The thing about Elvis

When Elvis walked into Sun Records, he wasn’t bragging when he said that he didn’t sing like nobody – because Elvis could sing like any body and because he was Elvis – he could take any genre of music or fusion it or just so blow the bell curve that…

well, My Way was written by Paul Anka, a Canadian, for Frank Sinatra.

and Elvis at his best, could pwn anyone’s signature song or style:

and, Elvis at his worst – just a scant 6 weeks later, he would pass away in his home, like 10,000s of thousands of Americans and Canadians do each and every year.

Because most people who die in their homes, do not die in bed. They die in the bathroom. Either from early morning heart attacks or slip n falls in the tub/shower.

Elvis was a man, a mortal man.

And, if you are an Elvis fan, no explanation is needed and if you aren’t an Elvis fan, well, no explanation will ever be good enough.

But Elvis sang his heart out every time he stepped out on stage, he never got over his stage fright and he often remarked that every show was a new audience.

So those concerts were Elvis monologed and ranted instead of singing, those fans got the most personal insider view into Elvis’ most private world – inside his mind and what was destroying his soul.

It’s never been a surprise to me that Elvis died at 42.

Given his disappointment with his career and his inability to manage his personal life and his unwillingness to be in charge of his career – these were what killed Elvis.

There are many people to blame for what did or didn’t happen to or for or with Elvis.

But, in the end, the final responsibility was Elvis’ and his alone.

To not decide is the same as deciding no.

And that’s something that I am probably the only Elvis fan is willing to say and post.

Elvis was responsible for his own early death, by his poor lifestyle choices, which included his eating and drug taking – moreover, that they were prescription drugs for illnesses and conditions that he did not have does not make Elvis any different from any other celebrity who is involved in bizarrely less savoury so called street drugs.

Because, scientifically speaking, pharmaceuticals and street drugs are sourced from the same plants and chemicals. The only difference is packaging and distribution.

And Elvis, by failing to take active control and interest in his career, ended up being very disappointed with Hollywood and eventually, even recording music.

Over the summer, I was on a number of Elvis forums and when fans would talk about their regrets, like he never toured Europe (but he did tour Canada)…

I would point out that from Elvis’ perspective, there were no more career challenged.

He’d conquered radio and tv in the 50’s and he dominated Hollywood’s box office in the 1960s and he returned to concerts in the 1970s and did the first one man television special that was broadcast via satellite over the whole reception capable world.

Without a supportive home environment, without family, without a career purpose and facing the worst horror – The Bodyguard Book – which, to be very clear, was just the first of many such books by Memphis Mafia members.

Elvis most likely, died from poly-pharmacy – just like Heath Ledger. Elvis probably also had an allergic reaction to the codeine that his dentist gave him that last night:

The last photo of Elvis alive

And Elvis, I think, mostly died, from a broken heart.

He accomplished so much in his short years that the impact of Elvis cannot be measured today, especially as disrepected as Elvis was and continues to be.

Elvis never stole from anyone and he gave away more than he ever took.

But unlike Robin Hood, Elvis didn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor.

Elvis Presley grew up poor and even in Tupelo, he gave away his toys to other children who had none.

Elvis Presley earned so much money and paid his taxes without taking deductions and he gave concerts and his own money to so many charities, without any publicity – well, unless it was for concert ticket sales…

That when he was drafted, it cost the American government a lot of money – both in lost tax revenue because Elvis was not earning rock star wages for 2 years – and in terms of the cost of security needed for Elvis to be a jeep driver in the army.

But, Elvis in the army was probably the best PR for America at the time.

So, it’s about trade offs.

We just have to stop consuming and trading away our social and cultural leaders.

Because, Elvis will stand the cultural test of time, whether he’s ever really understood or appreciated in our time.

The lesser lights that nibble at his chart and box office and concert successes…

Well, sure, records will eventually be broken, but just know – you’re walking in the footsteps of the trail blazer, not forging your own path or blazing your own trail.

Elvis was an entertainer and he never shared publically his political views or took a stand on social issues – except – with these two songs:

and in the modern age of mash ups:

So please – sign this petition:

Just thinking about Elvis

And Juxtapositions…

Because, that’s one thing that Elvis – and I am pretty sure – that Elvis alone – is unique as a performer in.

