Elvis 77: Final Curtain

 

Final Curtain: The Boxed Set

I was lucky enough to have received this set for Christmas and have been overwhelmed with the amazing quality that I looked for the official hologram sticker to keep and had to remind myself it wasn’t an official product!

 

While I haven’t finished reading, listening and watching either, I was impressed and surprised. The image of Elvis as a bloated jump suited parody is far from the reality of 1977.

Elvis’ weight fluctuated with his moods – and again – compared to the average weight of people now, Elvis’ peak weight wouldn’t draw a second glance. He continued to have inspired performances right up to the final show.

I watched the bonus disc of newscasts first and found it interesting to compare the style of news programs then and now.

One thing that was really driven home to me is how much more is known about Elvis than during his lifetime, or maybe how lazy news researchers were to get so many basic facts wrong. Including one newscaster who referred to Priscilla as Elvis’ childhood sweetheart and said Elvis got into recording as a lark when he did a demo at Sun when he was 25!

I have a disc of TV broadcasts from Memphis the week of Elvis’ death and the contrast between the more national broadcast and the local ones is startling. You really can’t watch the Memphis ones without crying in response to the anguish the news casters showed, while the national broadcasters are in that Dirty Laundry mode of not really responding to the terrible news they are informing us of.

But, I think Elvis’ last months of his life and career are as important as the first few months and year of his career – watching Elvis go from struggling to bring a new sound to the world to struggling to just maintain at the end.

Elvis remains so culturally powerful and relevant because his life was one of such dramatic contrasts, that he can stand as a symbol for any meaning or lesson needed to be highlighted – American Dream turned American Nightmare, personal humility with a public image of excess, and perhaps most importantly, an object lesson about managing power.

Elvis, had he maintained control over his career and life, would have had a very different path. More then likely, on his own, he would not have served as a regular soldier, he would have gone the entertainer route. Perhaps even remaining in the US for recruitment campaigns. He also probably would have continued down the Flaming Star/Wild in the Country path of movies and not the Presley musical travelogs.

Elvis, as the biggest celebrity, could have written his own career, but, for really unknown and unclear reasons, instead, he took the path of least resistance and allowed Parker to manage his career and his father to poorly invest his money.

Perhaps this is what the most amazing thing about Elvis was – he was willing to allow other people power regardless of the consequences and cost to himself. That’s a level of selflessness we are not likely to see again.

I think it’s telling that Elvis’ concert riders were a case of a particular brand of bottled water, while other performers at that time and more so now, have pages and pages of demands from Van Halen’s infamous no brown M&Ms, to divas who demand re-painting of dressing rooms, all manner of specific flowers, foods and other over the top demands.

Elvis’ career accomplishments seem to have been in spite of his management, and I have to wonder what more he could have accomplished or how much longer he would have lived, had Elvis wielded the power his talent earned him.

 

Always the Crowd Pleaser

It’s sad to think that maybe it was the unconditional love of his fans that made Elvis desperate to never disappoint us – and perhaps it was that fear that caused him to listen to the powerful appearing Col Parker. Never realizing that it was Elvis’ own power co-opted.