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#188: From Elvis in Memphis by Elvis Presley

2.28.2013

From Elvis in Memphis by Elvis Presley (1969)

Favorite Tracks: "Only the Strong Survive" and "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'" and "I'm Movin' On" and "Power of My Love" and "Gentle On My Mind" and "Any Day Now"

Thoughts: Ah, Elvis. He's made it to the list.  Sure, we heard him back #304, but this is the first album that's all Elvis. Before we even get to the album, I feel I must tell you about my particular 'Elvis Journey.'  I think all of us have one, right? You had a friend who was obsessed with him, you've seen an impersonator, or grew up on his movies?

I never really attached myself to Elvis in a particularly personal way (but I'm young, so maybe my obsession is yet to come).  I think it was due to a viewing of the made for TV movie Elvis & Me during my formative years.  It does not paint a pretty picture of the man. Not that all my musical heroes have to be perfect, faultless people, but seriously, he came off as a real asshole.  (At least when John Denver only cheated on his wife.)

In high school I took a two-year AP US History course that required a 30+ page research paper citing original sources--the first one local, the second one national.  My first year I wrote about prohibition in Oregon, because for some reason I felt personally called by Jesus to bring back the Temperance movement.  For my second paper I was hoping to do something a bit more fun.  I asked my teacher if I my topic could be the British Invasion of the 60s, but she told me someone else had already picked it!  Just as I was about to propose a Beatles Trivia Showdown with said anonymous student to win the topic (and glory), my teacher said, "How about Elvis?"

I decided I'd take it.  It was still music history, and I knew there would be loads of material out there.  I think the paper was titled something like "Sexual Self-Gratification on Stage": Elvis Presley as the Harbinger of Cultural Decline in 1960s America or something like that.  I tried to find a copy of it online, possibly illegally uploaded onto one of the plagiarism sites, but no dice.

Anyway, digging into the controversy and personal life of Elvis shed a new, strange light on him.  I learned about his favorite snack (fried peanut butter and banana sandwich), that he had an identical stillborn twin named Jesse, the FBI assigned him a file, and he hated making all those movies...etc.  I enjoyed looking for 1950s/60s newspaper articles on old microfilm machines in the depths of the Multnomah Library.  Give me a topic I want to be well-versed in and research is a breeze (isn't that how it works for everyone)?

But enough about the paper.  More than I love Elvis, I love and am fascinated by people who adore him.  Their need to visit Graceland (if you haven't seen the This is Spinal Tap scene at Graceland, hop to, but with all love and respect to Rattle & Hum), the myth he's still alive, all the impersonators, etc.  I mean, even I get caught up in the magic when I hear "Walking in Memphis" (Marc or Cher's version)--especially now that I've seen THIS:



The noise that came out of my mouth when I first saw this scene was NOT HUMAN. Honestly, I can't even look directly at the screen when it's playing.

Ok, ok, the album.  Thanks for indulging me.  (For much better writing about Elvis, check out Sheila O'Malley's blog these days.)

At this point in his career he'd just had his successful 'comeback' special in 1968, and From Elvis in Memphis was his 9th studio album.  It doesn't feature any of my personal favorite Elvis songs, but it's a good, solid album.  I think my favorite song was "Any Day Now"--he sung the bridge with this higher, more vulnerable voice that I really enjoyed.

Is This Better Than Bad?: "In the Ghetto" is fine, but it's no "Man in the Mirror" to me.

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