Monthly Archives: June 2013

I Feel This Would be Perfect for Your Readers

Well, maybe… maybe not.

After 8-1/2 years of existence, ElvisBlog has really good SEO (search engine optimization).  So lots of folks with a product or program or website or whatever concerning Elvis will Google search and find the site.  Then, they send an e-mail hoping I will share their great (fill in the blank) with the blog’s readers.  Usually, I can’t help because ElvisBlog is about providing interesting articles, not free advertising.

Circle G Foundation Logo

The only exception is when I can build an interesting blog article around the project.  The best example of this is the Circle G Foundation which is trying to save Elvis’ old horse ranch in Mississippi.  There was such a full history and so many photos available, I got three blog articles out of it – here, here, and here.  Hopefully, they did some good.

Better guess at location

Circle G Ranch Aerial View

 

For some reason, the past week has seen a rush of these requests.  While none work for a stand-alone blog article, here’s a little information from five of them.

 

DoYouRemember.com:

Graceland

I’ve been getting e-mails from these folks for some time.  I don’t know how I got on their list, but if their latest topic interests me, I click on the link and read it on their website.  A recent post is titled June 1982: Graceland Opens to the Public.  It’s a nice little interview with Graceland’s director of public relations, Kevin Kern.  Click here to read it.

While you are there, you might want to type Elvis in the search box.  There are sixteen other features that are about completely about Elvis or at least mention him.

Elvis is Dead

Do You Remember asked me to share the Graceland article on ElvisBlog, and suggested I share an ElvisBlog article on their site.  I might just do that.  Every little bit helps that SEO.

 

Mercum Auctions:

Mercum Auctions Celebrity Auctions

I keep up with six or seven auctions that have a history of offering Elvis items, but I have never heard of Mercum.  However, they do have a dozen photos of Elvis during his Army days provided by old buddy Rex Mansfield.  Also included is a set of eleven Army slides, copies of Elvis’ induction and discharge papers, and a few other items. To view them all, click here.    Scroll down to the Elvis items.

 

Long live the King:

Long Live the King

This request came in from freelance photographer Mike Dvorak, who is doing a project on Elvis Tribute Artists and the fans who love them.  He is trying to raise $28,000 to finance his project titled Long Live the King.  Click here to see a short video about his concept and several still photos of ETAs he has already photographed.  Note to Troy Yeary at the Mystery Train Elvis Blog.  You won’t like any of these guys, except maybe the fellow above.  I know you will love that fur coat over the jumpsuit.

 

Paul Fraser Collectibles:

Paul Fraser Collectibles

This English company recently produced a short guide on collecting Elvis memorabilia.  If you prefer to consider big-ticket Elvis collectibles at a fixed price, rather than auction bidding, this guide may be just what you need.  Be warned, there does seem to be fair amount of hype.

 

Widescreen.org:

Widescreen.org

This came in as a Comment on ElvisBlog’s recent series of Random Thoughts on Encore’s month of Elvis movies in May.  I guess I’ll approve it for posting, but the writer (signed only as Leb) kind of dissed me. He said, “My main comment concerning your review is the lack of information concerning HOW Encore broadcasted these films. Encore uses what is known as Pan n Scan. In other words, they redirect the film which you are watching. Doesn’t this matter to you?”

Actually, no it doesn’t.  I’ll let others worry about defending the visions and intentions of film makers.  I just want to watch Elvis movies.

Next, Leb said, “Most of Elvis’ quality Hollywood output (and cultural influence and popular music for that matter) ended with Liverpool in 1964.”  Well, he’s right about the quality of Elvis’ movies after 1964, but no way Elvis’ cultural influence ended then.  And Elvis had thirty-nine Top 40 hits (including two #1s) after 1964.

The last thing Leb said didn’t sit well with me at all.  “I am including a URL for your consideration. I hope you enjoy it and it wakes you up.”

Sorry, I’m afraid you wasted your time on me.

 

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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

 

Conan O’Brien Sings Elvis

Two weeks ago we learned that Conan O’Brien is a huge Elvis fan.  Because of his fame and media presence, Conan has been able to manifest this more than the average fan. In his interview with Peter Guralnick, he stated:

“[In] 1983, I listened for the first time to the Sun Sessions, Elvis’ earliest work that he did with Sam Phillips.  It blew my mind.  It was like a drug.  I couldn’t get enough.  It made me go out and buy a guitar.  It made me try and play that music.”

