I was born in 1960 so I really didn't discover music until the late 1970's so you can guess that I was never a big Elvis fan. I didn't dislike his music but it wasn't something that I'd seek out. However my Aunt Nancy was C.R.A.Z.Y. about him. In the summer of 1987 I was assigned to a consulting job in Memphis and shortly after I started working there I found an Elvis postcard and sent it to her. Just a little postcard. She was so excited that she wrote me a whole letter thanking me!
I was in Memphis for about 5 or 6 months and I never went to Graceland once. I was there in August on the 10th anniversary of his death and it was insane. There were Elvis fans everywhere. It was bordering on creepy.
I'm not sure how I found Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley but I thought it might be interesting. Lately I've really been enjoying listening to music industry biographies (Life by Keith Richards remains my favorite) so I thought this might be interesting.
Here's the publisher's summary:
Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley is the first biography to go past that myth and present an Elvis beyond the legend. Based on hundreds of interviews and nearly a decade of research, it traces the evolution not just of the man but of the music and of the culture he left utterly transformed, creating a completely fresh portrait of Elvis and his world.
This volume tracks the first 24 years of Elvis' life, covering his childhood, the stunning first recordings at Sun Records ("That's All Right," "Mystery Train"), and the early RCA hits ("Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel"). These were the years of his improbable self-invention and unprecedented triumphs, when it seemed that everything that Elvis tried succeeded wildly. There was scarcely a cloud in sight through this period until, in 1958, he was drafted into the Army and his mother died shortly thereafter. The audiobook closes on that somber and poignant note.
Last Train to Memphis takes us deep inside Elvis' life, exploring his lifelong passion for music of every sort (from blues and gospel to Bing Crosby and Mario Lanza), his compelling affection for his family, and his intimate relationships with girlfriends, mentors, band members, professional associates, and friends. It shows us the loneliness, the trustfulness, the voracious appetite for experience, and above all the unshakable, almost mystical faith that Elvis had in himself and his music. Drawing frequently on Elvis' own words and on the recollections of those closest to him, the audiobook offers an emotional, complex portrait of young Elvis Presley with a depth and dimension that for the first time allow his extraordinary accomplishments to ring true.
It turns out that this is the first volume of a projected 2-volume biography and I will keep an eye out for the second volume.
As I said, I didn't know anything about Elvis in his early years and this book takes us up until the minute he leaves for Germany and his Army assignment. If you have any interested in music or music history I highly recommend this book. It's really well written and narrated.
I had no idea what an overnight sensation he was and how unprepared everyone was for a new type of fan mania. The book is full of personal details and stories from the people in Elvis' life. But it's also an insight to what life is like for a young person experiencing instant stardom.
If Aunt Nancy were still here I'd call her and tell her that I get it now.