Elvis Presley – I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone

2nd January 2022 · 1950s, 1955, Music, Rock'n'Roll, Rockabilly

I didn’t discover Elvis until his Vegas period in the early 1970s, belting out big ballads with overblown arrangements while I waited impatiently for new singles by T. Rex, Slade and The Sweet.

He was by far the biggest pop star the world had ever known and while girls my age worshipped Donny Osmond and David Cassidy, older people than I worshipped Elvis like a God, or a Beatle.

By the time I came across him he was old and fat and faintly ludicrous in his rhinestone jumpsuits and bejewelled boxing belts, sweating like a prince awaiting a summons from a New York court.

So I never delved deeper. I was too busy discovering David Bowie and Roxy Music and moving on to The Sex Pistols and The Clash. There was no room for Elvis in my life until years later, when I discovered his early recordings.

And once I’d embarrassed myself by mocking my friend Steve for having those old Elvis records in his collection, I heard his Sun Sessions. And I was sold.

In the late 1980s, I drove coast-to-coast across the American South with just two cassettes in the car. In the daytime we would listen to Creedence’s greatest hits and at night, when the temperature dropped in the great deserts of the Southwest and the stars came out against the biggest, blackest sky I’ve ever seen, I would play those Sun Sessions.

I remember pulling over somewhere in Texas, miles from anywhere, and lying on the bonnet of the car and gazing in wonder at that twinkling night sky, and realising there was not a building, nor another human soul, for miles and miles. It was overwhelming.

The music playing on the car stereo was Elvis, recorded at Sun Studio in 1955, accompanied only by the slap of Bill Black’s fingers on his double bass and the twang of Scotty Moore’s electric guitar.

And this was one of the songs drifting across the Chihuahuan Desert that night, a kind of rockabilly ballad with clever word play (“I’m left, you’re right, she’s gone/You’re right and I’m left all alone”) and that inimitable voice of the teenager Elvis.