Monthly Archives: April 2010

Dead Elvis, for Bassoon, Clarinet, and Trumpet

Some friends in my neighborhood went to a concert by our city’s symphony orchestra over the weekend, and the husband couldn’t wait to tell me the title of the last piece the orchestra played.  It was “Dead Elvis.”  My friend even produced the concert program to prove it.  He was particularly impressed that the featured soloist, a female bassoon player, was dressed in a white jumpsuit, Elvis wig, and trademark sunglasses.

 “Dead Elvis” Bassoon Soloist

Naturally, I wondered why the composer, Michael Dougherty, would title his composition “Dead Elvis,” so I did a little research.  I never did find anything about his motivation, but ClassicalArchives.com went into great detail on his concept.

For one thing, Mr. Daugherty decided to use the same instrumentation as Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat.  The website explained that these instruments were limited to bassoon, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, one percussionist, violin and double bass.  I guess I should have put them all in the title of this article, but that would have been way too long.  Does anyone know if there is a tradition in classical music of composing works to be performed by a limited group of instruments?  Is there a history of some other composer then trying to also write a piece using just those same instruments?

Who knows?  Who cares, right?  We just want the Elvis story.  Well, the website says “Dead Elvis” is analogous to the story in that famous Stravinsky composition.  In that one, the violinist sells his soul to the devil, while in Dougherty’s work, Elvis sells his soul to record agents, Hollywood, and Las Vegas.  If you ask me, it looks like the bassoonist sells her soul to Yoda from Star Wars.  Doesn’t the jumpsuit collar above look like Yoda ears?


As far as I know, classical music has no lyrics, so how does a symphony convey these messages about someone selling his soul?   Here’s something else the website tells us about the meaning of “Dead Elvis.”  The main musical motive of the piece is the Dies Irae chant, which is used in reference to Elvis’ death.  This medieval chant for the Day of Judgment appears in every movement of the piece.  Are you getting the idea that this composition was not written for the enjoyment of Elvis fans?

Apparently, other symphony orchestras have used the gimmick of their bassoon player dressed up as Elvis for the performance of “Dead Elvis.”  Here is one from the Cleveland Orchestra that rates much higher on the Elvis scale.

If guitar players call it their axe, what would you call this?

 

The website article ends with this, “Over the course of the piece, it is easy to imagine the journey of Elvis from a young man to a burned out Vegas lounge act.”  Well, it is easy for me to imagine I never want to hear “Dead Elvis.”

 

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Mr. Aaron Has Left the Building — And I Wish He'd Come Back

This week I did something I’ve never done before – I watched the same movie twice within three days.  When I watched Lonely Street on Monday, my main purpose was to see what kind of job Robert Patrick did playing 70-something Elvis as the character Mr. Aaron.  Well, I think he was superb.  Not only did he capture Elvis’ look, he captured the nuances of Elvis speech, moves and bearing.

Robert Patrick as Mr. Aaron

To my delight, Showtime repeated the movie on Wednesday night, so I decided to watch it again and get deeper into the plot this time.  After two viewings, all I can say is that this movie is way too good to be a direct-to-video release.  With some decent marketing, Lonely Street could have drawn in audiences to the theaters.

And these folks would have laughed a lot.  This is a funny mystery.  Not Oscar material, but you will enjoy it if you watch it.  Jay Mohr is perfect as the lead character, bumbling detective Bubba Mabry

Here are a few of my random thoughts on Lonely Street and Robert Patrick as Mr. Aaron.

 

Making The King

Click on the second image to view a video on how the make-up people transformed Robert Patrick to Mr. Aaron.  There is quite a bit of other information about the movie, as well as numerous clips from it.

               

 

Mr. Aaron Is Hot

The actress in the photos below is Lindsay Price, and for most of the film her character, Felicia, provides a foil for Bubba Mabry.  However, once she is in the presence of Mr. Aaron, he takes control, and she doesn’t fight it at all.  Later, when the police lieutenant grills her for more information on the mysterious stranger who looks like old Elvis, she replies in all honesty, “He’s hot.”   Bubba argues that a man that old can’t be hot, and she shoots back, “You’re jealous,”…  and he is.

            

 

Watch a Video of Mr. Aaron Recording the Theme Song

There are three Elvis-like songs used in the movie.  A singer named Jimmy “James” Brown provided the vocals and did a good job sounding like Elvis did in the 70s.  Click  below to see a very believable depiction of an old Elvis recording the song for his comeback, “When the Rebel Comes Home.”

Mr. Aaron Subdues the Bad Guy with Karate   

The people who made Lonely Street obviously knew a lot about Elvis, and they incorporated many things from his life into the narrative.  You will be pleased to know that Mr. Aaron reacted like a man who had practiced karate for his whole adult life and knocked the bad guy into submission with one kick.  That white blur on the left is Mr. Aaron’s foot.  Also, notice the background of this picture.  Does anything remind you of the ’68 Comeback Special?


 

 

What’s With the DVD Cover Design?

As I mentioned last week, I think somebody made a huge mistake with the design of the Lonely Street DVD cover.  They obviously didn’t consider the voracious appetite of Elvis fans for anything about The King.   If they had put one of their many wonderful shots of Mr. Aaron on the cover, it certainly would have spiked DVD rentals and sales. 

They did a bit better on the movie’s website, showing Mr. Aaron’s back.

