Elvis Presley: Classic Or Dud?

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I suppose the question should more be - Classic or Vivid? Dead or Alive (and not in the supermarket sighting sense)? I make periodic attempts to love Elvis, but mostly I just find myself appreciating. Is he still the King? Or an object of respect but not love? Or did he never mean a goddamn thing to you?

Tom, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Fair point, Tom, but then I feel that way about tons of music. 'Respect' is pretty good going for me. I don't 'respect' or 'appreciate' contemporary bands etc like I respect and appreciate Elvis.

I suppose a thing about Elvis is, how familiar is he really? He *seems* over-familiar - we think we know it all already - and maybe many folk do, several times over. But often, when I actually go and play the stuff rather than just think about it abstractly, it surprises me. It turns out to be more exciting than I imagined, or there are great songs I'd forgotten about; etc. I mean: the reality of Elvis might, possibly, be more (rather than less) interesting than the idea.

the pinefox, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

It's probably not representative but the recently issued video of his early 70's (?) performance of "Suspicious Minds" seems to show him to be a rather mediocre performer (at least at that time).

David, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

For me his music has always been part of the pop background scenery, without it meaning much. His status as the pop uber-icon means that I'm always left with a feeling of 'is that it?' when listening to it, the songs themsleves being dwarfed by all the extraneous cultural bumpf that surrounds him. I'm not entirely comfortable with this state of affairs, as it feels like I'm missing out on something important, but even when I make the extra effort to listen to the music all the associations make it very difficult for me to go much beyond appreciation.

, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Elvis. GRR.

Dan Perry, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Bugger. Forgot to type my name in.

Richard Tunnicliffe, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

classic, in my opinion one of the ten most classic artists of all time, and it took me years to realize this. i lived in an elvis household and as part of the whole rebelling against parents thing that i never took very seriously, i decided to hate elvis. in high school one of my best friends had what could only be described as an elvis room; i called him a fool, never realizing that the fool was me.

with all due respect to little richard (who i love) and chuck berry (who i respect), elvis was rock n' roll, until those damned beatles showed up, as he epitomized what it was all about viz. white kids doing naughty things viz. commingling with blacks. he had the hair, the looks, the moves -- few people have looked as bad-ASS as the king did on his comeback special -- and most importantly the voice, the one thing he'd have after everything else was gone.

search: "mystery train," "jailhouse rock," "surrender," "can't help falling in love," "anything that's part of you," "it hurts me," "tiger man," "if i can dream," "wearin' that loved on look," "i'll hold you in my heart," "tomorrow never comes," "american trilogy," etc muthafuckin' etc.

destroy: the films and most of the concomitant music, the cult, his private life, the karate...it's not too difficult to figure out what should be discounted.

fred solinger, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Classic, although the image, myth and 'iconography' are so overwhelming as to make actually HEARING the records through all that next to impossible, particularly when the same handful of 'classics' get played over and over. A rummage through the 50s, 60s and 70s box sets shows that above all else he's a great singer, of all different kinds of material - country, r'n'b, rockabilly, gospel, soul, torch songs, etc. Contrary to all that 'creatively dead after leaving Army' bollocks, he made fine records at every point in his career, right up to the end, as well as all the many, many bad ones. He wasn't the first, or even the best in any particular genre, but he's the great all-rounder, and often (despite all the 'artifice') the most nakedly emotional and raw. And he makes me laugh.

Andrew, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

He's got so much out there that if you don't know where to start, you're bound to be confused. Few people actually have the vocal power he did on the old Sun recordings or that classic double live Memphis session where Suspicioius Minds comes from. What can beat Blue Moon? Even on CD it sounds like it's being played through an old tube radio. Nice and warm. It was years later when I could finally understand why Frank Black loved Elvis and insisted the Pixies were a cross between Elvis and ... er... what was it, the Ventures?

I even love his corny movie themes like wooden heart, blue hawaii and girls, girls, girls. Not to mention that awesome song about the stripper with the ruby in her bellybutton. Or the funky hard rocker Clean Up Your Own Back Yard where he tells the preacher man what he can go and do.

, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I agree with all the classic voters here, and esp with heybuddy re 'Wooden Heart'. Fantastic performance! That's in 'GI Blues', isn't it? I love that 'Frankfurt Special' song, too. And isn't that the film with the amazing moment when Elvis is in a bar, and an Elvis Presley record comes on the jukebox, and he smashes it up? Mind- blowing, man!

the pinefox, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

all i can say in "wooden heart"'s favor is that it predated bryan ferry -- voice and style -- by about ten years. who else was ferry trying to be but a british elvis (sorry cliff), i mean, look in the for your pleasure sleeve.

fred solinger, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

If I Can Dream is my favourite record ever most of the time. Written overnight by the songwriter/musician working on one of Elvis' comeback specials: they didn't have a song to close the show with so, unable to decide on which of the existing catalogue to use, the producer told this guy (shamefully I've forgotten his name) to 'go home and write the song of your life'. He did, by 7am the next day. Elvis said he'd never again sing a song he didn't 'believe in'.

Jack Seale, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Oh so classic - enough that I dedicated a chapter in my book on his sweat, his gold lame suit and what exactly he was wearing when he died...the man, the myth, the monster and the methamphetamines, not to mention the karate moves

Geoff, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Destroy: The idea of Elvis looking bad ass at ANY stage of his life.

I'm like Tom, I appreciate the idea of Elvis but I can't be bothered to listen to him, like ever. I own none of his CDs, because I have no desire to turn him on. If he comes on the radio, I won't turn it off, but really it's not my cup of tea. I won't search him out, simple as that.

Ally, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Classic. GI Blues also has a Doc Pomus tune "Doing the Best I Can". Great Ballad. Elvis can really sing.

Joseph Wasko, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Dud stretches the point. I have tried, and tried, and tried to understand what people saw in Elvis, either thick or thin, and I just do not get it. Yes, he's got a good voice. Sure, he could shake his hips. To me, though, he sounds like a very bland version of Little Richard. Elvis was, relatively speaking, safe. That's not rock and roll.

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Classic because he’s so hard to pin down. The great Elvis performances are poised between tears and laughter, irony and sentimentality, pop and rock’n’roll, sex and sanctity, showbiz and authenticity, country and blues. The 1968 comeback shows, themselves poised between the gorgeous beauty of his youth and the fabulous ruin that was his decline (I mean fuck Nick Cave this man could do gothic pathos and excess), capture Elvis as icon better perhaps than any other footage or recording.

Guy, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Actually, I think the whole idea with Nick is that he was able to take Elvis' leanings there and not be dead on his toilet at his age, despite comparable substance abuse. Woo-hoo!

Elvis I think does the business, but proceed with caution. The really bad sixties movie cuts aren't even good for camp value.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

What's the book, Geoffrey? It sounds like an interesting read.

Johnathan, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Elvis: CLASSIC... true pop icon. Only now is he beginning to have any meanign for me though.

DESTROY: Greil Marcus. Much of the time, he's worse than the folks who see the image of Elvis in the grease spattered on a toaster of the local Waffle House.

badger, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Cave's excess remained tasteful - he stayed thin for-gods-sake. The Elvis binges on hamburgers, pills and coke, wearing rhinestone romper suits, were truly humiliating in their excess.

Guy, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Guy, Elvis was a rather unique case. He could be bedridden in a pile of his own diarrhea and people would still pay to see him and line up to fellate him back stage. Nick Cave doesn't have that luxury. If he did, perhaps he would get fat on peanut butter banana sammiches and wear suits stolen off decks of cards.

, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I'll agree with Badger on Greil Marcus. His obsession with Elvis became downright embarassing after Mystery Train.

As for me, I would say classic. I think a lot of the mythology surrounding him has belittled the music he created.

Nicole, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Apart from "Mystery Train," who really cares?

alex in nyc, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Alex, do the posts above answer your question ?

Patrick, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

He was a hero to most...including me. I love The King. The Sun Sessions is incredibly good. His voice on "Jailhouse Rock" is awe- inspiring. He had the best songwriters money could buy cranking out tunes for him, and he knew how to sing them (unlike the current crop of teen faves!) I love watching early footage of him performing. And I get teary-eyed when I see footage of him encoring with "Unchained Melody" at the piano in the 70s. Plus, he once bought 27 Cadillacs in one day, for friends and family. A mere "classic" is an insult.

Mark, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I was expecting an iconoclasm overload from you lot, and have been really surprised. I can't really answer this question as I know nothing of his beyond the obvious, so I'll back out and leave you lot to it. But surely someone else out there HATES him?