Because most performers start out a certain way and they change and evolve into more powerful artists over the course of their career.

But Elvis – was the total package – right from the start.

He was vulnerable, he was sexy, he was coy.

He was country and blues and gospel – and other performers had tapped into the cultural fusion of the time – but they were regional artists in a landscape that was very compartmentalized – very, as we’d say in modern terminology, zero sum.

And Elvis – and Elvis alone – changed that landscape and brought so many things into focus that – well – if you’re an Elvis fan – no explanation is needed.

 

An Elvis Theory

Elvis was the first and the last entertainer that all the people of the world could agree on.

Elvis walked into Sun Records and said he didn’t sing like nobody.

And he was right – he sang like everyone in his own unique blend and voice.

Elvis was a boy from Tupelo, no better and no worse than anyone else.

He didn’t lie and he didn’t steal – music back in those days, was for everyone and everyone shared.

Elvis became a focal point – the eye of a cultural storm – and after Elvis, there was very little diversity or cross over in music, because everyone across all the genres of music, copied Elvis.

But, if you are an Elvis fan, no explanation is needed and if you aren’t, it’s been said that no explanation is possible.

But I humbly disagree, and I may be wrong and you can accept it or don’t. It’s up to you.

Elvis sang country with a blues vibe and blues with a country vibe and he took away the sadness of those musical styles and made it joyous and sexual – rockabilly to rock n roll – and he delivered that music – with a gospel fervor so intense that his 1950’s concerts were compared more to tent revivals than orgies – although, the emotional tipping point between a revival and an orgy is pretty much the same tipping point.

But rock n roll was only part of the Elvis appeal – and what made Elvis such an emotional magnet – was his sentimental and vulnerable side – and his first national hit record – isn’t even classifiable as a specific genre and pop or popular song – is really too vague.

Now – Elvis was the king of music – back when the media was a 45 RPM.

And the flip side of Heartbreak Hotel – was Elvis’ personal favorite song.

The funny thing is that years ago – when I was 12 – and I was at home.

My Dad phoned me – most of the family was worked at a family owned business.

Trygg Ceramics in New Westminster and that store sold finished ceramics and taught classes – and they played the radio.

They had a contest – you had to name the flip side to Heartbreak Hotel – and a big argument broke out in the store – my Dad had just gone to pick my Mom up from work.

The debate was very heated and the people in the store didn’t think the contest was very fair, because, how could anyone know – what the flip side to a Elvis single from 1956 was.

Most of the women in the store – were major Elvis fans.

So, my Dad called me – and he said – very clearly to prove to all those at the store, that he did not prompt me.

DAD – Nina, what’s the b side to Heartbreak Hotel?

Nina – I was the One, why?

Dad – no reason, it was just a question on the radio.

And when you combine – Heartbreak Hotel – with this song – as the original Elvis fans, way back in 1956 did when that record first came out…

Then, I think, the true magic of Elvis, just might reveal itself.

Elvis was the King.ofmusic.allgenres.alleras.always.

And Elvis the man doesn’t need any billboard charts or RIAA certifications or Halls of Fame.

And Elvis fans, don’t need anything, but Elvis – and the truest soundtrack for any Elvis fan, is Elvis himself.

quote

At theluncheon Elvis accepted the honor, at a banquet held at the Memphis Municipal Auditorium, he was reflective, misty-eyed and clearly humbled to be in the company of the nine others, who included Thomas Atkins (Boston’s first black councilman) bio physicist, Dr. Mario Capecchi and cancer researcher Dr. George Todaro. Elvis had once again invited the Memphis Mafia gang and his young wife of only 2 years to join in the celebrations.

Big Boned Gal Pride

Now – DEAR READERS – you all know that I am an Elvis fan and a Canadian at the same time.

I wanted to show you all – what I have been doing – to help me recover from being bullied at work – and I am not looking for any trouble – so I can’t show you me impersonating Elvis – because – Elvis Presely Enterprises is very very particular about Elvis on the internet.

Now, my Mom, she taught me many things and I do not always listen to my Mom – and for that – I am sorry – because – I mentioned in passing on one of the recent posts on this blog – that my Mom does not really believe in Therapists.

She prefers to keep things to herself and not talk to strangers about private matters and that includes therapists. And when my Mom is feeling down or blue – she turns to music to make herself feel better.

