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That's All Right, Mama

Elvis Presley Lyrics Words & Music by Arthur Crudup Elvis Presley Lyrics

'That's All Right' was written and originally recorded by Arthur Crudup in 1946 as 'That's All Right, Mama'.

'That's All Right' was the first single released by Elvis Presley, recorded in July 1954, and released on 19 July 1954 with 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' as the B-side. Its catalogue number was Sun 209. The label reads 'That's All Right' (omitting 'Mama' from the original title), and names the performers as Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Arthur Crudup is also listed on this label, giving him credit for authorship.

Recorded at Sun Studio in 1954 with Elvis Presley providing vocals and rhythm guitar, Scotty Moore on lead guitar, and Bill Black on upright 'slap' bass. It was produced by Sam Phillips in the style of a 'live' recording. The recording contains no drums or additional instruments. Upon finishing the recording session, according to Scotty Moore, Bill Black remarked, 'Damn. Get that on the radio and they'll run us out of town'.

The recording session was Presley's fourth visit to the Sun Studio.

His first two visits, the summer of 1953 and January 1954, had been private recordings.

That's All Right, Mama | Lyrics

Well, that's all right, mama
That's all right for you
That's all right mama, just anyway you do
Well, that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, anyway you do

Mama she done told me,
Papa done told me too
'Son, that gal your foolin' with,
She ain't no good for you'
But, that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, anyway you do

I'm leaving town, baby
I'm leaving town for sure
Well, then you won't be bothered with
Me hanging 'round your door
Well, that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, anyway you do

Recorded: 1954/07, first released on single

July 5, 1954 Sun Studio - Memphis, Tennessee

Harbor Lights EPA3 2742-02
I Love You Because G2WB 1086-SP
That's All Right F2WB 8040-NA

Monday, July 5, The three of them went to the Sun studio because Sam Philips wanted to hear them on tape. Recently developed, magnetic recording tape made it possible for them to do one take of a song, listen to it, then make adjustments for the next take. Nothing special happened at the session until Presley began fooling around and playing an obscure 1946 blues song, 'That's Al Right', during a break.

Elvis started singing Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup's blues song, 'That's All Right', with a fast rhythm and in a more casual style than most blues songs, and Moore and Black jumped in. Phillips' voice boomed out from the control booth, 'What are you doing?' None of them really knew. How could they?

How could they know that they had stumbled onto a new sound for a new generation?

Sam recognized it right away. He was amazed that the boy even knew Arthur 'BigBoy' Crudup - nothing in any of the songs he had tried so far gave any indication that he was drawn to this kind of music at all. But this was the sort of music that Sam had long ago whole heartedly embraced ... And the way the boy performed it, it came across with a freshness and an exuberance, it came across with the kind of clear-eyed, unabashed originality that Sam sought in all the music that he recorded - it was 'different', it was itself.

Phillips was excited about the trio's sound and recognized its potential. He asked them to refine their unique interpretation of 'That's All Right', and then he recorded it.

Above - In 1972 during taping of the Elvis On Tour movie, Elvis talked about making his first record for his mother. Elvis also talks about first time he appeared on stage and about the reaction to his movements while performing. Referring to his his performance of Teresa Brewer's 'Till I Waltz Again with You' at Humes High in 1953, Elvis said, 'It was amazing how popular I became at school after that'.

Scotty Moore says that it was Bill Black that came up with the flip side for what would be their first record. It was their rendition of the bluegrass standard 'Blue Moon of Kentucky', made famous by Bill Monroe.

Elvis syncopated certain lyrics, using a sort of hiccupping sound, while Sam Phillips added a reverberation, resulting in the famous echo effect. Elvis' style became the basis of 'rockabilly', the fusion of country music (commonly called hillbilly music) with a rhythm-and-blues sound that has been relaxed and speeded up, or 'rocked'. The term 'rockabilly' was not widely known until after Elvis became a household name.

At the time he cut his first record for Sun, there was no word that could adequately describe his style of music. When the press attempted to explain his sound, they usually made a mess of it, often confusing their readers with inappropriate or comical comparisons to other types of music.

July 7, After a brief and unsuccessful session, Sam plays an acetate of 'That's All Right' for DJ Dewey Phillips, who flips over the song and vows to play it on his show the following evening.

July 8, Sam Philips brings WHBQ disc jockey Dewey Philips (No relation) two one sided acetates of the song 'That's All Right' to play on his ground-breaking Memphis radio show, 'Red Hot and Blue', then near the height of its popularity. The response was immediate—hundreds of phone calls and telegrams. Wink Martindale Elvis Presley Video is in the studio at this time visiting Dewey. 'You could tell that something exciting was going on when the record was played', says Wink. (Wink was the morning DJ at WHBQ)

Gladys and Vernon listen to Dewey's evening show in anticipation of hearing their son on the radio.

Elvis goes to the movies a few blocks away.

When Dewey plays the acetate the switchboard lights up and he continues to play the song over and over again, calling the Presley home trying to get Elvis down to the studio. Gladys and Vernon go to the movie theater and finally locating Elvis send him down to the radio station. When a nervous Elvis finally appears Dewey makes casual conversation with him, not informing him until afterward that they have been on the air.

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