DG, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

my mother adored him, i came to him more slowly. i only have two cds of his and they are both gospel cds, his voice booms and makes me shiver. i always crank up the 'burnin' love' when it comes on the oldies station. destory--the colonel.

keith, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

You guys are fanning the flames, that's all I got to say... (besides a resounding "CLASSIC")

Keiko, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Pardon my earlier post, I thought we were talking about Elvis Hitler.

Mark, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

the book's called Fuct & Fiction - you can pick it up via www.hungrypublishing.com under novellas for about 4.50 US I think.

Geoff, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Well let's say dud. As with that other King (of Pop that is) so in your face your whole goddamn life his music becomes meaningless. Never meant shit anyway. That said: 'Alcapulco' the movie rocks. Man that was some tense shit when I watched it as a kid, . Saw it recently, can't stop saying "Hey senorita!" to my girlfriend in Elvis- drawl. So a glimmer of classic then :)

Omar, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

My favorite Elvis song is that bit on Chill Out ("Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in my Soul"), with Elvis' voice processed and echo-y and incredibly distant. That gives me chills, man. Chills. Chill Out.

Other than that, he never meant a thing to me. Dud I guess. I'm such a fucking kid.

Ian White, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
I'm young enough that I could have not cared either way - but the Sun sessions remain a favorite - along side all the other country/rockabilly stars of the 50's. The book "Last Train to Memphis" helps define what's so fascianting about the man; he really managed to define rock n'roll, teen culture and super stardom, and that is of historical interest. Take a step back from subjective opinion and take in the effect he had on American culture and music - that is what is truly interesting. It could have been anyone, but it was Elvis. He worked his ass off from the day he turned 19 and didn't know how to quit; he wanted 'it' that bad, before 'it' had even really been defined. I believe that given another 50 years his image will be restored. The 70's were an excessive time for everyone, had he not died in the midst of it, maybe there would be more respect and tact surrounding Elvis and less exploitation.

Era Tanttros, Sunday, 20 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I went to see "McCabe and Mrs. Miler" at the Castro Theater a couple days ago, and before the film they showed a trailer for the Elvis concert film "That's the Way it Is". I've only recently gotten into Elvis; I own only "Elvis in Memphis", which is fabulous. Well, I could go and look it up, but this film looks to be after "In Memphis" but before his slow 70's decline was really underway. The man looked amazing. Yes, white bejeweled jumpsuits, but he's still in great shape. I mean just the fact that he dared look so outrageous is powerful in it's own way. And then there were some brief clips of him dancing onstage. His moves were unreal; he just goes wild. Many people in the audience laughed; I sat there with my jaw open in awe. To move around like that means either you're a fool or some kind of shaman, and I know what side I'm on. I can't wait to see this movie and to explore more of this era of his career.

Sean, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
What some people have always ignored is that his voice was incredible.
They run his demise into the ground, search for dirt, print as much inuendo and trash as they can find. They never explore the fact that he had a 3 octave voice, and could virtually sing any style of music. Not only would he sing it but he could bring something new to it. The people who ignore the voice ignore what made him so unique in the first place. If you ignore the greatness of the voice(because of a pre-conceived notion of "ELVIS"), you will never see what millions have found in it. Its almost as if the voice is the last thing that is considered, taken for granted. His chrisma started with the voice! What artist today could go into the studio and in a couple of weeks cut over 30 songs as Elvis did at the Memphis sessions in 1970?
It seems to take newer artists years to produce new material. The Memphis material was varied and several hit singles came from these sessions plus a couple of gold albums. There were no gimmicks or technical enhancements, no digital computer setups. He went in picked his songs out and worked out arrangements then cut them until he felt he had given the performance he wanted. The songs he picked were songs that said something to him. He usually (after 1968)only did songs he wanted.(This was not always commercial, but honest)He never used the computer tricks which many of todays artists today use to make sure they are on KEY. He never lip-sinked at concerts because he was worried on fast numbers he would sound breathy, as some newer artists have been found to do. None of this is ever appreciated because no one explores beyond the image. Listen to the best Elvis impersonater in the world then play the same song by Elvis and you will see the greatness of the voice

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 16:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

that version of "Mystery Train" in "That's The Way It Is" where he's rehearsing with the TCB band is incredible.

James Blount (James Blount), Thursday, 23 January 2003 16:59 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Plus, he loved his momma like anything.

No wait, that was William Lyon Mackenzie King!

Dennis Lee to thread!