                   

          

The fellow in the do-rag is comedian Katt Williams, and he does a fine job in a minor roll.  However, as you can see by the picture of the cast below, he is not among the top six lead characters.  So, what‘s he doing on the cover?   Why not Mr. Aaron?  I don’t get it.

 

Put This Picture on the Cover and Sell Some DVD’s

Robert Patrick / Mr. Aaron / Elvis

 

Showtime has one more showing of Lonely Street on Thursday night, April 22, at 7:25.  Make time to see it.  If you can’t make that, Showtime 2 has four additional viewings next week.  I’ll bet I end up watching Mr. Aaron in Lonely Street one more time.

 

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Robert Patrick — Acting Roles as Elvis' Dad and Old Elvis

If you happen to be home next Monday, April 12, at 4:30, you are in for a treat.  Turn on Showtime and watch Lonely Street.  See if this review by John Biefuss on IMBd.com doesn’t make you want to see it: 

“The comic murder mystery stars Robert Patrick as a healthy 70-something Elvis who faked his own death and has traded peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches for wheat grass and Tai Chi.”

Wow, that’s a different kind of Elvis.  Are you interested yet?  The review continues:

“People like Elvis again,” the aged Presley comments.  “Been back to Graceland, in disguise…”

What do you think?  Doesn’t it sound like it could be interesting — if it isn’t some real low-budget schlocky mess?  If you need any further convincing, read this fan review by Jay Levesque:

“I really wanted to see this when I read that there was some Elvis content. At first I thought it was going to be some really lame movie.  It exceeded my expectations and I loved it! … we laughed pretty good!  I will be watching this again.   The King is portrayed by Patrick just perfectly.   We never got to know what Elvis would have been like had he lived, but I believe this is as good and believable as it could get.  He even looks like a well aged Elvis.  A wonderful job! I love this movie, I really do!  It was well thought out by people who actually are Elvis fans otherwise they wouldn't have done such a good job.”

After I read that, I knew there was no way I’m missing it.  Are you starting to think about a way to get off work early on Monday and watch a movie with Old Elvis in it?  What if Old Elvis looked like this:

Robert Patrick as 70-Something Elvis in Lonely Street

 

Now I know for sure you are trying to figure a way to cut out from work early on Monday and watch this movie.

Robert Patrick as Old Elvis is not the main character of the story.  In fact, he is not even on the DVD cover: 

Who was the genius that had that remarkable picture of Old Elvis and didn’t put it on the cover.  Do you think it might have helped them sell a few more copies?   Probably sell a lot more, if I know Elvis fans.

You might appreciate a brief synopsis of the plot in Lonely Street.  Here is one by D-Man2010:

Bumbling PI, Bubba Mabry (Jay Mohr), will take any assignment to pay the rent, so when JG (Mike Starr) offers him some serious cash to protect a mystery client from an overzealous reporter, Bubba thinks he's got it made…but he gets more than he bargained for when he discovers his client is Elvis, aka “Mr. Aaron” (Robert Patrick) who has faked his death and is planning a comeback.

 

             

 

If you can’t quite place who Robert Patrick is, here is a picture of him in another role you might remember.

T-1000 from Terminator 2

Now you know who we’re talking about, and there is more interesting stuff about Robert Patrick.  Not only has he played Elvis in a movie, he also played Elvis’ father, Vernon, in one.  Do you remember the two-night TV movie in 2005, Elvis, starring Jonathon Rhys Meyers?  Well, check out Patrick as Vernon Presley.

                           

     Gladys and Vernon in Elvis                               Priscilla, Elvis and Vernon

Think about the unique experience it must have been for Robert Patrick to portray both Elvis’ Dad and Old Elvis.  I’m glad he does them both well.

So, I hope you will enjoy Lonely Street as much as I plan to.  And then I’ll probably dig out the Elvis DVD and watch it again, too.

 

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Caption Contest # 21 — Winner

 

Frequent winner Jean Pyle has done it again.  This might just be her best caption yet.

 

Elvis Incorporates Levitating Air Piano Into His Act

 

A Chance to Use the Photos in the Graceland Gates File

I save Elvis-related photos on the assumption that sooner or later I will be able to use them as illustrations for something in the news.  Within the past week, something did happen to the gates of Graceland, so enjoy the pictures.

According to a report on ElvisNews.com, “At around 2.30 a.m. on Friday morning, April 2, a black SUV drove through the Graceland Gates, in Memphis, Tennessee, damaging them. The occupant(s) then drove up to the mansion, shouted something to a female Security Guard and then drove off.”

The damage to the gates was rather minimal, primarily to the connecting hardware that holds the gates to the brick walls.  In the picture below, you can see the gate is dragging on the ground.  Supposedly there is also a small hole in the gate, but that is not visible on these views

              

Gate Sitting on Ground                              Crew Repairing Graceland Gates   

The folks at EPE jumped right into action to get the gates restored, and now you would never know anything happened.  Here are some photos of the gates in perfect shape.

 

Elvis in front of the Graceland Gates

 

               

           Gates At Night                                      Long Shot of Graceland and the Gates

Here are two other photos that might have worked for the ElvisBlog Caption Contest, but we’ll use them here.  Let’s hope these two fans being carried out through the gates didn’t suffer from anything too serious.

 

 

A Hole in the Graceland Wall

 

It takes a really bad driver to run into the Graceland wall and a really stupid one to ram the Graceland gates.  They’ve got security cameras going there 24/7, you know.

 

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Happy Easter, Elvis

 

                       

1966 Elvis Easter Postcard                        1968 Elvis Easter Postcard