So – Mom – this is for you – because – being able to laugh at yourself is a sign of mental health and music – can tame a savage beast or make you catch a breath so deep that you can’t help but rid yourself of all the stress and worries and cares of even the whole wide world.

So – kd lang – a Canadian singer who combined Elvis and Patsy Cline into one person – and kd lang is a performance artist first and a singer second – so – I only hope – that if she hears of this tribute to Canada’s Own Lady kd lang:

sorry, that’s an inside Canada joke – you can google my Dad’s favorite Canadian singer – to understand the reference:

so, kd lang, where ever you are in the whole wide world – I only hope that you will smile and understand – this is not for profit – this is for a good cause – mental health and not letting bullies – named Johnny or otherwise – ever get you down:

at least, not for too long…..

The King Did Not Die On The Throne

There’s a reason why I am such a versatile blogger – it’s because I have many skills.

And I use all my skills in all situations and All The Time.

The Average person – you know if you are not average – operates in reactive mode – always hustling, seeking attention or opportunities, and they are relentless in their pursuit of what think think happiness is – and part of what Average people think that happiness is – is being all about ALL Them All Night All Day.

Now, when I read those words – All Night All Day – I remember my grade 7 choir teacher and how she taught us to enunciate and sing – so we sang those words

All Nigh Tall Day

and every now and then, when I am feeling depressed, I sing them and when I sing Tall Day – I straighten up and I take a breath – and I remember – many people and times and events and I know – Tall Day – is my guide for life – Walk Tall and Make Each Day as tall an order as possible.

Stand tall and breath – good advice for everyone, eh?

Stick with me while I travel backwards in time, in my mind – to a memory – Grade 7 Choir headed by a woman named J.E. Work – Miss Work to Students and to all the adult teachers  – she was just that terrifying.

And Miss Work – she sang like an angel – because she was a professional choir mistress who had nothing but the best performance possible – so no reading sheet music and if any choir member sang a false note – she would stab her finger at them – and they would shut up – and slip quietly out of the choir and just have to sit and think and wait for her after the show.

And when the choir as a group – had a bad start – she would – stop the performance and BELLOW at the choir to CONCENTRATE AND BREATH and START AGAIN.

Now, how you were supposed to get your breath back after she terrified it out of you – well, that was your problem and if you couldn’t get enough air – well, let’s just say that no choir that I watched from grades 1 to 6 ever ever had to start a song a third time.

So – I went to one elementary school – Sir Richard McBride Elementary in New Westminster – it’s still there – but that Southern Baptist Church where I went to Church to Find Elvis – and I didn’t need to go to church to find Elvis – because I am an Elvis fan – and Elvis is only as far away from me as a play button.

There’s advantages of being an Elvis fan in this day and age – he’s so accessible and available to everyone – and Elvis – well, if you don’t understand already – then there is just no explaining to you – so google if you’re curious – makes no nevermind to me.

Now every student approaching 7th grade was afraid to get Miss Work – because in addition to Choir – she taught 7th grade.

Not only was Miss Work the scariest Choir teacher – she was also – in the words of my 8th grade English Teacher – “The Finest Language Arts Teacher in the District” and because I had gotten an A from Miss Work – I was moved out of regular English into the Challenge English Program.

So, when I grew up a little more – and realized – just how lucky that I had been – getting her as my language arts teacher – I sent her a Christmas Card – when I was in the 10th Grade – thanking her for having been such an inspirational teacher.

So a few years later – when my Mom was working for a local health provider company – and Miss Work was one of her clients – I learned that Miss Work remembered me – as the only student that she would look out at the class of dullards and mischief makers – and she remembered my face – staring at her and hanging on her every word.

Miss Work – I adore you and I love you – and this earth is a far sadder place without you – but – some of the good that I have done since we parted so many years ago in 1979 – and some of the good that I will do in 2012 and beyond – belongs to Miss Work’s Karma sheet – because I know – that if there is a Celestial Choir anywhere in the Universe – Miss Work – well, she sings like an Angel – and she conducts – like Lucifer the Light Bearer – so, if I know Miss Work – and I really really do – she’s not lead singing in the Choir – she is making them sing better – no matter how long or how many takes – that it takes.

