THE SUN STILL SHINES
Forty years have passed since he warned people not to step on his “Blue Suede Shoes,” but at 64, Carl Perkins is still laying down the law. On his new CD, Go Cat Go (Dinosaur), the rockabilly pioneer performs with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson and Paul Simon, among others. It’s a formidable list, but for Perkins—who played alongside fellow Sun Records luminaries Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash in the ’50s—working with the top names in music is just another day on the job.
When did you first see Elvis?
After I heard his first record. He filled in his show imitating other people, and he could do it very well—Hank Snow, Bill Monroe, Dean Martin. I said, “Good gracious, he’s a good-looking guy—and he moves!” As he made his exit, he got tripped up in Scotty Moore’s guitar cord and fell flat on his butt.
How did your song with George Harrison come about?
The night before I left home [in Jackson, Tenn.] to go to England, I sang to my wife, Valda, “While I’m over there, you’ll be over here/ But we’re in love, so have no fear/’Cuz distance makes no difference, girl, with love.” She said, “That’s beautiful, Carl.” I had the song on my mind on the flight over.
What made Sun Studios special?
A lot of the guys say, “Carl, that studio is magic.” It does have a mystique about it, I guess; it does pull out the best that’s in an artist. But if you’re expecting magic, you better take it in there with you. It’s four walls and three or four microphones and you.