THE MOST IMPORTANT AND REVEALING BOOK EVER WRITTEN
ON THE LIFE OF ELVIS PRESLEY
You probably think you know all there is to know about Elvis Presley. Everyone knows about the King of Rock and Roll; he’s been profiled and written about in hundreds of books, more than any other entertainer or cultural icon in history. Who hasn’t heard his Elvis’ music, seen his movies, or attended his concerts? Many of you remember where you were the day you heard Elvis Presley had died. Some of you still don’t want to believe he’s gone.
What you hold in your hands is not a conventional Elvis biography, another version of the story that’s been told and retold. This book looks into the nucleus, the very essence of the man; it’s the unexplored dimension of his life, a story dramatically different from any other. Yes, Elvis was a musical genius, an original who burst upon the cultural scene like a powerful comet, disrupting and transforming the course of music, style, and our lives forever. Guitar slung over his shoulder, he radiated a magnetic sexual force and soft smoldering sulkiness, inspiring and provoking the imagination of generations to come. The rising generation was enthralled by the freedom he represented, discovering in him an antidote to the restraints of the puritanical fifties. He articulated their dreams, their frustrations, and their longings for something more, and assuaged loneliness for so many.
His “sinful” hip-swinging music, with its radical black beat, struck the first note of the coming youth revolution. Alice Walker wrote in her novel The Temple of My Familiar, “In Elvis white Americans found a reason to express their longing and appreciation for the repressed Native American and black parts of themselves.” The Godfather of soul, James Brown, said, “He taught white America to get down.”
The great American conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein said Elvis was “the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century…He introduced the beat to everything, and he changed everything, music, language, clothes; it’s a whole new social revolution—the sixties comes from it. Because of him, a man like me barely knows his musical grammar any more.”
Elvis, always the innocent in his heart, innately used his almost magical power to engender ever more love from his audiences. They gave up their energy to him as if he were the sun and they were orbiting planets drawn to him for heat and light. His charisma reached out to them like a bolt of lightning from the concert stage, from records and the movie screen. He gave them the hillbilly singer, the opera star, the sex symbol, the preacher; his voice had a quality that transformed itself to the message of the songs he sang, with a twang or a soft croon or a profound depth of feeling for the holy. In return, they gave him their undying love and adulation. Most importantly, he touched their souls and they believed him.
We are not, however, our public persona, none of us. We are all like icebergs, with little of our essence revealed above the waterline. How much truer of Elvis, whose image was so powerful and charismatic that it blinded his admirers and detractors alike to any possibility of a man whose essential being was so far from his projection on the worldwide stage.
His fabled, turbulent life and career are legendary and have been covered extensively: from his humble birth and impoverished childhood in a tiny wooden shotgun two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi; to his musical beginnings as a teenaged truck driver discovered at Sun Records by Sam Phillips; to his meteoric rise to international fame launched and managed by the flamboyant Colonel Tom Parker. Many of the books written about Elvis are interesting, insightful, and valuable in helping to satisfy the need to learn everything we can about our cultural icons. Regrettably, some of the books fall into the category of fallacious tabloid “revelations.”
Despite this abundance of information, even the most dedicated and ardent fan who knows every song, every movie, all the personal and professional minutiae of his life likely does not know that which is most intriguing and revealing: the very heart and soul of the man born Elvis Aaron Presley.
Our lives are not a series of external events and their causal and linear relationships. Each life is an assemblage, a gestalt of countless pieces, patterned and formed like a jigsaw puzzle into a distinctive characterization. And just as with a jigsaw puzzle, there are certain key pieces without which the picture is incomplete. The central theme of a puzzle is not found on the pieces around the edges, the sky or the foliage in the foreground. For Elvis, his growing need to be close to and understand the nature of God and his own place in God’s universe was drawn on those pieces that connect in the very center of his puzzle. You will find in this book those revealing pieces that complete the picture that is Elvis.
Most of Elvis’ days were filled with laughter, excitement, and exuberance. He wore no mask, remaining always true to himself, vulnerable and incandescent, serious and flippant. Most importantly, he was totally committed to his spiritual search, neither a dilettante nor a metaphysical dabbler.
“This beautifully written book introduced me to the Elvis I never knew.”