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Thread: Hidden Symbolism in "Unchained Melody" 1977 CBS Special "Elvis in Concert"

  1. #1

    Hidden Symbolism in "Unchained Melody" 1977 CBS Special "Elvis in Concert"

    In a previous thread..I discussed the perfection of ALOHA...
    Now I would like to open for discussion the impact of Elvis' performance of "Unchained Melody" in the CBS Special..1977
    *I believe that for a brief moment,starting right after Elvis says to Charlie "Help me with it...." we see the true Elvis Presley..
    maybe the ONLY time ever captured on film with such clarity..
    Charlie tries to hide his concern...you can see his nervous facial expressions..
    yet....
    As the camera zooms in on Elvis' swollen face,sweat pouring off him into the microphone...he manages to reach down in the depths of his being..totally engulfed in the song..and the performance...
    beating the odds...one last time...pulling off a BRILLIANT rendition of the song..
    I have watched this clip 100's of times..and I'm speechless every time I see it..
    and the look on his face after the last note says it all...just like the fist punch in ALOHA..
    "I did it"
    to me...Aloha was Elvis in perfection..
    "Unchained Melody" CBS SPECIAL was the crowning jewel for a dying man.


  2. #2
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    Well written. It's a stunning performance, one that actually makes me cry.
    rick

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    From Elvis Presley Blvd Lonniebealestreet's Avatar
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    Agreed.

    To me it's unfathomable how that performance was not included in the special. I've heard that the CBS execs thought the closeups of him there were very unflattering, but actually I think he looks quite good in profile there, better than in many other instances in the special. And even if that were true, it should have been included because it was such a moving performance. And beyond that, why not put it on the album?

    Great summary of the performance. When I first watched it I observed this, and I've heard others say almost the same thing...but when he--as you say--reaches down in the depths of his being, there was just no stopping his soul, the pure Elvis, from shining through. It was like he broke through all the health problems, the medication, and anything else that might have hindered him vocally or otherwise, and Elvis the ultimate performer was there, singing like there was no tomorrow...which was more or less the case.
    ...you won't forget me when I go.

  4. #4
    TCB Mafia Joe Car's Avatar
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    Well said Howard, I also thought it was as brilliant and gutsy a performance as you'll ever see. Welcome to the board btw!

  5. #5
    I'm with you, Howard. Absolutely.

    And I agree with Rick. This great performance makes me cry...
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  6. #6
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    Very well written ...its a personal favourite of mine....one which i watch and indeed just listen too one hell of a lot.
    You have descibed it just as i feel it...an absolute stunner of a performance from Elvis....giving it his all to the very end.

    There are alot of people put off by Elvis in parts of '76 and most of '77. I, on the other hand have a soft spot for it. It was part of Elvis' life and one that is all but ignored by EPE and more so BMG. Such a shame
    TCB Chris.

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  7. #7
    Heartbreak Hotel, Room 11 Albert's Avatar
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    It has been written even in newspapers in 1976/1977 that the Elvis Presley show during those years wasn't fantastic. He relied on the love of the audience and the knowledge that they take anything for granted from the King ("the only thing I need to do is show up and do 'well, well, well'..."). Many shows during those two years were not much more than a few very bad performances of old classics, long, long introductions of the band and much attention of Elvis to the first rows.

    But even in those negative newspaper reports (that were -in my opinion- closer to reality than the 'good show, good show' remarks from the Memphis Maffia), they were amazed how extremely good Elvis was during a few gospels and ballads. How is it possible that a man who does a show on the automatic pilot, comes suddenly alive while singing songs like Hurt, Unchained Melody or How Great Thou Art?

    It think this has to do with the "It's very hard to live up to an image" remark from Elvis in 1972. The whole show was a prison of the image of Elvis. An image that he didn't know to escape from. But with songs like these he escaped that prison and showed the audience a rare glimps at his soul...
    ‎"A year from now, you'll wish you had started today"

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert
    It has been written even in newspapers in 1976/1977 that the Elvis Presley show during those years wasn't fantastic. He relied on the love of the audience and the knowledge that they take anything for granted from the King ("the only thing I need to do is show up and do 'well, well, well'..."). Many shows during those two years were not much more than a few very bad performances of old classics, long, long introductions of the band and much attention of Elvis to the first rows.