Conan 7

 

Now, thirty years later, we know Conan was successful in his effort to play Elvis music.  Thanks to Google and YouTube, there are examples of Conan performing three Elvis original hits and two of his famous cover songs from albums or live shows.

When Conan left the Tonight Show in 2010 after NBC’s sorry late-night scheduling snafu, he was contractually prohibited from other TV work for six months.  He had often spoken of his fantasy to be a traveling rock musician, and he decided this would be the perfect time to do it.  With the remnants of the Tonight Show Band, re-christened The Legal Prohibited Band, backing him up, Conan created a comedy/music variety show and took it on the road.

Conan Tour Poster

 

Most of the songs he sang were from the genre he had loved for thirty years – Rockabilly.  However, each song was retooled with humorous lyrics reflecting Conan’s own life story.  “Polk Salad Annie” is a great example. You remember the spoken part in the beginning where Elvis explains what polk salad is and tells about a poor girl down South who cooked it all the time because they were so poor and had nothing else to eat.  Conan changed the story to being upper-middle class in Brookline, Massachusetts and goes on with some really funny stuff.

On June 10, 2010, his concert was recorded for a vinyl album.  No CD – Conan played homage to a music format of the past, just as he did with his choice of songs.

Conan Album - Side One

 

In addition to “Polk Salad Annie,” you will note two other Elvis songs on Side One of the album: “Blue Moon of Kentucky” from Elvis’ Sun Records days, and “Too Much Monkey Business” from the Guitar Man album.

To hear Conan sing “Polk Salad Annie,” click here.

To hear Conan sing “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” click here.

To hear Conan sing “Too Much Monkey Business” click here.

In his introduction, Conan knowingly gave due credit to Chuck Berry who wrote and originally recorded the song.

 

Conan Album - Side Two

Side 2 opens with another Elvis classic, “King Creole.”

To hear Conan sing “King Creole,” click here.

I looked up some of the other songs. “Twenty Flight Rock” was a song Eddy Cochran sang in the 1956 movie, The Girl Can’t Help It.  Another example of Conan’s deep involvement in Rockabilly music.

Conan and the Legally Prohibited Band

 

All of the links above take you to YouTube, but the videos are just a static pictures of the album labels.  We can hear but not see the performances. I guess they recorded the show, but didn’t film it.  Too bad.

However, there is one Elvis song that Conan preformed that was captured on film. On April 30 of this year, Conan and the band did “Hardheaded Woman” on his TV show.

Hard Headed Woman

 

Conan gave a wild and exuberant performance. He even did a move that would have made Elvis proud. While still playing guitar, Conan danced around behind the mic stand.

Hard Headed Woman 2

 

If you would like to see Conan sing “Hardheaded Woman,” click here.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Conan O’Brien’s tribute to Elvis.  Don’t be surprised if he shows up wearing a jumpsuit one of these days and sings more Elvis hits.  I can’t wait.

Conan 8

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© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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

 

Conan O’Brien and Peter Guralnick: The Elvis Interview

Last week I learned that Conan O’Brien is a huge Elvis fan and has a deep knowledge of all things Elvis.  This was very apparent when I watched a recent video interview he did with probably the best expert there is on Elvis, Peter Guralnick. So, I rushed to write a blog article about Conan’s love for Elvis.

Peter Guralnick

 

Unfortunately, in last week’s post I zipped past Guralnick too quickly, and that’s not right.  Guralnick is a leading music critic, writer on music, and historian of American popular music.  He has been writing books chronicling the history of blues, country, rock and roll and soul since he graduated from Boston University in 1971 with a master’s degree in creative writing. The first of Guralnick’s two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley in 1994, told the happy, inspiring story of Elvis’ life and career up to his departure for Germany in the Army.  I own this book and read it many years ago.  I liked it a lot.

Last Train to Memphis

 

Guralnick followed with Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley in 1999, and I started to read this one, too, but I just couldn’t handle the down side of Elvis’ life.  There are some things I just don’t care to dwell on.  However, both books have been acclaimed as in-depth, scholarly examinations of Elvis Presley’s life and music.

Careless Love

 

My favorite Guralnick book is Elvis – Day By Day, co-written with Ernst Jorgensen.

Elvis - Day by Day

It has been a valuable aid in writing numerous ElvisBlog articles.  Lots of little known facts, and 300 photos, too.  Guralnick was granted unprecedented access to hundreds of thousands of photos, documents, letters, artifacts, and memorabilia by Elvis Presley Enterprises and Colonel Parker. So, let’s look at some of the points Guralnick covered in chatting with Conan O’Brien about Elvis.

