Sunday, July 8, 2012

Elvis Covers Part I: Money Honey

Ry Cooder: Money Honey

For what it's worth, I was brought up equating the subject of our postings this week (The King) with his gyrations: Elvis the Pelvis. As someone who claims Ry Cooder as a great influence, I learned this week how little I really know (one of the ongoing personal benefits I am reaping by joining SMM). I'll take comfort in the quote attributed to Socrates that "wisdom is knowing how little we know."

Money Honey was written by Jesse Stone back in '53 when he was working with/for Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records. The song has been covered by Eddie Cochran, The Jackson 5, The Coasters and Clyde McPhatter (with the Drifters). There's a Bob Dylan version, too, apparently recorded in 1994. Lady Gaga also does a tune of the same name, but it isn't this song. And then there's this version:

Ry has covered other Elvis hits: Little Sister (on Bop Til You Drop -1979), All Shook Up (Get Rhythm -1987), and Blue Suede Shoes (The Slide Area -1982). On his 1971 second album, Into the Purple Valley, he covered Money Honey, a song Elvis did back in 1955. (It's also included on a Cooder "best of" CD called Why Don't You Try Me ..")

The Elvis version is classic late-50s: the guitar is elemental electric (kinda raw); the production is sparse, but the King is in the house with a great song. I confess I never collected Elvis, but I happen to have a copy of the Drifters' version which isn't too far off the mark of the Elvis version. I would like to think that Cooder was partially inspired by the Elvis version and certainly thank him for bringing it to life for me.

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