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Music legend Paul Anka on his new album and Elvis
The success of Rock Swings, which brought Anka a whole new wave of mainstream attention, clearly paved the way for a follow-up. The singer relished the idea of finding a new collection of tunes to reinterpret, but wanted to stretch his focus at the same time.
"Without saying I wanted to do Rock Swings 2, I felt there was a paraphrase there, and I wanted to get more into the texture of the band, thus doing Duran Duran and more of the ballads and a couple of duets," he says. "But then thereís a song like Time After Time, which has always been a ballad, from Cyndi Lauper to Miles Davis to whomever, so I wanted to take that up. As I morphed it out, I found the pocket for each of those songs, adding a slight deviation to them as we went along." (Opposite: A young Paul Anka with Elvis with an unidentified girl)
The "pocket" for Marc Cohnís Walking in Memphis didnít come so quickly to Anka; his version on Classic Songs My Way was a second attempt, after failing to find the right groove in it for Rock Swings. "The subtitle to it all, and the whole blanket that itís in, is Elvis, and it was great to relate to it in that way."
Anka is among that rare group of people that can consider themselves a friend of the late rock and roll legend ó his My Way was a significant late career hit for Presley ó and somehow it informs his take on the lyrics of Walking in Memphis, in a way few singers could realize.
"I first knew Elvis when I came in at RCA Victor, after he returned from the army," he recalls. "Then we became really close when he came to Vegas, because that was my turf. He really got into My Way towards the end of his life, for obvious reasons, and I tried to talk him out of it!
""I didnít think it was his kind of song, but in his soul he certainly knew where he was going and wanted to articulate that. Itís that kind of song for everybody, from Elvis to Sid Vicious and the common man.""
Pressed for a favourite memory of Elvis, Anka pauses for a moment, saying there are several from over the years, many of which came bubbling back to mind on the 30th anniversary of his death this summer. But one in particular seems appropriate for the snowy scene outside his hotel window.
"We were both up in Vail, Colorado, I was skiing with my family, and Elvis stayed in his room; he had the foil on his windows and you couldnít get him out of bed until three or four oíclock in the afternoon," he says.
"But heíd come out at night, and thereíd be lights on all over the mountain, and we go riding snowmobiles. Then youíd go into his suite at the Hilton, and thereíd be bullet holes all over the wall because heíd be playing with his guns. But he was a gentleman, a really good guy, he just had a problem dealing with his success getting away from him."
Whereas My Way was a sign of the falling curtain for Presley, for Anka itís been the anthem of a survivor, whose five decades in music have been marked by honours too numerous to count.
"Iím finally working on an autobiography, Iíve found a publisher I want to work with, St. Martinís Press and itís going quite well," he says.
Nice read. thanks for posting