Thursday, August 16, 2007


I wasn't going to post today (I'm trying not to be a slave to typing blogs, after all), but I thought it might be apropos' to muster up a few words about the King. I guess he is the King of Rock and Roll, although he really didn't play guitar all that well, and didn't write any songs of note. Maybe Elvis is the King because he awoke something in music fans of the era, and you've gotta admit, when he was good, he was DAMN good. A lot of words have been written, about how, when he got out of the Army in 1961, he was induced (seduced?) into doing movie after stupid movie after stupid movie, of which he recorded soundtrack albums with stupid song after stupid song after stupid song. John Lennon once said, "Elvis began to die the minute he went into the Army". Just as I feel that John Lennon began to creatively die the minute he met Yoko. Oh, no. (sorry, couldn't resist that...)

It's sad that "The King's" legacy has become so maligned over the years. Elvis must be spinnin' quadruple circles in his grave, when he looks down from above and sees how we all now seem to poke fun at him and use him as a big "bozo"-type cariacature of what he was when he first hit the music scene. Yeah, it is sad. He was so talented. He had that great voice, right up to the end, but he kinda got weird. Drugs, depression, synchophantic yes-men, and tons of fried banana sandwiches combined with multiple cheeseburger binges kinda did him in. Maybe he brought a lot of fun-poking upon himself, but then again, there are those who have said it was really rough to be Elvis Presley; one man against everyone, surviving in spite of the "Memphis Mafia", who were (allegedly) his best friends. After all, during Beatlemania, which was a wacky time for John, Paul, George and Ringo, there were four Beatles to share the pressures and overall potentially fatal ridiculousness of Beatlemania. But, there was only one Elvis. One could say he was 'adored to death', and maybe that's true.

Last year, I tried to compile a 60-minute cassette tape of the best of Elvis' 70's-era rock and roll songs, and I could hardly find enough upbeat material to fill up the tape. Elvis had grown so depressed since his divorce from Priscilla in the early '70s (even though he had quite a few gorgeous ladyfriends during that time), that his producer, Felton Jarvis, said that Elvis just wanted to record maudlin heartbroken tearjerker ballads (my adjectives, not Felton's), and as such, his '70s albums are largely dirges; bouts of melancholia recorded for all the world to hear. When he sang, "I'm so HURRRRRRT!!!!" on a 1976 single, I am sure he poured every ounce of feeling he could muster up, onto that single. It's his last really powerful studio-recorded performance. During the last couple of years of his life, he was too depressed to leave his mansion to go to the recording studio. So, RCA Victor brought the studio to him. A makeshift studio was set up at Graceland, and that was where he made his last few recordings. Ironically, at least according to research I've done, the last vocal he ever laid down was "He'll Have To Go", the old Jim Reeves tune. And a couple months later...Elvis was GONE.

Shortly after his 1977 death, "Elvis In Concert" was shown on ABC-TV. Elvis, in 1977, was barely able to function, but he kept going onstage anyway. I kinda feel that 'the stage' was the only place where Elvis really felt like he was in control. Anyway, ABC network officials were horrified by the deterioriation of Elvis' condition, and had considered not showing the concert special, but then Elvis died, which changed ABC's plans. Oh yeah, and RCA cranked out a 2-record set of those concert performances, all of which put more beaucoups-bucks into Col. Tom Parker's deep pockets. Parker, you see, was Elvis' greedy, cigar-chompin', big fat manager. (Again, the adjectives are mine.) Parker had baaad gambling problems, which is perhaps an explanation why Parker had Elvis play in Vegas so much. And later on, Col. Parker SOLD all of the rights of Elvis' material BACK to the record company, for some more fast cash. And how much Col. Parker's exploits had to do with Elvis getting so depressed, well, the jury's out on that one. But the more I read about Col. Parker's relationship with Elvis, the more sick to my stomach I get. And it's kinda sad, the way Elvis' legacy has been boiled down to this...

This must be one of those "Elvis sightings" that I've heard so much about over the years.


I have utilized such books as "Elvis: The Final Years", "Elvis, the Illustrated Record" and "Elvis' Complete Recording Sessions" in tandem with my own conclusions synthesized from listening to his 'not very good' 70s albums, as the basis for much of this post, in addition to remembering all of the great stuff he did early on, when he almost ruled the world.


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