated by fading country singers, and so they had to invent the Nashville Sound to compete for those record and live appearance dollars. David Cantwell, in Heartaches by the Number, puts forth an intriguing counter argument: That Elvis, in a way, actually invented the Nashville Sound via some of his early RCA singles. “Don’t Be Cruel” . . . “included all of the defining characteristics of the Nashville Sound. The spare instrumentation and restrained playing that left lots of open spaces; the at-ease yet crisply defined production with just a touch of echo; the singer’s voice (and the bass) way out front in the mix; the backing bop-bop-bop vocals by the Jordanaires, the ‘head’ arrangements devised on the spot by the musicians; and, of course, no fiddle and no pedal steel. . . . the result was a new kind of rock & roll, a new kind of pop, and the beginnings of what would be a new kind of country music.” I kind of like that.

5.  Don’t Be Cruel • Elvis Presley • 1956

Elvis Presley, vocal/guitar; Scotty Moore, guitar; Bill Black, bass; D. J. Fontana, drums; Shorty Long, piano; The Jordanaires, vocals. New York City, 2 July 1956

“Don’t Be Cruel” is on the Elvis Presley collection Artist of the Century.

Italian picture sleeve:


  1. I like it too, Frank!

    This record never fails to get me bopping around in my chair (and occasionally out on the carpet.)

    I've been enjoying "Heartaches By the Number." It's such a fun read and I'm glad you recommended it to me.

    1. This one was an instant stop dead in your tracks listen when I was 10, it's maybe even more so now.

      Glad you're enjoying the book (attention David Cantwell) and the BAK series based on it. . . .