Horace Mann (Horace Mann), Thursday, 23 January 2003 17:01 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Been playing 30 #1 Hits a LOT around here lately. I've always liked him--reading Mystery Train was what sealed it (it's almost impossible for me not to hear the Sun stuff and Sly's Riot through the scrim of G. Marcus in some way, which is great as far as I'm concerned--enhances the music, doesn't limit it in the least). "Suspicious Minds" and "Burning Love" and "It's Now or Never" on the same disc is a hell of a thing for anyone.

I don't understand how anyone can say he's a "watered-down Little Richard" since (a) they sound nothing at all alike, even when Elvis covered Little Richard songs, and (b) Elvis started making records before Little Richard cut "Tutti Frutti," the first record he made in the style he's famous for.

M Matos (M Matos), Thursday, 23 January 2003 18:01 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Nick Tosches (who's hardly an Elvis apologist) to thread on that front

James Blount (James Blount), Thursday, 23 January 2003 18:04 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Thatis something that has always been overlooked, Elvis was developing his style and voice in 51,52, started recording in 53. Jerry Lee Lewis came to Sun after Elvis had left.Carl Perkins came later also. Little Richard recorded Tutti Frutti on Sept. 14, 1955 yet people claim somehow Elvis got his style from anyone of these gentlemen depending on who you read. Chuck Berry began recording for Chess records in May 0f 55. Bo Diddily also started recording for Chess in 55. Elvis was already established he had been recording and performing seriously for over 2 years. Elvis was affected by these guys later as they were in some ways affected by him, but all of them had their own style.

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 19:02 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

More than anything, all the other guys were more influenced by the amount of cash EP was getting than by his music.

Though he IS undeniably a great singer, with really terrible management, though try telling that to the billion dollar EP Estate.
Like Ali, his talent was squandered, though there are many moments of transcendence throughout his career.

Also, in Linda Gail Lewis's autobio, she claims that the time Jerry Lee stormed the gates at Graceland, it was because a doped up EP had called him to come rescue him, a claim not as preposterous as it seems.
Elvis might have been King, but Colonol Parker ruled.

Horace Mann (Horace Mann), Thursday, 23 January 2003 19:13 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The other guys should appreciate the fact that without his groundbreaking the bulk of white America would have never even heard of them let a lone bought their records. Jerry Lee was always jealous of Elvis, but he never had a voice for anything except country rock. He is a great rock pioneer, but he was not a complete package. Little Richard has said he owes a debt to Pat Boone(who covered many more Richard songs than Elvis) and Elvis for opening doors that would have stayed closed if not for him. Bill Haley had a "ROCK" hit before any of them but until Elvis no one gave black artists the time of day except other black people. Col. Parker was what Elvis needed in the 50's, but in the late 60's he needed a Brian Epstein or someone of his kind to let Elvis explore, and grow. To particpate in new music that would not have necessarily been Elvis music(which still sold and was still good) but would have allowed other people in the music world to produce, play, and collaborate with him.

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:15 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think Ken is oversimplifying things some: Louis Jordan and Louis Armstrong were possibly the two biggest singers in America (apart from Bing Crosby) during the 40s, so it's not like white people in this country were unaware of black artists back then, which isn't to say things were totally equal. (Still aren't.) I understand the frustration of a lot of people re Elvis as King what about other, just as or more talented black artists, though.

M Matos (M Matos), Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Loved everything he did in 1956 or before. The Sun stuff, especially "Mystery Train," definitely lives up to the myth.
But everything he did after '56 sounds pretty close to easy listening to these ears.

Here's a question to ponder: What would Elvis's legacy be had he not been so incredible looking?

Jim M (jmcgaw), Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:43 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Besides, everyone knows that James Brown is really the king of rock and roll.

Jim M (jmcgaw), Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Elvis - he's Jesus Christ but still Elvis meant nothing to some. But KERRIST just for the Albert Goldman book, being White Trash, the Fatty Glitter Stage pre-Bowie? Suspicious Minds and for that late-80s documentary of Elvis Fanatics* he is AMERICANA CLASSIC.

One of whom I phoned just to hear her voice after her repeating "Listen, we will invite some guys over, listen to Elvis and play some yahtzee".

robotman, Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:57 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Elvis needs boats. Elvis needs boats. Elvis needs boats."
Classic for inspiring such haunting lyrics. I get chills.

Bruce Urquhart (Bruce Urquhart), Thursday, 23 January 2003 22:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Armstrong and Jordan were big singers, but they were "safe" in the eyes of white people. The music they made had a polish to it. You can not compare Armstrong with a white handkerchief in his hand and wearing a tuxedo to say the likes of Bo Diddily or Little Richard. They played ballrooms and upscale clubs in large metropolitan cities. Jordan could have an edge, but he was "Accepted". All I'm trying to say you don't sell a billion records, without having a very special talent that few artists are given. All the black artists mentioned are great artists. They were definitly shortchanged by the music industry in the 50's. But Elvis was not the reason for it. He had talent, looks, chrisma, that sent him to the top. He is undervalued, as I said before, because of the image people see in their minds. If they would set down and listen, not just to the 50's but a cross section of his work they would see how his voice grew, how his phrasing became more and more distinct. He could be raw and hard, when he wanted, he could be bluesy, he could be pop. I will admit that in the period of 75 to his death he had basically dreaded recording and he could sleep walk through a performance. He had no challenge, he had done it all. He needed someone who could have stood up and told him what everyone saw. But he was in a position that few have ever been in. He broke ground for rock super stars who needed to see not how to end.
Its funny most of the stars we have been talking about, with a few exceptions, have never had anything but praise for Elvis and his talent.

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 23:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"undervalued"??

jones (actual), Thursday, 23 January 2003 23:51 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

he's also that kind of case where I really can only appreciate his impact only because of people telling me about it. I don't have any problem believing that Tom Petty or Bob Dylan or the Beatles or any number of other people had their lives change by their first exposure to Elvis. It obviously happened. At the same, time if I was unaware of all that and you had just played me his early singles for the first time I would say "hey that guy's pretty good!" but I wouldn't necessarily be blown away by them in the context of other stuff going on at the same time. I get *why* he was such a shock to people, how he was different etc. but I don't get that same shock myself. And maybe that's just because of being removed by several decades and his general omnipresence, but it is the kind of thing that requires explanation, to my ears and mind. I dunno how anyone in this day and age would come to Elvis and just go "hoooly shit what is THAT?!" upon initial exposure. (Whereas that *was* my initial reaction the first time I heard, say, "Keep a Knockin'")

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 19:54 (two days ago) Permalink

I dunno how anyone in this day and age would come to Elvis and just go "hoooly shit what is THAT?!" upon initial exposure

i dunno im still impressed when i hear him knock out a tune i haven't heard before. he has tons of incredible performances, he is/was an incredible performer. not sure what is stopping someone from being impressed by an artist who has impressed millions of people for decades.

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 20 April 2018 20:13 (two days ago) Permalink

overexposure + archaic aesthetics

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 20:15 (two days ago) Permalink

like, you can hear echoes of what Elvis did in so many other things before even hearing Elvis-the-source, things like that *can* weaken the impact

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 20:16 (two days ago) Permalink

Coming on board now, there's also decades of "racist"/"thief"/"Elvis-wasn't-shit" rhetoric to wade through before you get around to hearing the actual records, too. It's hard to deny the effect of that on a modern listener.

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 20 April 2018 20:19 (two days ago) Permalink

There's a ton of orchestral pop, which I know everyone was doing as the time, but it's just dripping with schmaltz! Unnecessary strings, overdone backup singers, clichéd harmonica bits, spoken word interludes when he's "getting serious".

The arrangements on some of the songs leave a bit to be desired, definitely. But his voice -- this incredible instrument that lay dormant throughout the '60s and suddenly sprang to life in the '70s -- is so fucking magnificent and majestic that I'm willing to overlook its surroundings.

At times he just seems like a caricature of himself.

Arrangement-wise, yes. Vocally, I would disagree.

Also, some of his best '70s recordings are on He Touched Me, which is not represented on the '70s box.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 20 April 2018 20:24 (two days ago) Permalink

like, you can hear echoes of what Elvis did in so many other things before even hearing Elvis-the-source, things like that *can* weaken the impact

i disgree. i'd heard a zillion machine gun snare rolls by the time i heard his live on Ed Sullivan "Hound Dog" for the first time, and it's sounded impressive and cool even then. there is no replacing the original performers. just cos i have heard a snare roll before doesn't diminish the impact of hearing this particular performer playing a role in this particular way as recorded with this particular technology and this point in time.

on that tip im not convinced what Elvis has done has been done by so many others. certainly he has a large influence but it's not like there are other post bands/singers that are Elvis subsitutes. it's not like Chris Isaac makes Elvis obsolete.

