If any of guys take the time to look at Elvis' recording history for 1970-1972, you could see how pathetic it was they way the released the songs. He could've had at least 2 more number 1 carted albums.
Why? IMO Because he had something to prove in each of those periods.
Elvis never claimed to have a creative vision that I can recall reading or hearing about-such as the Beatles, or Stones or Dylan. IMO Elvis loved to sing. From 53-56 he wanted to get his family out of poverty and he wanted to prove he could be big-to himself.
In 1960 he wanted to prove coming out of the Army he was still number 1 and he could sing more than just rock and roll- to the public and more important to himself.
Same In 68, he wanted to prove he was not over the hill, that he could still rock- still thrill the crowd. From 69 to 71 he wanted to prove he could still make hits quality records, show his voice was still expanding and growing and show he could still sell out everytime. He met those challenges-he surpassed even his own dreams. Very little was left to conquer that was open to him.
With Elvis someone else had to be helping with the creative musical vision and direction. Felton Jarvis was the producer of record-but how much direction and vision did he bring to the sessions? The Col was comfortable with him, Elvis liked him and Felton let Elvis run the sessions. So Elvis sang what he liked and enjoyed -and was bored. He would rather joke and kid around than concentrate on music. He needed someone he respected to challenge him with musical ideas-to really produce him.
But when someone else(outside the Col. and Elvis's world)was in charge-Elvis was pushed and he usually did his best. Did Elvis recognise this? Probably not-he was constantly told by everyone how great his sessions went, how great the songs were, how great he was singing. Did he seem to enjoy and respect working with Chips Moman, Marty Pasetta and Steve Binder-yes.
These guys told Elvis the truth and he respected them for it-he put faith in their opinions-he was motivated to create with them. IMO THis is what the Col, more often than not, did not want happening often. It took the control and power out of his hands. If Elvis relied too much on others-he might see some of the Colonels ideas were not as productive as Col. wanted Elvis to believe. That was Parkers motivation.
Instead of Elvis learning early on that collaboration is a good thing-he was warned against doing it.
The apathy that dogged his career came from Elvis himself.If the artist doesnt care about his craft what do you expect?Elvis became satisfied.I think he was happy with the measure of success he obtained while he was alive.He was a dirt poor kid who achieved things he never could have imagined or ever expected.The drugs ended up being the final nail in the coffin for any artistic rebirth in the 70''s.Elvis just became a live act playing the same venues over and over.Look to his live shows for signs of Elvis' artistic vision and creativity.He had complete control over his concerts.We all know how they went.It's no coincidence his recording career at the time mirrored the same dismal situation.
-Take the Col. rules and ideas (put in place at the start)out of the equation- 20 years later do we see the same Elvis who did become totally bored with every end of his life? Do we see the same Elvis who feels he has nothing left to prove? Would he have become a different artist and man by being free to musically interact with say John Lennon, or Dylan. Johnny Cash had some of the same problems as Elvis-but he was free to record with anyone he wanted and to exchange musical ideas. Cash had his ups and downs but he would do new things, new producers, new writers etc. He was never limited. IMO it could have made a huge difference in Elvis and his growth as a man and artist.
Or was it wiser to close him off, to say he needs nothing and no one- but Parker, the MM, and his long time musicians of the 50s and 60s who worked the sessions and did what ever told? Not only close him off from others-but convince him he needs no one else-that he is being protected. I posted a letter not long ago (to ELvis from Parker in 73) out of the book "Elvis Day by Day" in which Parker is telling ELvis to -avoid the friends who come to you to put their arms around your shoulders and try to get you to do things they will benefit from(paraphrasing) How many times from 1955 till ELvis died did such letters, and conversations take place that are not even known?
IMO the mindset was in from day one-and that mindset was Parkers game.
As I have said many times before no man is an island. Most people have to interact and be affected by that interaction in life. Elvis had a huge interaction in his life from 55 till his death with Parker.
Parker was described by many as shrewd. SOme thought Parker hypnotized or blackmailed Elvis to get him to be so agreeable. Not nearly that exotic an answer IMO. He convinced Elvis. The game of the con was Parkers-to convince the people he dealt with that Parker was all wise, all knowing, and had all the answers. Elvis bought the con-and all that it entailed that is where I fault Elvis.
Last edited by KPM; 04-15-2008 at 12:32 PM.