    But even in those negative newspaper reports (that were -in my opinion- closer to reality than the 'good show, good show' remarks from the Memphis Maffia), they were amazed how extremely good Elvis was during a few gospels and ballads. How is it possible that a man who does a show on the automatic pilot, comes suddenly alive while singing songs like Hurt, Unchained Melody or How Great Thou Art?

    It think this has to do with the "It's very hard to live up to an image" remark from Elvis in 1972. The whole show was a prison of the image of Elvis. An image that he didn't know to escape from. But with songs like these he escaped the prison and showed to audience a rare glimps at his soul...
    Good analysis, especially the last line.

  9. #9
    TCB Mafia P.S. Annie's Avatar
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    Very well said Howard and Bobby. The performance brings tears in my eyes but also the way you described it.

  10. #10
    I think this photo is appropriate in this thread....



    TCB...
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  11. #11
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    this was his ultimate farewell...he was saying goodbye from his soul to the world and saying he was going home--to god.

    "i'll be coming home...wait for meeee!"

    i mean ive heard the righteous brothers version so many times, and the meaning is COMPLETELY different. the righteous brothers have a love song, elvis has a song where he is saying goodbye.

    this one makes me cry buckets.

    his soul is so bright and beautiful, that maybe he doesnt appear model-beautiful, but its a beauty much greater than that. its his inner beauty shining outward...i mean you feel that song when he sings it...

    and the perfection is when he smiles at charlie then the camera...i mean you see this bright twinkling smile...its just incredible.
    "Elvis, we're talking about shooting from the waist down, and not being able to touch hands with body, or body with hands, excuse me. I just got this show off the air boy"

  12. #12
    Cadillac King richardo316's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by howardrobardhughes
    In a previous thread..I discussed the perfection of ALOHA...
    Now I would like to open for discussion the impact of Elvis' performance of "Unchained Melody" in the CBS Special..1977
    *I believe that for a brief moment,starting right after Elvis says to Charlie "Help me with it...." we see the true Elvis Presley..
    maybe the ONLY time ever captured on film with such clarity..
    Charlie tries to hide his concern...you can see his nervous facial expressions..
    yet....
    As the camera zooms in on Elvis' swollen face,sweat pouring off him into the microphone...he manages to reach down in the depths of his being..totally engulfed in the song..and the performance...
    beating the odds...one last time...pulling off a BRILLIANT rendition of the song..
    I have watched this clip 100's of times..and I'm speechless every time I see it..
    and the look on his face after the last note says it all...just like the fist punch in ALOHA..
    "I did it"
    to me...Aloha was Elvis in perfection..
    "Unchained Melody" CBS SPECIAL was the crowning jewel for a dying man.
    i have to agree, i think next to my way at the same show it is probably the best performance he gave that evening.

  13. #13
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    the best summary i have ever read about that performance. he truly was reaching for everything he had.... and achived it! anyone who could look at that footage elvis fan or not and not be moved by it, does not have any emotions. to me that performance is his swan song. and it is a disgrace that it was cut from the final edit of the cbs special. i guess they wanted more time for the interviews with the fans!!! . have a great weekend, simmerrocks

  14. #14
    Very striking remarks here...

    In my "early" Elvis-fan-period (not too long ago btw..) I already thought of this moment (Elvis doing Unchained Melody in the CBS special) as his last goodbye....just got that feeling too!

    Adios.

