"It's very hard to live up to an image"(Love Me,Love The Life I Lead)
Elvis said something illuminating about himself during his June 1972 press conference in New York:"The image is one thing,and the human being is another."
Elvis's fame and success were larger than life.So it was only fitting that his guise onstage was that of a rock n' roll superhero.He was perceived by many as a kind of performing Superman--an invincible man of power,prestige and indefatigable morals.If you look at the old comic books of Captain Marvel,you will see a character remarkably similar to Elvis's concert persona:spangled jumpsuit,large decorative belt,flowing cape,slick black hair modeled into a tight pompadour.It's an amazing resemblance!
Thats because he based his stage persona on such a character.As Elvis revealed during his 1971 Jaycee's acceptance speech,"When i was a child...I was a dreamer .I read comic books and i was the hero of the comic book."Elvis was making direct reference to Captain Marvel!As a child,he viewed the world from the disadvantaged point of a poor southern boy and dreamt of being successful,not so much for himself,but for his parents.He hoped that he would someday be able to provide luxuries for them and share his wealth with others.When his dreams came true,thats precisely what he did with his success.
Captain Marvel was the chidhood fantasy figure he identified with and ultimately became.Once Elvis was famous,he honed an image that was designed to show his fans,many of whom were very working class,that their dreams were achievable as well.He was a living,breathing representation of their desires and ambitions.He was conveying the message,"Look,see all this wealth I now possess...I grew up poor...you can make your dreams come true also...if you work hard and have faith."He felt his fans expected this type of opulent lifestyle from him.He believed it inspired them to achieve what he had achieved for himself.He obtained a lofty position in show buisness,but as he also said in June of 1972,"It's very hard to live up to an image,I'll put it that way."
I witnessed first-hand the pressures he experienced being "Elvis Presley",pressures that would have completely crushed a lesser man much sooner than they began to affect Elvis.He never forgot his humble beginnings.He respected and treated all people well.If he showed any favoritism,it was for the underpriveleged and needy.
Even as a dirt-poor kid with nothing,Elvis displayed remarkable generosity.Linda Thompson once told me,even as a boy,he would take his comic books and go outside and hand them out to the other poor kids in the neighborhood.I also remember a story where Elvis overheard his dad,who had been out of work,alone,crying to himself that he did'nt have enough money to provide for his family.Elvis said a prayer that he would have enough money so he could afford to take care of his mom and dad.Obviously,his prayers were answered.
Touring through Graceland museum today,it would appear that Elvis was a very materialistic person.In actuality,he placed little value on material things.He enjoyed these possessions and used them to entertain his friends and family,but he would just as soon give any of it away...just as he had those comic books as a child.I've seen him do it dozens of times.On several occasions he handed off valuable gifts to lucky fans right from the concert stage."They bought it for me,it belongs to them,"he would say.He wanted people to have a taste of what it was like to own something they could only dream of affording.It reminded him of when he was a boy,sitting on the corner outside the projects where he lived,watching cars go by.He would pick out a favorite vehicle and say,'I'm gonna own one of those someday."Elvis never forgot where he came from.His humble beginnings and the strict moral code infused in him by his mother were two important stabilizers that enabled him to cope with the temptations and trappings of fame successfully for as long as he did.
Elvis's image was very much a paradox.He felt his talent was a gift from God.He felt a deep responsibility to share and protect the honor of this gift for fear it would be taken away from him should it be taken for granted.He was a devoutly religious man,yet he was incapable of being faithful to any woman for any substantial length of time.He read the Bible voraciously and could quote large passages from it verbatim,yet he fell victim to the insidious trappings of drug abuse.It was a lifelong struggle for him to honor his religious beliefs to the letter,failings you may consider as hypocritical,but at his core he was a spiritual man who passionately believed in God.He pursued his faith in earnest,and if he faltered,prayed for forgiveness.I doubt any one of us could have done substantially better avoiding the pitfalls of success had we been bestowed his level of power and influence.
I want you to know that at his core,Elvis was a wonderful,decent person.He cared deeply about his fans and sacrificed a great deal of his personal life to please them.He loved his country and supported its military.He was a praying man and he respected people.He honored his parents,cared for his daughter and cherished his friends.He strove to be the pillar of strenghth we all could rely upon.He rarely complained of his own problems but was always there to listen and help us with ours.His generosity knew no bounds.He lived to make people happy,and he himself was happiest when he brought joy to someone else.I wish there was a way all the good he has done with his gifts throughout the world could be measured.The comfort and enjoyment his music brings tomillions every day is impossible to comprehend.His influence as a performer and as a humanitarian has touched untold millions of people.We can never compile exact statistics,but i believe Elvis Presley will forever remain one of the most inspirational and influential men the world will ever know.
But Elvis was a man,not a God.If some of the things i have mentioned in this book challenge my idealistic portrait some may have of who Elvis Presley is to them,you must realize he was a human being.A very special human being...but he was still only human.He had flaws and failings as every single one of us does.I don't think that its fair that some of his personal shortcomings should in any way taint the incredible reputation he maintained throughout his career as an incredibly giving and caring person.The world today is alot better off because we had Elvis Presley.
It's important to remember in the world of today,where many top celebrities routinely offend and corrupt their impressionable audiences,that although Elvis had his demons,he never portrayed that side of his nature to his public.Onstage,he made it clear he was there to entertain and make his audience happy."If we do that,then we've done our job,"he would say.He did not abuse the spotlight to further his political agenda,nor did he preach or lecture his audience for or against any belief system or cause.He was aware of his tremendous influence,particularily on young people,and was always careful to be a positive role model for his fans.After he passed,many people just refused to believe that Elvis was imperfect.It harks back to his statement,"Its very hard to live up to an image."Elvis straddled the fence between coping with the pressures of his career and maintaining his clean-cut wholesome image.He desperately tried to accomplish both for two full decades,and it simply began to wear him out.Elvis did not lead a normal life.He lead the life he chose,100%,but it surely was not normal.
Elvis was not a writer,nor did he do many interviews during his post-Army years.He communicated instead through his music and live performances.One song he recorded in 1971 perfectly conveys his philosophy for those who may have tried to second-guess the perception he had of his own lifestyle.I'm sure thats why he chose to record "Love Me,Love The Life I Lead."It was as if he were using the song to say to those around him,"Look,I was destined to be this guy"Elvis Presley".If you want to be with me,you have to accept me and my abnormal lifestyle at face value.Don't question my needs or my actions.I have to have things this way in order to continue to be who i need to be in this world."
If you're gonna love me,love the life i lead
I need the things i need,don't try to change me
If you're gonna take me,take me for what i am
I can't be another man
I can't be free of the life i lead
From Straight Up-
*I'm exhausted after typing this!:merryxmas:oops::helpsmili:cheers:(lol):)(y): king:(y)