Soul-Music Legend David Porter Talks About Elvis Presley: The Searcher

By: Elvis Australia
April 15, 2018

He was a boy from Tupelo who grew up to become the biggest star in music. Along the way, he absorbed a staggering range of influences, creating a revolutionary sound in his lifelong search for self-expression.

Following his creative journey from childhood through the final 1976 Jungle Room recording sessions, the two-part presentation Elvis Presley: The Searcher includes stunning atmospheric shots taken inside Graceland, Elvis' iconic home, and features more than 20 new, primary source interviews with session players, producers, engineers, directors and other artists who knew him or who were profoundly influenced by him, as well as never-before-seen photos and footage from private collections worldwide.

Memphis soul-music legend David Porter, the co-author of such classic hits as 'Hold On! I'm Coming' and 'Soul Man', recently took time to offer his thoughts on Elvis.

Q: You were a teenager when Elvis became a star. What were your initial impressions of him?

David Porter: This was a white kid in the 1950s going on Beale Street, learning from masters of black music like Roy Hamilton, Jackie Wilson and others. He was different, interesting, but not something you felt the magnitude of at first - not until you heard Dewey Phillips playing 'That's All Right' on [his radio show] 'Red, Hot & Blue'. Hearing what he was doing, singing black music with a confidence and a uniqueness, made me and other African-American talents say, 'This guy has something'. And he did!

Q: Did you initially see his r'n'b covers as a respectful borrowing, or a weaker copy of THE ORIGINALS (like Pat Boone) diluted for the white audience? What did your fellow musicians think of him?

David Porter: We felt that maybe he was opening up a market that had been not fully opening up to black music, breaking down barriers to a greater appreciation of what black music truly was. That opened up more doors for artists like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Brook Benton and so many others. He was not Pat Boone, because he was soulfully expressing the songs with an r'n'b flair, showing what black music was through his perspective.

STAX legend David Porter (Sam & Dave/ Carla Thomas) with Isaac Hayes.
STAX legend David Porter (Sam & Dave/ Carla Thomas) with Isaac Hayes.

Q: Even if it wasn't Elvis' conscious goal to break down boundaries for his audience, it seems like that's what he did.

David Porter: What Elvis did for me was cement in my mind the great potential reach of r'n'b and soul music. The credibility that he bought to it, whether he viewed it that way or not, doesn't matter, because this was the net result.

Q: Is there a common strain running through great Memphis music? Elvis and Otis Redding must have shared some musical DNA.

David Porter: The common thread that runs through great Memphis music is emotional connectivity. You can't help but feel the passion, the pain, the joy that comes when true Memphis artists put their truth into the song that they are singing. The 'it' factor comes only through the great ones.

Q: Are there any songs of yours in particular that you would have liked to see him sing? Elvis could have done a great job on 'When Something Is Wrong with My Baby'.

David Porter: 'When Something Is Wrong with My Baby' is one. The second is 'You Got Me Hummin'.

Q: What did you take away from the film on a personal level?

David Porter: This documentary gives the complete picture of the person, his greatness, some of his secrets, some of his ups, some of his downs and an abundance of his power.

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3 CD Deluxe Set – 8"x 8" slipcase w/ 40 page book

Artist: Elvis Presley
Title: Elvis Presley: The Searcher (The Original Soundtrack)
Catalogue #: 19075806732
Barcode: 0190758067322
Release Date: 06.04.18
Format: 3CD – 8"x 8" slipcase w/ 40 page book

Elvis Presley: The Searcher 3 CD Deluxe 8"x 8" Box Set w/ 40 page book in slipcase.
Elvis Presley: The Searcher 3 CD Deluxe 8"x 8" Box Set w/ 40-page book in slipcase.

The new multi-part documentary Elvis Presley: The Searcher, directed by Thom Zimny and airing on HBO on April 14, pushes past the larger-than-life image of The King of Rock and Roll, portraying him instead as a man and an artist 'who wanted to heal, to find that thing that was always felt to be missing, and to do it through the music'.

The 3CD deluxe edition box set offers an expanded 55-track overview of Elvis' career as heard in the film including familiar hit recordings ('Heartbreak Hotel', 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?'), powerful vocal performances ('That's All Right', 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time', 'Trouble/Guitar Man') and rare outtakes ('Suspicious Minds', 'Separate Ways'), plus a bonus disc of additional recordings relevant to the film - including singles that inspired Presley (Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup's original version of 'That's All Right', Odetta's gospel version of Bob Dylan's 'Tomorrow is a Long Time') and two original instrumental pieces composed for the documentary by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.

Elvis Presley: The Searcher (The Original Soundtrack) [Deluxe] includes a 40-page book of photos, liner notes by Warren Zanes, and a producers note from film director Thom Zimny.


Disc 1

1) Trouble / Guitar Man
2) My Baby Left Me
3) Baby, What You Want Me To Do
4) Old Shep
5) That's When Your Heartaches Begin
6) That's All Right
7) Blue Moon Of Kentucky
8) Fool, Fool, Fool
9) Tweedlee Dee
10) Baby Let's Play House
11) Good Rockin' Tonight
12) Trying To Get To You
13) Blue Moon
14) When It Rains It Pours
15) Blue Christmas
16) Heartbreak Hotel
17) Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
18) Money Honey
19) Hound Dog
20) (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
21) Crawfish
22) Trouble
23) Farther Along
24) Mona Lisa
25) Hide Thou Me
26) Loving You
27) Lonely Man (solo version)
28) Power Of My Love

Disc 2

1) Milky White Way
2) A Mess Of Blues
3) Fame And Fortune
4) Love Me Tender / Witchcraft (duet with Frank Sinatra)
5) Like A Baby
6) Are You Lonesome Tonight?
7) It's Now Or Never
8) Wooden Heart
9) Swing Down Sweet Chariot
10) Reconsider Baby
11) Bossa Nova Baby
12) C'mon Everybody
13) Tomorrow Is A Long Time
14) Take My Hand, Precious Lord
15) Run On
16) Baby What You Want Me To Do (1. Version)
17) Suspicious Minds (take 6)
18) Baby Let's Play House (rehearsal)
19) Words (rehearsal)
20) That's All Right
21) Never Been To Spain
22) An American Trilogy
23) You Gave Me A Mountain
24) Burning Love (rehearsal version)
25) Separate Ways (rehearsal version)
26) Hurt (take 5)
27) If I Can Dream

Disc 3

1) Dissollution 2 – Mike McCready
2) Satisfied - The Blackwood Brothers
3) That's' All Right - Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup
4) She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Sometimes) - Joe Hill Louis
5) Mystery Train - Little Junior's Blue Flames
6) Smokestack Lightning - Howlin' Wolf
7) Rock-A-My Soul - The Blackwood Brothers
8) Just Walkin' In The Rain - The Prisonaires
9) Rocket 88 - Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats
10) Write Me A Letter - The Ravens
11) Blue Moon Of Kentucky - Bill Monroe
12) Ain't That Right - Eddie Snow
13) Just Walkin' In The Rain – Johnnie Ray
14) Home Sweet Home - Gladys Presley
15) Blowin' In The Wind – Odetta
16) Tomorrow Is A Long Time – Odetta
17) The Weight - The Staple Singers
18) Heartbreak Hotel - The Orlons
19) Wooden Heart - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
20) Rebound - Mike McCready

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.

The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.