I agree with you, KPM. ^ Elvis wasn't even 21 years old when Parker got ahold of him. Time enough to convince anyone he's "god."
Glady's didn't like him or trust him. Too bad she passed so soon.
"I have learned never to ridicule any man's opinion, however strange it may seem."
If Elvis truly had the desire to do something he would have done it.For all the Col's faults maybe Elvis was just plain satisfied with the way things were.Weve all heard how the later recording sessions went.Elvis never showed,was late,or in to foul a mood to do anything constructive.Maybe the sad truth is that Elvis' best days creatively were behind him.I know that's to hard for may to accept and I understand.Dont forget for his last session RCA had to come to Graceland.If that's not the definition of lazy what is?
I see My reply was delete
Take a look at you and me,,Are we too blind to see, Do we Simply turn our heads and look the other way.....(Line From "in The Ghetto")
No one can look at Elvis' life, especially during the 1970's, and not be able to draw a parallel between the music he was recording and the circumstances in his life at that time. Of course the classic example of this would be the recordings of ALWAYS ON MY MIND and SEPARATE WAYS while going through his separation/divorce with Priscilla.
But looking even deeper at some of his music, one can see the recording of PROMISED LAND, which is a song that has been written about as a song that goes nowhere and compare that to the seemingly endless schedule of one night stands that Elvis was performing by the time it was recorded in late '73.
And what about songs like IT'S EASY FOR YOU and HURT? Songs that I am sure were recorded out of Elvis' continued love for Priscilla.
TCB-World...OPEN for business!!!
I agree with all of what you say, Elvis became so unconcerned with his music, creatively lazy, bored, and looked for ways to avoid what obviously was no longer fun-what had in fact become work. Anyone who has worked at creating music knows that when it becomes work "you lose the spark"
I agree with all that-where we disagree is on the "how and why" he got to that point. He use to have the desire to go into the studio and he use to work harder than anyone at getting the music he wanted. How did he get to the point of not caring-not enjoying to create music. I think in my earlier posts I have given my opinion as to a great deal of the reason and theres no reason to repeat myself. I would venture a guess that if you could have asked Elvis why he hated to go into the studio, why he lost that drive-he would not have given much of an answer-I don't think he even knew. He came alive for brief moments on stage in songs that touched him-that meant something to him. That may have been the only moments that really meant much to him at that point.
Was reading the thread with Jerry Shillings interview in Goldmine -he seems to have the same take on some things as I do. The whole interview is pretty interesting.
GM: In that interview, Elvis speaks about how doing the movies was making him “physically ill.” Why couldn’t Elvis have said, “Enough, I’m not doing these crappy songs or these crappy films”?
JS: Some big-name stars who I’ve spoken to have said similar things to me: “Jerry, he was Elvis Presley. He could do what he wanted to do.” I was there when he protested that he wasn’t gonna do a film. He was told if he didn’t honor these contracts he couldn’t do anything. The Colonel had a network, and he controlled the record company. He controlled the studios when it came to Elvis product. He controlled the agency, and don’t forget, the same thing happened on the road.
..... This guy was a creative giant that they gave morsels to, and it just didn’t sustain him.
The bottom line is, ill health & drug addiction combined were a lethal concoction, which robbed a great man of the ability to function on the same level as he did circa 69-71.
No doubt that Elvis was peaked when he recorded with Chips in 1969 and he was very much wanting to come back, wanting a hit song, wanting to sing good material again; however, it is very difficult to sustain that sort of peak for any length of time. He did however continue to have sparks of creativity and could still move a crowd when he had the right song. And some will argue also that it is all about timing, too. He has said that timing played a part in his music in the 50's. The time was right when he recorded with Chips, because Chips was on a roll, too. He came to Vegas at the right time; the International was the latest thing in entertainment. But timing was not on his side when his personal life fell apart, timing was not on his side when other musicians came on the scene and the whole scene changed while he was becoming more and more addicted to drugs. Some argue that he could have dug his way out, but drugs are bad - whether prescribed or not - they will ruin your life and steal your soul. I think that was what happened to Elvis. But because he has sustained such a large fan base over 30 years, he life has been examed with a fine-tooth comb and we can look at each release as it relates to his life - personally and professionally. Elvis always wanted his "Becket" and I have always believed he got it!!
"More people today should see him not simply as a performer, but as an artist with a great soul."
John Bakke, professor emeritus
University of Memphis