Elvis Presley - Big Boss Man

First performance: 03/05/1988


Coverinfo

Bruce soundchecked the song only once:
 
 
During the " tunnel of love tour" . The soundcheck includes Slim Harpo's "Rainin' In My Heart" (not the Buddy Holly song with the same title), "Big Boss Man", "Let It Be Me", "Cathy's Clown" and "Crying In The Rain" (both also The Everly Brothers) and both "Rock And Roll Music" and "Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry. The second song of the soundcheck has historically been titled "The Way You Walk", however a little investigation has revealed it to be John Lee Hooker's "Dimples". Perhaps Bruce had considered including the song in the Express Tour set, but instead settled on "Boom Boom" which will be premiered four days after this show in Bloomington, MN.
 
 
 
 

Songinfo

"Big Boss Man" is a blues song first recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960. Unlike his most popular songs, the songwriting is credited to Luther Dixon and Al Smith. On September 10, 1967, Elvis Presley recorded a version of "Big Boss Man". It was issued as a single the same month. He performed the song as part of a medley during the Elvis 1968 Comeback Special, which also appears in the award-winning mini-series Elvis. During the 1970s, Presley often performed the song in concert. "Big Boss Man" is an uptempo twelve-bar blues shuffle that features "one of the most influential Reed grooves of all time". It is credited to Jimmy Reed's manager, Al Smith, and Vee-Jay Records staff writer Luther Dixon. The song is one of the few Reed hits that was written by someone other than Reed and his wife. Backing Reed, who sang and played harmonica and guitar, are Mamma Reed on vocal, Lee Baker and Lefty Bates on guitars, Willie Dixon on bass, and Earl Phillips on drums.
 
 
 
 
 

Bruce on the artist

Whenever he could, Bruce would mention the enormous influence, Elvis had on him and on his music. Elvis is the most covered artist by Bruce (23 times) together with Chuck Berry, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan. The Influence of Elvis on Bruce, is described in a documentary compiled from previously existing footage by Dennis P. Laverty, a former Old Bridge resident who now lives in Staten Island (and who calls Springsteen and Elvis Presley "my two favorite rock stars". He used concert footage and previously released interview segments with Springsteen and various rock experts to show just how important Elvis Presley was to Springsteen.
 
 
 
 
"It's a cliché story, but watching Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show changed Bruce Springsteen's entire life. "It was the evening I realized a white man could make magic," he said in 2012, "that you did not have to be constrained by your upbringing, by the way you looked, or by the social context that oppressed you. You could call upon your own powers of imagination, and you could create a transformative self." He urged his mother to buy him a guitar after that, and in 1976 he went to Graceland after a Memphis show and even hopped the fence in a failed effort to meet the King himself. Elvis died during the recording of Darkness on the Edge of Town, right as Springsteen was hoping the King would cover his new song "Fire." Springsteen channeled his sorrow into "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)," which later morphed into "Factory."
 
 
"In the beginning, every musician has their genesis moment. For you, it might have been the Sex Pistols, or Madonna, or Public Enemy. It's whatever initially inspires you to action. Mine was 1956, Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was the evening I realized a white man could make magic, that you did not have to be constrained by your upbringing, by the way you looked, or by the social context that oppressed you. You could call upon your own powers of imagination, and you could create a transformative self. A certain type of transformative self, that perhaps at any other moment in American History, might have seemed difficult, if not impossible. And I always tell my kids that they were lucky to be born in the age of reproducible technology, otherwise they'd be traveling in the back of a wagon and I'd be wearing a jester's hat. It's all about timing. The advent of television and its dissemination of visual information changed the world in the fifties the way the internet has over the past twenty years. Remember, it wasn't just the way Elvis looked, it was the way he moved that made people crazy, pissed off, driven to screaming ecstasy, and profane revulsion. That was television. When they made an attempt to censor him from the waist down, it was because of what you could see happening in his pants. Elvis was the first modern Twentieth Century man, the precursor of the Sexual Revolution, of the Civil Rights Revolution, drawn from the same Memphis as Martin Luther King, creating fundamental, outsider art that would be embraced by a mainstream popular culture. Television and Elvis gave us full access to a new language, a new form of communication, a new way of being, a new way of looking, a new way of thinking; about sex, about race, about identity, about life; a new way of being an American, a human being; and a new way of hearing music. Once Elvis came across the airwaves, once he was heard and seen in action, you could not put the genie back in the bottle. After that moment, there was yesterday, and there was today, and there was a red hot, rockabilly forging of a new tomorrow, before your very eyes."
 
Bruce also wrote a song : "I’m turning into Elvis" :
 
During the Rainforest Fund concert at 1995/04/12 Bruce played the song and used this as an intro :
 
" this is the second half of the show, gonna be a tribute to Elvis and his decade. It´s been done before and a lot prettier than we’re about to do it….but that´s ok, look at it like you’re 15 years old, you don’t know a whole lot about Elvis and your uncle gets up in the livingroom trying to explain to you what it was all about. So with that in mind I’ve written a song especially for this particular occasion. You remember the coach Tom Landry, when he was trying to explain his personal relationship that he had with God ? well, this is a song that’s sort of about my personal relationship with him….´´ [Taken from the Backstreets Magazine, issue 49.] 
  

Lyrics

Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?
Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?
Can't you hear me when I call?
Well you ain't so big, you know you're just tall that's all, All right
Well you got me workin' boss man
Workin' round the clock
I wanna little drink of water
But you won't let big Al stop
Big boss man now can't you hear me when I call? All right
I said you ain't so big, you know you're just tall that's all

Big boss man, why can't you hear me when I call? All right
You know you ain't so big, I said you're just tall that's all, All right

I'm gonna get me a boss man
One who's gonna treat me right
I work hard in the day time
Rest easy at night
Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call? Can't you hear me when I call?
I said you ain't so big, you're just tall that's all
I'm gonna get me a boss man
One that's gonna treat me right
I work hard in the evenin'
Rest easy at night
Big boss man, big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?
I said you ain't so big, you're just tall that's all
All right, big boss man
It's all right