Monday, June 28, 2010

Last Train To Memphis – The Rise Of Elvis Presley

I’ve just finished part one of the definitive Elvis bio, “Last Train To Memphis – The Rise Of Elvis Presley” by Peter Guralnik. Like the classic two-parter on Stalin, “Young Stalin and “The Court Of The Red Tsar”, part one is definitely the upper and part two the downer! I’ve only just started “Careless Love – The Unmaking of Elvis Presley” and he seems to have turned instantly from a sweet, chaste country boy into a horndog, speed crazed fucking jerk. But of course, nothing happens instantly, and that’s what really makes a biography like this a different beast to a fabulously trashy thrill ride like Little Richard: The Quasar Of Rock. The meticulous but human attention to detail, day by day from birth to death, paints a character so fleshy and familiar you can’t help but stay with them, through the best of times and the very blurst. Be it Elvis Presley or Joseph Stalin, once you feel like you’ve known that sucker their whole life, their aint no skipping the boring parts or copping out before the end…

Elvis being a clean living Christian boy, there aren’t too many wild debaucherous stories to single out and serve up for you here, but that’s not what this books about. It’s more a slow burning portrait of a time in a country, and a boy who gets famous and the machinery that grows up around him. Here’s a few little excerpts to give you an idea of the style anyway…

Here he is growing up in Tupelo…

Here’s an interesting part about the working relationship between our favourite Jewish teenagers, Leiber and Stoller, and “the process known as Elvis Presley”

And here’s some amusing clowning around at Graceland…

And a nice pic of Elvis with my favourite of his girlfriends, June Juanico…

Here’s a few fave young Elvis moments too, when he’s still real country and raw…
His first TV appearance

A super electric live recording from The Louisiana Hayride…
Thats Alright Mama (with great hillbilly banter)

And here’s this great radio spot from Ottowa in 1957, where the panel pontificate about the terrible psychological techniques of the rock n roll show, and then Elvis gives some great interview. I love the part toward the end where he says very seriously “…there was only one perfect man, and that was Jesus Christ, and people didn’t like him, they killed him. And he couldn’t understand why…”
Ottowa Radio Spot, 1957

Until next time, stay Elvis!

And for those down in geelong, tune into "For The Love Of Elvis", sundays 6-8 on 94.7THE PULSE, all elvis all the time!

I'm told Betty rocks the white hair and double denim and will fight anyone who questions the merit of ANY part of Elvis' oeuvre...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Richie.

    Read and enjoyed both of these books.

    Also recommended:
    Elvis by Albert Goldman - A muckraking rumour filled tome
    The Colonel by Alana Nash - Hate the Colonel? Read this and you will hate him more but for different reasons.
    Stay Elvis!