You are probably aware of Elvis’ spiritual awakening in the 60’s, but did you know it had an effect on his music?  Guralnick said, “Between ’64 and mid-’66, He never went into the recording studio except to record the movie songs.  The reason was not because the movies were killing him.  The reason was that what he wanted to do every waking moment, morning, noon and night, was to study his religious texts.” The Colonel decided Elvis had to break out of this pattern, and the way would be to record a gospel album.  “That’s what brought him back into the studio to record How Great Thou Art.  But, while he’s doing that, he’s also doing all the songs like “Down in the Alley.”  He would just go from one to another.  That essentially began his regeneration.”

And you probably think Elvis never toured Europe was because Col. Parker was an illegal alien (from Holland), and he was afraid he might not get back into the U.S.   Conan stated, “Had Elvis toured Europe, they would have lost their minds.  The Europeans would have gone crazy for him.  They always desperately wanted Elvis to tour.”

Elvis & The Colonel

Col. Parker and Elvis

However, Guralnick disagreed that the Col. Parker angle had anything to do with it.  He based that on interviews with Tom Hulett, the promoter for many of Elvis’ American tours.  “I got the same thing from Helett that I got by inference from the Colonel.  That basically, they were afraid to take him to Europe.  Why?  He’d get busted… because of everything that was happening.  Paul McCartney’s getting busted.  There were a lot of busts going on.  The Colonel used the term ‘We can’t guarantee Elvis’ security overseas.’  And you can read that the way I think he meant it.  I mean, he was never going to say it.”

Conan asked another question about the Colonel.  “You got closer to the Colonel than anybody.  What was your take on the guy?” Guralnick replied, “Col. Parker, whom I very much liked, was a fascinating guy… Elvis saw the Colonel as being the one person who could take him to other worlds – the worlds he wanted to go to.  It was a partnership that worked very well for many years.  One of the great things about the partnership is that everybody in Hollywood, everywhere they went, took them as total yokels.  And the two of them just chortled, I mean, took these guys who were taking them for rubes, and taking them for everything they had.  Hal Wallis was ready to tear his hair out… over and over again, in which he was taken contractually by somebody he felt so superior to.

Elvis and Hal Wallis

Elvis and Hal Wallis

 

Did you know Elvis had a photographic memory?  Guralnick says so: “One place he seemed to get some joy – he was a big movie buff.  Dr. Strangelove, Monty Python.  He could recite all the lines from Monty Python.”

Monty Python and the Holy-Grail

“He had a photographic memory.  When he was a kid, he memorized Gen. MacArthur’s farewell speech.  He was so admiring of Dr. Martin Luther King, that he could recite the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”

Guralnick spent some time discussing efforts by Col. Parker, Vernon, Dr. Nick and the Memphis Mafia buddies to intervene and help Elvis with his prescription medication problem.  They never worked.  “He was in the hospital in ’73 in Memphis for a form of glaucoma, and Dr. Nick brought in two psychiatrists under the guise that they were optometrists who were consulting.  Elvis immediately saw though it.”

Conan O’Brien made one final lament to Guralnick near the end of the 72-minute interview.  “I think about this with Elvis, wishing that, or hoping, that he could have been well enough to live longer and see, you know, how respected he is now by people like you, by intellectuals, by historians.  How he’s achieved that status.”

Again, I recommend that you click here and watch this fascinating interview between Conan O’Brien and Peter Guralnick.  You won’t be disappointed.

Last week’s article ended with a tease about Conan singing Elvis songs on the next one.  Now that Peter Guralnick has been given the attention he deserves, we’ll try to cover Conan singing Elvis next week.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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

 

Conan O.Brien — A Genuine Elvis Fan

On May 31, Elvis.Com had a news item and link to Conan O’Brien interviewing Peter Guralnick.  Well, I’ve got three of Guralnick’s Elvis books, and he knows more about Elvis than anybody, so this was something I wanted to watch.

 Conan and Peter Guralnick

 

However, once it got going, I was very impressed with the knowledge Conan exhibited and the quality of his statements and questions. For example, I was curious how Conan became an Elvis fan.

“When I was in college, and it’s the 80s, and I had sort-of come of age with 60s and 70s music.  Elvis wasn’t a big interest of mine.  And, then, I want to say, 1983, I listened for the first time to The Sun Sessions, Elvis’ earliest work that he did with Sam Phillips.”

