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Lay for the Day
20th December

Elvis Presley received his draft notice on this day in 1957.
John Lennon once said that “Elvis died when he went in the Army” – yet he came back from the grave to make much of his best music in the Sixties: the Elvis Is Back! sessions in 1960, How Great Thou Art in 1966, the Memphis recordings in 1969… But he couldn’t possibly get the world all shook up again, as he had between July 1954, when he recorded ‘That’s Alright, Mama’ for Sun Records in Memphis, and June 1958 when he sang, at RCA’s Nashville studios, in his final Fifties session, ‘(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I’.
A song from Rockingham Street:

The King Comes Out Tonight

I fell asleep in Brighton
On a rainy Sunday evening.
I’d run into the station
To see the last train leaving.
I curled up in my parka
And watched the slow waves gleaming
And there I finally fell asleep,
And there I fell to dreaming.

I dreamed that I was walking
Beneath a honey-coloured moon.
The southern night was scented,
I heard the alligators croon.
I heard the night owl whistle
Beneath the twisted trees.
Everything was still and warm
And filled me with unease.

I heard the purring whine
As a long black limousine
That passed me on the highway
Pulled up silent and serene.
A dozen men climbed slowly out,
Stood waiting in a ring.
They raised their heads, they gave a shout,
And then I saw the King.

There was a supernatural light,
Afigure dressed in gold and white.
He made the Mississippi darkness bright,
Then a tall man on my right
Said, “What a rare and precious sight.
The King comes out tonight.
He only comes out at night…”

But mama, that’s all right,
ama, that’s all right.
The King comes out tonight,
He only comes out at night.
Well,mama, that’s all right,
Mama, that’s all right.


Words and music by The Children


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar