Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

The Short, Unhappy Life of Elvis Presley

Say I venerated Hemingway. Loved the man. Celebrated him. Honored him. Decided to grow a beard and mustache. Ate lots of food to gain plenty of weight to pack into hunting garb. Took to smiling like Teddy Roosevelt. Drank hard. Wrote short sentences. Or shorter. Became an over-all tough guy. Climbed Kilimanjaro. (Or at least a hill at a local park.) Kicked around Key West. Talked about Cuba back in the day. Generally became quite annoying. It could be done. Easily. And people would see me. And utter: “Asshole.”

Presumably, there are people who do all that. And there are probably people who do much more (e.g., have multiple divorces to keep up with Papa; watch Star 80 to view the offspring; etc.). But this isn’t about Hemingway. It is about Elvis.

“Elvis?” you wonder. “Did he know Hemingway?”

I don’t know the answer. He probably at least heard of the man. Maybe had to read a Nick Adams story in middle school.

But it is about Elvis in another sense. I looked at the official Elvis website. And wondered: “What the hell is that all about?”

Venerating Hemingway. Writing short sentences. Drinking from a flask. Knowing that the rich are different. Running with the bulls. All of this would be normal. That site. No.

I truly do love rock and roll

Okay, that’s it. I can no longer defend her. In a cleverly annotated transcript of a dial-an-interview with Britney Spears, Jim DeRogatis reveals that she doesn’t know where Elvis is from and doesn’t know who originally made “I Love Rock N’ Roll” famous. In case you’re wondering, the answers are Tupelo, Mississippi (although Memphis would be acceptable, and even preferred by some) and Joan fucking Jett and the fucking Blackhearts. I could’ve forgiven her thinking Elvis was from Las Vegas. Maybe she just misspoke, and who really cares anyway? I think it’s really cool that she’s dressed in a white bedazzled jumpsuit for her HBO special in Las Vegas. That’s fine. That’s clever. It’s cute. I like it.

But don’t fuck with Joan Jett.

If I were in charge, I would publicly execute anyone who thought that “I Love Rock N’ Roll” was a Pat Benatar song. I’m serious. That would be the Law, and the Law would be very strictly enforced. I might even make people answer that question before they could get their drivers license, vote, or open a bank account.

I realize that Ms. Jett did not write that song, but it’s her song as much as “Jailhouse Rock” or “Viva Las Vegas” belong to Elvis. And Pat Benatar sucks. If you’ve ever heard her cover of “Just Like Me” by Paul Revere and the Raiders, you know I’m 100% right about this. We’ve discussed this issue before, and it sickens me to have to acknowledge it myself. Oh Britney, my Britney, why hast thou forsaken me?

I saw him dancin’ there by the record machine

I knew he must a been about seventeen

The beat was goin’ strong

Playin’ my favorite song

An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long

Till he was with me, yeah me

That’s all right

I don’t know how long this has been up, but Emusic.com has a great collection of Elvis photos from his 1954 Louisiana Hayride days. In my opinion, this is when Elvis looked his best. He’s so cool in these pictures, it hurts to look at them.

ElvisThese were the days of the original Sun Sessions, when Elvis, Scotty and Bill — with a whole lotta help from Sam Phillips — were actually creating a whole new style of music, a combination of country and western with rhythm and blues that no one had heard before. Say what you want about Bill Haley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry — all great artists — but they didn’t come up with anything as new as our boy, Elvis.

Just listen to that very first single. “That’s All Right” is an obscure blues song by Big Boy Crudup, hopped up all hillbilly-style. The flip is “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” a famous Bill Monroe bluegrass hit, rocked out with no trace of bluegrass left in it. It’s not just a white boy trying to sing like a black guy. It’s way more than that. Al Jolsen tried to sing like a black guy. Bing Crosby did too. What Elvis did changed the world. And that’s the way it is.