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 20 April 2018 20:36 (two days ago) Permalink

the "he's a theif" stuff is dull, tired. i mean, if you want to go down that route, go for it, but burn ALL your albums not just Elvis.

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 20 April 2018 20:37 (two days ago) Permalink

you're pretty incoherent

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 20:41 (two days ago) Permalink

er wait nm I misread your second post

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 20:42 (two days ago) Permalink

Blue Moon was a "holy shit" moment for me. It sounded sinister and psychedelic, hard to believe it was recorded in 1954:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiY5auB3OWg

dinnerboat, Friday, 20 April 2018 20:53 (two days ago) Permalink

^same

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Friday, 20 April 2018 20:58 (two days ago) Permalink

guys I'm not saying it can't happen, I'm saying it didn't happen for me.

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 20:59 (two days ago) Permalink

I mean, did you just hear that a year ago? or in the 80s? I think the first time I heard Blue Moon was in the Jarmusch film.

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 21:01 (two days ago) Permalink

and there was a *lot* of Elvis kitsch about in the 80s

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 21:01 (two days ago) Permalink

obviously it's a great song and performance, v sinister and wierd

Οὖτις, Friday, 20 April 2018 21:06 (two days ago) Permalink

not everything is about you yanno

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Friday, 20 April 2018 21:16 (two days ago) Permalink

i bought a cassette of elvis's sun sessions as a cynical late teen/early twentysomething w/ no real interest in the guy, i was into the clash and the fall and dylan and what i thought of as "real" music, and it really did blow me away. not just the spookiness of "blue moon" but the crazy intense energy of stuff like "blue moon of kentucky," the menace of "milkcow blues." even the ballads felt pure and sincere in a way i wouldn't have expected from elvis's later stuff. i can see ppl maybe not responding so much to the familiar 50s hits or having trouble understanding why it was such a big deal when a guy swiveled his hips, but the sun stuff seems p timeless and wonderful to me still.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 20 April 2018 21:47 (two days ago) Permalink

having trouble understanding why it was such a big deal when a guy swiveled his hips

there is continually controversy over this sort of thing. the artist being free to use sex in their performance is a more relevant topic than ever. we still have debates over Miley Cyrus and Janet Jackson. twerking is mainstream now but only a few years ago it was a revolutionary or underground thing (from my understanding). ofc Elvis is a man and they are women and etc. that's another discussion & one worth having...

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 20 April 2018 22:19 (two days ago) Permalink

some Elvis songs hit deeper as you get older i find. after you have been in relationships or traveled or lived life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUKP8SF-mYs

kinda a lovely song. a little nostalgia and 60s soul pop vibe. you can see him punching the air while he sings like a karate instructor.

there is a live video of "Polk Salad Annie" i post all the time that i wont post again but he is prowling around the stage like a 80s hardcore singer and deep throats the mic at one point. he had the original dgaf attitude. people know what's real - you can't fake that.

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 20 April 2018 22:23 (two days ago) Permalink

lol @ 2:26 shaking Rodney Dangerfield's hand

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 20 April 2018 22:26 (two days ago) Permalink

This is the clip in question, for folks who haven't seen it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGpjNnXNY4A

And yeah, Elvis is amazing in this clip, but I also want to point out Ronnie fucking Tutt, the drummer, who was completely locked in with him onstage.

grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 21 April 2018 00:31 (yesterday) Permalink

I was thinking about the conundrum they raise a few times in the doc, why DID he stay with Parker when he was obviously so creatively stifled & restricted

I wonder if part of it just comes down to the combination of growing up poor & being stunted emotionally.

Growing up poor creates the fear of losing it all if he breaks away from Parker. Having all that incredible wealth & fame IS the dream, theoretically, and in that kind of mindset “happiness” is a luxury that runs second fiddle. You might secretly dream of doing something more fulfilling but those thoughts get dismissed as being greedy or hubris etc

But also he seems quite stunted emotionally. Between the army & “movie gulag” he completely skipped the important & best part of early adulthood: independence & burgeoning creativity. Like it’s not even that he didn’t choose it: it wasn’t available. And the death of his Mom in between those phases perhaps led him to subconsciously avoid it, and instead latch onto a new influential presence in her absence ie Tom, *because* he’s feeling so lost (but doesnt have the emotional maturity to know thats whats happening & never really deals with his grief in any kind of normal way).