The Sun Sessions CD

“It blew my mind.  It was like a drug.  I couldn’t get enough.  It made me go out and buy a guitar.  It made me try and play that music.  And, in a sense, I’ve never gotten past that music.  I can’t get past early Elvis.  I can’t get past Jerry Lee Lewis.  I can’t get past Carl Perkins.  I appreciate other music, but I’m always drawn back.  It’s just this energy.”

 Conan Energy

 

Even better was Conan’s concern about Elvis putting up with all the crummy songs in the later movies:

“What I’ve always noticed about Elvis that bothers me to this day is there’s nobody more talented.  There’s nobody who’s better looking.  He’s a rare example of the complete package and he is at the right time.  He’s got it all — and he’s passive.  He doesn’t like the songs they give him in the movies, but he sings them.  He doesn’t like the movies, but he does them.  Why was he so passive?  Why did he sing the song “Clambake?”… These songs are dreadful.  And you think, he was Elvis Presley.  Why couldn’t he stand up and say, ‘I’m not doing this!  Get me Leiber/Stoller.  Get me real songwriters.  Let’s make a real soundtrack”

Clambake Poster

Conan makes a good point.  With his stature, why didn’t Elvis insist on better movie songs?  The answer to the question takes Guralnick some time to explain, and as you might imagine, it partly involves Col. Parker.

 

The most profound thing Conan said was about the unfair treatment Elvis and his fans sometime get these days:

”I listen to Elvis nearly every night on Sirrius.  I love it.  But, every once in a while, they’ll say, ‘Now we’re going to the Movie Soundtrack Show… I switch the channel.  I can’t take it, because it’s Elvis digging a ditch. It’s not something he wants to be doing.  He’s doing his best.”

“But, the artists like Elvis who survived into the 80s and 90s got a chance to work with real [bands]… They’re redeemed.  They get to work with great producers.  Johhny Cash had this whole resurgence.  Roy Orbison gets a resurgence.  They’re taken seriously.  They are treated appropriately – as icons and heroes.  And their work is refurbished… There’s always part of me that’s very sad that Elvis couldn’t have lived to see how great his work was.  He was someone who was revered.  To see that whole generation come out and play with him and support…. And let him know that his work meant something in the American tapestry, but he never got that chance.”

 Peter and Conan

Conan got a little wobbly at the end of that quote, so some was edited out for clarity.  However, Peter Guralnick agreed with Conan one this point, and so do I.

 

Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night (1988) – Think five guitars is enough?  Who’s that guy on the left?

Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night (1988) – Think five guitars is enough? Who’s that guy on the left?

 

If Elvis had lived into his fifties, he may well have had an event like Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night, playing with a bunch of contemporary musicians.  It would have changed the perspective of those Elvis detractors out there, and proved that you and I are right.

I highly recommend you watch the entire Conan O’Brien and Peter Guralnick interview by clicking here.  It is seventy-two minutes of excellent Elvis information by two genuine, knowledgeable Elvis fans.

 Jailhouse Conan

  Next Week – Conan Sings Elvis

 

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

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

 

Random Thoughts on Encore’s Elvis Collection — Part 6

Thirty-one straight nights of Elvis movies.  A big thank you goes to cable channel Encore for the Elvis Collection they presented in May.  This was a rare treat for Elvis fans.  The last week featured repeats of three of the best Elvis movies from earlier showings, which is good if you missed any of them (or gives you a few nights to do other stuff if you don’t want to see them again so soon).

Movies Presented Last Week That I liked:

 

Elvis With Punks

King Creole – This was a repeat from three weeks ago, so I didn’t watch.  That will be the last time I’ll ever skip it when King Creole is shown commercial-free on cable.  It is probably Elvis’ best movie and the cast of supporting actors is great.  I like the way Elvis handled his character Danny Fisher.  He would never again get to portray such a conflicted and tortured soul.  King Creole was discussed in Random Thoughts Part 2.

 

Elvis and Shelly Fabares

Girl Happy – One of those silly happy Elvis movies I love so much.  I really like the vibe between Elvis and Shelly Fabares in Girl Happy.  Plus, lots of lovely girls in bikinis and several good songs.  I can’t figure out why Encore didn’t repeat Girl Happy, instead of the lame Girls, Girls, Girls.

