The Prosody of Mystery in “Mystery Train”

[caption id="attachment_165531" align="alignnone" width="768"] Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley recorded "Mystery Train" in 1955. Photo by Kate Cauthen.[/caption] Okay, so who still cares about the young Elvis and his Memphis-based Sun Records recordings? And why does Elvis’ “Mystery Train” still feel like a mystery to be unraveled, fresh on every listening? Have you heard it recently? C’mon, download it and check it out. Then come back. [Editor's note: The song was written by Junior Parker, who released his own recorded version of the song via Sun Records in 1953.] So? Did you try to count it out? Go back and simply tap out the downbeats. See how you do. I’ll wait. It can be a little confusing. Simplify it a bit. Forget the intro and start counting downbeats one beat before Elvis comes in with “train arrive.” It’s a pretty brisk tempo. How many bars do you count before he starts line 2? Right. Ten bars: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 | / / / / | / / / / | / / / /| / / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / /…

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