Updated: Sep 20, 2021
North Carolina Roadside Attraction, 1992
Silvery Sleep is a contrafact on the Elvis Presley song, “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” which I always thought had a really haunting quality. In the true tradition of being as clever as possible with contrafacts, the title is an anagram of the name, Elvis Presley. I wrote this in 1998, but the idea of the tune really started for me in 1992 when my college friend, Ethan Schaffner and I did a cross country road trip and we saw how enmeshed Elvis’ life was with American roadside culture at the time. Everywhere we stopped had black velvet portraits, t-shirts and figurines; particularly in the South, and then again in Hollywood and Las Vegas. I was reading an Elvis biography at the time which was the perfect preparation when we visited Graceland. We listened to a lot of The Residents album, The King and I, which depicts Elvis as a tragic king who had everything, but nothing could make him happy. In my tune, for the melody, I wanted to see if I could feature “avoid” notes like the fourth on a major chord and flat sixths and minor ninths on minor chords. I thought it would be nice to have the group collectively improvise on the chord changes before stating the melody and ending the tune. Us & Them recorded this for our ill fated, almost never released album and we performed it live few times.