 

Elvis and Juliet Prowse

G.I. Blues – Another of the fun Elvis movies with pretty good music.  The two dance sequences by Juliet Prowse are different and interesting.  This was another repeat and has be covered in Random Thoughts Part 2.

 

Elvis and Judy Tyler

Jailhouse Rock – I love this movie, but I skipped it because it was another repeat from the first week.  It is discussed in the first Random Thoughts on Encore’s Elvis Collection. It’s a serious film that manages to have the best soundtrack of any Elvis film.

 

Elvis and Joan Blackman

Kid Galahad – I haven’t watched this one very often, but I’m glad Encore included it in their Elvis collection.  It grows on me each time.  Elvis plays a modest, well-adjusted young man, who gets to sing, box and romance, while his co-stars Gig Young, Lola Albright, and Charles Bronson grapple with their serious problems.

I noticed that unlike most Elvis movies, he and love interest Joan Blackman never had a break-up before coming together at the end.  A very smooth romance.  I also noted that Elvis’ hair was dark brown – a distinct change from the jet black he sported the previous night in Roustabout.

The Ones I’m Tired of Watching:

 

Elvis and Mary Ann Mobley

Harum Scarum – Well, it was different, but I get bored watching it.  The plot and action were pretty weak.  The bad guys (including Red West) weren’t very believable, nor was Elvis dropping a tiger with a single Karate chop.  I did like Mary Ann Mobely, though.

 

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore

Change of Habit – I know other reviewers think this is pretty good movie, but I don’t.  It certainly wasn’t a fun movie.  Elvis was almost a bit player compared to the tribulations that Mary Tyler Moore and two other nuns encountered.  There was little music, and except for “Rubberneckin,’” it was forgettable.

 

Elvis and Teri Garr

Roustabout – This one isn’t too bad, but it certainly would have been improved with a better love interest than Joan Freeman.  The most interesting female in the cast was Sue Ann Langdon as the carny fortune teller, Madame Mijanou.  She nearly duplicated this roll as Mitzi in Frankie and Johnny – both characters were busty, love-starved women on the prowl.

There is one reason I still watch Roustabout.  A teenaged Raquel Welch appears in an early bar scene, and a young Teri Garr is the dancer to Elvis’ left when he sings on the outdoor stage.

 

Some Things I’ve Noticed Watching Twenty-four Different Elvis Movies in Four Weeks:

Lots of Elvis movie opening credits have him driving a car (motorcycle, helicopter, etc) while singing a song.  Change of Habit may have been the only one that used graphics for the credits.  No shots of Elvis at all.

Lots of actors show up in more than one Elvis movie.  We all know about the leading ladies with rolls in multiple films: Yvonne Craig, Delores Hart, Joan Blackman, Shelly Fabares, Mary Ann Mobley, etc.  But a series of consecutive viewings allows you to spot other actors.  Ed Asner made his film debut in Roustabout and also played a cop in Change of Habit.  Arthur O’Connell was the father figure in both Follow That Dream and Kissin’ Cousins.  Jeremy Slate was a soldier buddy of Elvis’ in G.I. Blues and the nasty boat company owner in Girl, Girls, Girls.  Bill Bixby competed with Elvis for the girl in Clambake, and was Elvis’ partner in Speedway.  This list could go on and on, all the way down to bit players (Teri Garr actually danced in four Elvis movies).

Elvis’ Memphis Mafia buddies are in many movies.  As I said before, when I know the story and dialog so well, I amuse myself studying the background characters for Joe Esposito, Red West, Charlie Hodge, Jerry Schilling and others.  Try it yourself.  The next time you watch an Elvis movie with a club scene, scan the audience and see who you can spot sitting at the tables.

My enjoyment of some Elvis movies is enhanced because of his fine costars in them.

Ann Margret  — Viva Las Vegas

Barbara Eden — Flaming Star (not in Encore collection)

Yvonne Craig — It Happened at the World’s Fair and Kissin’ Cousins

Tuesday Weld — Wild In The Country (not in Encore Collection)

Michele Carey — Live A Little, Love A Little

Anne Helm  — Follow That Dream

Donna Douglas — Frankie and Johnny

 

There are several costars that decrease my enjoyment in watching an Elvis movie.

Laurel Goodwin —  Girls, Girls, Girls

Ursula Andress — Fun In Acapulco

Joan Freeman — Roustabout

Annette Day  — Double Trouble (not in Encore Collection)

 

And finally, this is the Elvis movie not included in the Encore collection that I missed the most.

"Tickle Me"

“Tickle Me”

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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