  15. #15
    International Level Menwithbrokenhearts's Avatar
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    I know I am late, late, late on this thread. But, i just watched this show and along with My Way and How Great Thou ARt, this performance is worth owning this show for. Great analysis from everyone on this thread and I couldn't agree more! His interpretation of Unchained Melody is heart wrenching and beautiful at the same time. A thing to behold, and a fitting swan song and goodbye to all us fans. He had every right to smile and be proud of it! I can only imagine that those times were few and far between during that last year. Thank you Elvis!!!
    Got my family, my kids, my books and my music, I'm good, yeah, I'm good.....

  16. #16
    Cadillac King orwell1976's Avatar
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    Although I wouldn't call it a hidden symbolism Elvis' performance of Unchained Melody is still great. His body wasn't working well, but his voice was still intact. During the first lines he seems to be pretty out of breath, but then he showed that he could still do it. When he came to the line "...time goes by so slowly..." he just looked to Charlie and said "Help me with it". But no one knows how Elvis meant that comment, if it was serious or just one of his many remarks he made during his shows.

  17. #17
    PeacockLady Diane's Avatar
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    I'm late on this too but that particular scene was the one that did me in. Didn't he also look at Charlie at the end as if to say "I made it through and it sounded good didn't it?" It's been a while since I've looked at this video as I can't take it very often but yes I agree, it was a wonderful swan song and he should be remembered for all he put into it and showed the world he was still able to come through.

  18. #18
    Cadillac King amzietamzie's Avatar
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    I agree with what everyone has said...

    I weep buckets when I watch this video. There are no words to explain how I feel when I watch it.

    Elvis depended on his fans in those last few years and in the CBS concert, although I do feel sadness in seeing Elvis so unwell, I feel compelled to enjoy the concert, as he would have wanted. He did it for us so I feel we should appreciate what he did and how he did it, even if it is upsetting. He was STILL BEAUTIFUL, LOVELY and TALENTED and he was still the KING. Nothing can take that away from him.

    Unchained Melody, to me, is an emblem of Elvis' talent, warmth and beauty.

    My heart aches to see him looking so unwell, yet his voice is so powerful and beautiful that it completely takes me over. The way he plays the piano and sings... it's like he's the only person in the world. He's taken into a whole world of his own and the only time we see him pulled back into reality is when he says "Help me with it"- he seems unsure.

    When he smiles at us and Charlie, I simply cannot explain what that means. When he smiles at the camera, I literally collapse. It's such a genuine, true and happy smile. He should be happy with his song and the way he's singing it. The smile with Charlie, however, is so much more than that. You're right- that's the real, true Elvis.

    He completely loses himself in the song and when he reaches that note... that high note that he was so scared about missing... I feel such pride and then I start sobbing again! It's just too beautitful.

    I've shown my non-Elvis-fan friends this video and they had to stifle back tears. His voice is just... it's just... stunning, wonderful, beautiful, amazing... I could go on and on. And he is still beautiful. He was right to the end. Even when he wasn't looking his best, he still had that look. A twinkle in his eye and a genuine, true, warm style. His beauty innate in his inside emerged on his outer appearence so that he was gorgeous every day, all day.

    The part that I love the most is when he takes that huge, deep breath and holds that beautful note ("still more, iiiiii... need your love" bit). I also love the "yep" he says at the end- he's so proud! The smiles through the song are also out of this world. You're right- at the end of the song it is an "aloha punch" moment.

    When I first saw this video, I was a beginner Elvis fan. At first I was a bit wary of it but now I love it so much- it's one of my favourite perfomances. Although, as it makes me so emotional, and has such great meaning and feeling behind it, I don't watch it as much as others- that is not to say it is not worthy.

    In this performance I think we see a glimpse into Elvis' soul. You're right... it's like his goodbye. I think it is fitting that this perfomance was made right at the end- it just proves that he was the eternal King and his talent was out of this world- right to his last breath.

  19. #19
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    Like Diane, I can't watch this video too often, it brings me to tears, it hurts my heart, but I can't stay away from it either, it is BRILLIANT! A rainbow of emotions.

  20. #20
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    hum..it makes the world realize that Elvis Presley was just a normal human being like the others. Very sad but now it is part of the history and the legend.
    Have a nice day, Bogarcon

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