Crucially, as a result he wasn’t free to find himself, learn, fail miserably, create, meet new people to inspire you, broaden your horizons the way many of us do in our 20’s; we take that for granted. But what if you just skip from your teens to your 30’s without it & you’re trying to constantly live up to an ideal ~of yourself~ ? What if you live your whole life like an orchid trapped under a glass: captured & preserved & forced to stay the same, rather than grow & become a fully formed person.

It’s so unnatural & it makes me so sad when I think about it.

I think he bought into the image of himself being pushed on him because it was safe. for all his stagecraft & charisma, he is not confident within himself off the stage. Parker knew it, and excavated that seam until it was an open-cut crater, til there’s barely any Elvis left.

in his whole life he’d never been independent for very long, except for brief glimpses here & there growing up. Once he’s stuck in the machine & sees what he doesn’t want he wants independence but he’s too far in. And deep down he knows he doesnt know the first thing about actually BEING independent. It’s an abstraction by then.

(forgive my romanticism obv)

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 21 April 2018 03:10 (yesterday) Permalink

Wow

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 03:13 (yesterday) Permalink

Absolutely otmfm, VG. Brilliant post.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 21 April 2018 06:25 (yesterday) Permalink

:)

Funny, and a little sad/ironic that Tom Petty's the one asking that question of why he stayed with Parker.

Petty's the poster-child for independence, practically from birth he was willfully striking out on his own & ultimately blazing a trail with his merry band of misfits hoping somehow that fame would be around the corner somewhere eventually, but also secretly somehow SURE of it.

It's endearing in it's way that Petty couldn't grasp the idea of someone, ie Elvis his hero, *fearing* independence.

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 21 April 2018 07:21 (yesterday) Permalink

Parker was pretty adept at manipulating Elvis even from the early days (getting friends and hangers-on of Elvis to keep an eye on him for Parker). Was Parker involved in getting all those drug prescriptions and connections for Elvis too?

well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Saturday, 21 April 2018 08:46 (yesterday) Permalink

but yeah VG gets the core there of how Parker had such a hold on Elvis

well bissogled trotters (Michael B), Saturday, 21 April 2018 08:48 (yesterday) Permalink

Growing up poor creates the fear of losing it all if he breaks away from Parker. Having all that incredible wealth & fame IS the dream, theoretically, and in that kind of mindset “happiness” is a luxury that runs second fiddle. You might secretly dream of doing something more fulfilling but those thoughts get dismissed as being greedy or hubris etc

Someone asked Eddie Murphy (himself an Elvis fanatic) about the string of awful movies he’d made, Pluto Nash, Daddy Day Care, Meet Dave, etc. He said something along the lines of, “Look, when you grow up with nothing, turning down offers of millions of dollars simply doesn’t make sense.”

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 21 April 2018 11:38 (yesterday) Permalink

Yeah vg killing itt

Rap critics that say he's "Money Cash Hoes"
I'm from the hood, stupid
what type of facts are those?
If you grew up with holes in your zapatos
You'd celebrate the minute you was having dough

The Desus & Mero Chain (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 21 April 2018 12:42 (yesterday) Permalink

Skipping from teens to 30s makes a lot of sense. He also kept his little gang (Memphis Mafia) with him all the way into his 40s and some type of codependency developed there. iirc it was they who helped him get pills etc. & were involved in his personal business in all kinds of ways while of course they depended on him financially. Other celebrities have their entourages but are able to separate themselves from it, realizing who is the artist and who is the staff, but Elvis operated as if he felt his support group was integral to his success/lifestyle.

Josefa, Saturday, 21 April 2018 14:23 (yesterday) Permalink

yeah they became a sort of lifeboat for him.

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 21 April 2018 14:49 (yesterday) Permalink

Isn’t there one school of thought that the Memphis Mafia were not enablers but were actually trying to encourage him take better care of himself? I am will willing to entertain such a notion but...

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 15:11 (yesterday) Permalink

it seems plausible, esp in the final years. his excesses would have been more than a little alarming to just about everyone close to him i would think

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 21 April 2018 15:15 (yesterday) Permalink

And those guys got fired as soon as they started making a big deal about that stuff, hence Elvis: What Happened?

