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Interview with Mac Davis Part 2

Q: When you wrote ”Charro” were you given a song title?
A: I was just given the script and Elvis was doing the movie and Billy Strange, I guess, was doing the music and said see if you can come up with something. So I came over, typical 1960s type of theme song for a movie. ”[SINGING] You left behind the eyes of other men, Da-da-da-da, Charro!” I can’t even remember it now. I’m sure they had to pretty much hog tie Elvis to get him to cut it but that was the days when he did what the studio told him to do.
Q: When did you have your first meeting with Elvis?
A: First time I actually met him, it was the day I met the Colonel when Elvis was recording some song I’d written for one of his movies. I’m not sure if it was probably ”A Little Less Conversation.” And I went over to the studio to watch him record it and went along with Billy Strange and Colonel Parker was there and Elvis was just having fun with the gang and all the Memphis boys and Colonel Parker was sitting over here in a, like a theatre seat. They had a row of chairs there. It was like a row out of a theatre. And Colonel Parker had the only cushion. And somebody said, ”The Colonel wants to meet you.” And I said, ”You’re kidding.” You know, I said, ”Okay.” And I ran over there and he says, ”You the boy that wrote this song?” And I said, ”Yes, sir.” He goes, ”What’s your name?” And I said, ”Mac Davis.” He says, ”Bend over here and let the Colonel rub that curly head of yours.” And I said, ”Excuse me?” And all the Memphis boys say, ”Hey, let him do it.” So I did it and he rubbed my head and he said, ”Now you can tell anybody that Colonel Parker rubbed your head. You’re gonna be a star.” And I still have an old painting that the Colonel gave me long after Elvis dies. He came to see me at the Hilton when I had gone in there and it was the first time the Colonel had been back to the Hilton since Elvis had passed away. And he brought me this old painting and he had signed on the bottom of it, ”To Mac Davis whose curly head I once rubbed and told him he was gonna be a star. Signed, Colonel Parker.” And it was a copy of a painting. I thought it was typical of the Colonel. He says, ”This is my favourite painting of Elvis and I took the paper off of it.” It was a copy like on cardboard or something and it had a plastic frame on it and still had one of those little fluorescent lights attached to it at the top with the cord hanging off. So I’ve got it up in the attic somewhere.
Q: What was your inspiration for writing ”In the Ghetto”?
A ”In the Ghetto,” I’d been trying to write for years. I grew up with a little boy who lived in the ghetto and in Lubbock, Texas. We didn’t have what is commonly known now as a ghetto, but there were problems worse. It was a dirt street ghetto. And it was a part of town I could never understand why my little buddy had to live over there and I lived where I lived. And his dad did construction work with my dad and then a little boy named Al Smith really kind of grew up together. And I’d always wanted to write a song about it and really the word ghetto didn’t even come into prominence until the late sixties, other than referring to Jewish ghettos in Poland and as such. And I had always wanted to write a song called ”The Vicious Circle.” I always thought it was like, you know, the kids are born there, they grow up there, they die there, another kids born to replace them and just one day I started thinking about the ghetto as a title for the song. And the same day, a friend of mine named Freddy Weller showed me a lick on the guitar that he was playing and I thought it seemed like, and I took it home that night and I wrote this song. And that’s where it came from, basically.
Q: Were you pitching it to Elvis? How did Elvis find it?
A: Elvis, I didn’t, actually nobody even dreamed of pitching it to him in the beginning. Anything, if they asked me if I had a song and Elvis was cutting, I mean, I gave them everything I had. And that’s what they were after the special did so well, I went on down to Memphis to do an album and Chips Moman was producing it and they called and asked if I had anything, you know, for Elvis and I said, ”Sure.” So I sent them a tape. They had nineteen songs on it and they recorded the first three songs on there. ”In the Ghetto,” ”Don’t Cry, Daddy” and another song called ”Poor Man’s Gold,” which they never did release. But ”Don’t Cry Daddy,” Elvis had told me that the first time I went over to his house he was gonna record that. I played it to him over there. I’ll never forget him. They got real quiet, you know. ”Don’t Cry Daddy” is a pretty sad song. He got to the end of it and it was just real quiet and Elvis says, ”I’m gonna cut that someday for my daddy.” And, by god, he did. He lived up to his word.

Source: Elvis world Japan

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