Now the reason that I mention Miss Work is because I am going to be adding a Video Componant to this blog – starting this friday.

I have some technical matters to get sorted – but there will be a video of me on this blog on Friday.

The reason that I mention Miss Work is to bring up someone else – someone you might have conjured up in your mind when I was talking about Miss Work.

and that is – Susan Boyle, who is no Miss Work.

You see – I need to talk about Susan Boyle before I put any video of me on my blog – because I am a 44 year old woman, middle aged and I am overweight – I was not an overweight child – I was just tall – and somehow – that resulted in my being bullied – to a very limited degree – because when I was a child – I was a tomboy – and I could punch harder and run for longer than any boy no matter how much faster that boy was than this fat girl – and every boy in school – knew better than to tease me.

Because I could not tell the difference between boys mean teasing and boys flirting teasing  – or rather – I didn’t care about the difference. I was teased at the teaser’s peril.

So all the dumb games that boys played on girls – I did not react like a girl – I reacted – like a boy – and was picked for referee before team sports where picked and everyone knew that I was the teacher’s second pair of eyes – so there’s good reasons why me and Miss Work – got each other.

And if you ever wonder why women become lesbians – well – it’s because of how boys behave when they are boys – and well, that’s a whole other blog – you see – I have many skills and a lot of interests – and what I have never had before – was time. Or as Virgina Woolf wrote – a Room of One’s Own.

So – you are going to want to talk a calm and deep breath – and just let go of all the thoughts that you have in your head – because I want to explain something about Susan Boyle.

When she was middle aged – she tried out for a talent contest program and she did not make it to the finals. She was a passable singer who was pleasant appearing – average, in a word.

Which brings us to Susan Boyle’s debut in front of Simon Cowel and her angelic voice and how her fame fizzled out when she prettied up – because everyone realized that she was an average singer but in a quirky package – and it was the cognitive dissonance – in the mind of the viewers – that was broken – because in that Moment – that was validated by Simon Cowell’s utter shocked astonishment:

so you know if you played that video and I don’t mind whatever it was that you got out of watching that video. IF anything in that video made you laugh or smile – then good – it means that you have joy in your heart.

And, if you are a reader of my blog – you will know exactly why I am glad that you have joy in your hearts. Because Joy is exactly what I am all about.

So I am going to tell you – what I watched when I saw the video – being played on very computer in Department 7 – the workplace where I was bullied – but don’t worry about me – I am safe and protected and surrounded by my family. I have a room of my own.

So first – we see Quirky Nervous and whatever people think – they think – and these screen captures were what set the tone:

Oh…..Mean Girl Sex Kitten

Eh….nothing impresses Jock/GOP Simon

But when Susan Boyle – finally got to stop talking and sing – she stopped being nervous – because she didn’t have to face that audience anymore.

Because she could take a breath – and center and calm herself and pretend that she was at home – alone in her living room – where everyone on the room believed in her – or pretend that she was out and about in her garden or going about her daily life – and relax and just sing her heart and soul out – because Susan Boyle sang every day of her life.

And everyone who watched the video – they experienced and felt and saw – whatever it is that they saw.

And those judges – the three show judges, the judging in studio audience and the judging at home audience and then everyone who watched that video over and over – no matter where any of us started – by the time – Susan Boyle finished singing that one song – everyone’s minds had changed.

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The belief that nothing pretty can arise from ugliness is a pervasive thought.

Mostly because – average people can’t imagine – can’t dream and so they don’t dare to dream.

And when – Susan Boyle – took the world by storm – she swept my office too – everyone in my office was talking about her.

I can’t tell you how many people showed me that video – and were disappointed when I wasn’t surprised by Susan’s voice or impressed with the performance.

The people who didn’t know me well in my office – all thought that they were encouraging or something – but they didn’t understand that the lesson of Susan Boyle was not about me.

I already know that beauty is possible to arise from ugliness – because some of the most beautiful people in my office – were the ones who were generating all the ugliness in the office.

And the ones who weren’t so beautiful – just generated more ugliness to compensate.

Now – I was in junior choir in Church and I was in junior and senior choir in Elementary School and I even did a semester of Choir in High School – because I enjoy singing – but I am not a singer – never wanted to be – not really – being on stage or in front of a camera – is not what interests me in life.