Josefa, Saturday, 21 April 2018 15:35 (yesterday) Permalink

VG et al. otm ... it's worth emphasizing how poor the Presleys really were, especially after Vernon did time for writing bad checks ... nothing against East Tupelo, but if you drive around that area today and imagine what it was like during the Depression, it becomes clear that just making it to Memphis was a huge upward climb

add to poverty and Vernon's patchy success as a provider Gladys' reaction to the death of Elvis' twin and the intensity of their bond, and her death the day after he got home from the army ... it's no wonder he clung to Parker and Graceland for the rest of his life

Brad C., Saturday, 21 April 2018 16:51 (yesterday) Permalink

Gladys is a huge key to his psyche, even long after her death. Kinda like those radiation shadows burned into the concrete after Hiroshima.

the photos of him & Vernon the day of her death have stayed with me - ghoulish as it is to see that moment captured, there’s something about seeing such a tragic turning point imo

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f7/e0/f1/f7e0f14874980853a8f268e450900208.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/c4/f5/ab/c4f5ab956d8345cd8213c27de6a26615--elvis-death-family-homes.jpg

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 21 April 2018 17:19 (yesterday) Permalink

Yeah, fascinated by that photo.

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 18:13 (yesterday) Permalink

Also, loving the term “movie gulag.”

And pondering this statement from Jon Landau: “Because I believe he was a genius from start to finish, even when he was recording the soundtrack to ‘Clambake.'”

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 18:17 (yesterday) Permalink

The account of their grieving in Last Train To Memphis is pretty intense, in a grimly funny and extravagant way—“mama ain’t gonna feed those chickens no more!” Reminds me of Leland Palmer in season 1 of Twin Peaks.

sciatica, Saturday, 21 April 2018 18:20 (yesterday) Permalink

Also still pondering this Peter Guralnick quote about Sam Phillips:

Sometimes in the middle of the night he arrives unbidden. He even sets me riddles. In one dream he said to my bewilderment (both then and now), “I am nothing if not an idealist.… I am everything but an idealist.… The boy cannot fully understand.” I dream of Sam. I dream of my grandfather. I dream of Solomon Burke and the songwriter Doc Pomus. All gone. They come around less frequently now. But whenever Sam arrives, as often as not rattling at the window in the midst of a torrent of conflicting concerns, I always listen.

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 18:54 (yesterday) Permalink

/Growing up poor creates the fear of losing it all if he breaks away from Parker. Having all that incredible wealth & fame IS the dream, theoretically, and in that kind of mindset “happiness” is a luxury that runs second fiddle. You might secretly dream of doing something more fulfilling but those thoughts get dismissed as being greedy or hubris etc /

Someone asked Eddie Murphy (himself an Elvis fanatic) about the string of awful movies he’d made, Pluto Nash, Daddy Day Care, Meet Dave, etc. He said something along the lines of, “Look, when you grow up with nothing, turning down offers of millions of dollars simply doesn’t make sense.”

Exactly who I thought of when this topic came up on this thread. Eddie also said that he did those movies because he said he knew it could go away at any moment. As a drug, cocaine has nothing compared to poverty.

On a semi-related note, my wife and I just took our kids to Paris where we heard Elvis in a bistro so I had to explain who he was – which ended with me doing the Eddie Murphy “Elvis, do you want some lemonade”/“Elvis, we gotta win this race!” singing-all-his-lines jokes from Delirious/Comedian. So we walked around Paris for four days doing that bit together.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 21 April 2018 20:30 (yesterday) Permalink

Earlier today was texting that exchange back and forth with a friend.

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 20:37 (yesterday) Permalink

It's infectious and never seems to get old.

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 20:46 (yesterday) Permalink

so classic. the fat elvis walk gets me every time

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 21 April 2018 21:06 (yesterday) Permalink

reading that peter guralnick quote right after sciatica's post has made me realize that sam phillips would have been right at home, somehow, in twin peaks

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Saturday, 21 April 2018 21:29 (yesterday) Permalink

Was visiting a friend in Brooklyn. One of the girls from Girls lives around the corner and was having a sidewalk sale. My friend picked up a huge pile of Elvis trading cards, each packed with facts on the back. My favorite I saw re: the famous meeting with Nixon, captured in Black and White. But supposedly Elvis's suit was bright purple, like something Prince would wear!

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 21 April 2018 21:46 (yesterday) Permalink

Well, Prince died the same year as David Bowie, who had the same birthday as Elvis and sent out various encoded signals throughout his career acknowledging this and so... *scratches chin*

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 21:51 (yesterday) Permalink

Da Presley Code

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 21 April 2018 22:04 (yesterday) Permalink

Exactly

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 22:12 (yesterday) Permalink


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