What’s Tom Hanks’ favorite Elvis song?
The question prompts the actor to jog his memory via a deep dive into his latest workout playlist, revealing a wonderfully eclectic mix of artists in the process.
“Hang on, hang on, I’ll find it,” says Hanks, a longtime music buff who in 1996 wrote and directed “That Thing You Do!” The title track from the film – the fictitious story of a one-hit wonder band – nabbed Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best original song.
“I’ve got everyone here from Enya to Roy Orbison to The Marvelettes to (bluegrass picker) Del McCoury to (‘60s British hitmaker) Billy Fury,” he says. No surprise Hanks sounds a bit like a DJ: “I do a show once a month on an Internet radio channel, Boss Radio 66.”
Hanks says he listens to more Elvis now since playing the legend’s controversial manager, Colonel Tom Parker, in the new Baz Luhrmann biopic “Elvis” (in theaters now).
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“Unless you’re a real aficionado, you don’t know all the stuff he did,” says Hanks. “So I’ll hear something new, and think, ‘You’re kidding, I have never heard that, ever.’ ”
That’s precisely what happened with his new favorite. Hanks said he spent dozens of hours re-recording dialogue. In one of those sessions, a song came on during a scene when Elvis (played by Austin Butler) first walks into Graceland.
“I screamed and said, ‘What the heck is that song?’ ” says Hanks. “Baz said, ‘We’ll send it to you.’ “
The search goes on through the workout playlist, with Hanks reeling off the bands. “So, we have The Go-Go’s, Patti Smith, (Bob) Dylan, The Mavericks, The Shadows, Helen Shapiro …”
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“You’ve never heard of Helen Shapiro?” he says, excited to make a new convert.
“She was the Lesley Gore (of ‘It’s My Party’ fame) of Northern England, just as fantastic as Dusty Springfield (‘Son of a Preacher Man’). She’s all about heartbreak, I know you’re cheating on me, that sort of stuff,” he says. “Hold on, hold on, here’s The Highwaymen, Creedence (Clearwater Revival), (pianist) Floyd Cramer …”
Hanks sighs. “This is killing me,” he says. “It replaced ‘Bossa Nova Baby’ as my favorite Elvis track. Wait a minute, you’re going to love it, I’ll find it.”
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But Hanks doesn’t. He vows however to deliver the goods. A few hours later, a message comes in.
“ ’I’m Coming Home’ is the song by Elvis I had never heard. Will make you very happy. Hanks.”
It’s an infectious number. He’s told that it has the same twisting beat as the song that accompanies John Travolta and Uma Thurman’s now-iconic dance together in “Pulp Fiction,” Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”
“Exactly!” responds Hanks. “Where has this song been hiding?”
Consider it permanently added to the actor’s playlist.
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