I am a writer – of many kinds of writing – poems to technical manuals.

I am a Graphic and Visual artist – and I think I might just let people wonder about why I separated graphic from visuals…….

I am a storyteller and for that – I need an audience – to adjust the story to the audience’s interest level. So I am a performance artist, not really an actor – although I took acting in high school under 3 teachers and in University under 2 teachers.

And I know which ones who’s names I listed in all those Oscar speeches that I practiced – when I was alone at home – in front of the mirror – and I know which ones – are the names that I most remember and why.

But, I am also a math child prodigy who preferred arts to science – but when I was – well – last year – I couldn’t understand what was happening to me.

I knew what and who and when and how. I mean – everyone is the expert of their own experience – so why people think that they can convince you that you are not experiencing exactly what you say you are experiencing – well – I kinda collapsed under the cognitive dissonance of being told my personal experiences were not reality – and I got fatigued under the waiting for what stage in the process that the policies and leglisation that governed the workplace would actually start being applied in said workplace and when did Human Resources and the Union who was supposed to enforce policy would actually …well, enforce the policy and tell management that there is no such thing as Manager’s Privilege that can override – not only the collective agreement, but all the Treasury Board Policy and Legislation and well, – right on up to the Charter of Rights (1985) of Canada.

But that’s not what I want to talk about – ever again – unless someone is actually going to help me – because – well – I never read philosophy before – and I had no idea – how funny it could be – so here are some of the most appriopriate and hysterically funny to me quotes – and if you aren’t laughing – don’t worry – not everyone can understand Friedrich Nietzsche‘ sense of humour:

  • And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
  • All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.
  • Idleness is the parent of psychology.
  • Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.
  • A subject for a great poet would be God’s boredom after the seventh day of creation.
  • A great value of antiquity lies in the fact that its writings are the only ones that modern men still read with exactness.
  • Before the effect one believes in different causes than one does after the effect.
  • Egoism is the very essence of a noble soul.
  • Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.
  • Faith: not wanting to know what is true.
  • Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
  • It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night.

And he said: No one lies so boldly as the man who is indignant.

To which, I offer this counterpart:

No one truths so outrageously, as a woman – with a room of her own and who is safe and protected by her family after she has been world-scorned.

So I ask again – dearest readers – for I have exerted myself in my own defense for so long – that I am no longer able to fend off attacks – and I have sought nothing less than to entertain the whole world – so show everyone – that I am

as smart as I am a pain in the ass

A request that will not take too much of your time – just a click and a copy and paste – something that each of you does – many times a day:

 

 

And I am going to finish this blog – giving each of you – a small sample – of the kind of person I used to be.

Women in Film & Video Vancouver – has an annual fancy party and the theme of this party was the roaring 20’s – because all the actresses on the board – liked to dress up in fancy period costume – but I do not wear dressed and it was too obvious for me to dress as a male gangster – so the first fancy party that I went – the roaring 20’s – I came dressed as:

Elvis Fan vs Nostalgia Buff

I dunno if anyone else watches the Penn & Teller Bullshit show..well. I know a lot of people watch it – but if you read this and you don’t, you probably should be.

best.show.ever.

They did an episode on people who are consumed to a degree by nostalgia – normally this takes the form of “the good old days” – and often, it’s the 1950’s and a decade the folks looking back to never lived during.

It’s that wistful longing for the simpler days of Dad earns the money and Mom cleans the house wearing pearls, Leave it To Beaver nonsense that only existed on TV.

the 50's pearl necklace.....

But, it got me to thinking – is our continued devotion to Elvis all these years later on par, or is it something different?

When I think about the 1950’s, it’s the way Elvis shook it up and changed everything, it’s not longing for some Valium driven wholesomeness, it’s the excitement and the sex, the turmoil


But I don’t want to be in that era, or turn now into that era – I think we need to be building on Elvis’ legacy – increase civil rights, eliminate more diseases, create more music and figure out new ways to do thing, to combine things and above all, blow off steam and have a good time.

So, I don’t think that keeping Elvis music playing and Elvis in our hearts as backwards nostalgia and perhaps part of that is that Elvis himself was never a nostalgia act – he changed ever decade, performed current music and played his oldies with new arrangements or as medleys.

Elvis was forward momentum, and I think that we haven’t caught up to him yet.