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Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:07 am

Interesting...that famous quote about Elvis dying when he went into the army was said at the time he died? How insensitive. Did that
leak out later or what? It also was absurd and passes without comment by the author,
never mind the great studio work of 1960, the gospel triumphs, the '68 Comeback...holding court at Madison Square Garden and Hawaii, etc.


I noticed the author couldn't resist a rip on late-period Elvis. Okay, "bloated" and even "binge eating" could be noted, as well as the prescription drugs, but the rest seems written like a
a Beatle partisan. While I get the point,
I've also seen enough of Elvis' audiences (and he didn't just play Vegas, something common
to many rock bands today) but toured nationwide to audiences of all ages, a truly "man of the
people," not just "blue-rinsed matrons."

Lennon was an incredible artist and public figure but such depictions of Elvis
as a failed one-time rebel are always intended (consciously or not) to minimalize Elvis' cultural and artistic importance that far expanded beyond mere "rock and roll". I give
all credit to Lennon's work and have a great affection for his last works, incidentally.
But as a result of such comments, I sometimes bristle at Lennon and (in my experience) too many Beatle / Lennon followers.
narrowness toward's Lennon's one-time idol.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:02 am

intheghetto wrote: As far as John Lennon's insensitive comment, I get it. I don't necessarily agree, but I understand the context.


Ditto!

I much prefer the classic "Before Elvis there was nothing" though. Nice to see Lennon wearing his Elvis pin in 1975, the year his original hero turned 40.

Image

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:18 am

I think Lennon is misunderstood at times.

Here's my take on a couple of his Elvis comments:

"Before Elvis there was nothing" = "Before Elvis came along, there was nothing in music that interested me"

"Elvis died when he went in the army" = "Having been a fan of the early Elvis, with his wild & rebellious image, things were never quite the same after he left the army"

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:35 am

I can't seem to find the page about Elvis. If Lennon's line about Elvis `died when he went in the arm' came from Aug 16, 1977 that is indeed insensitive, though I would like to hear the total context.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:50 am

ColinB wrote:I think Lennon is misunderstood at times.

Here's my take on a couple of his Elvis comments:

"Before Elvis there was nothing" = "Before Elvis came along, there was nothing in music that interested me"

"Elvis died when he went in the army" = "Having been a fan of the early Elvis, with his wild & rebellious image, things were never quite the same after he left the army"



Colin, I've never heard of anybody that has ever thought any differently as to what Lennon was actually getting at. I think the world would agree on that.

Although, I think your word "Interested" isn't the correct term. Elvis was a lot more than that, more like 'Blew my mind' like nothing that has come before.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:58 am

I think Lennon was just giving his opinion ,which was his perogative

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:12 pm

Special Edition wrote:
rickeap wrote:I can't seem to find the page about Elvis.


same here
Glad I'm not alone! I even read some of the pages, which I really wasn't interested in doing.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:21 pm

ColinB wrote:I think Lennon is misunderstood at times.

Here's my take on a couple of his Elvis comments:

"Before Elvis there was nothing" = "Before Elvis came along, there was nothing in music that interested me"

"Elvis died when he went in the army" = "Having been a fan of the early Elvis, with his wild & rebellious image, things were never quite the same after he left the army"


Spot on Colin. In the interviews he gave shortly before he was murdered, Lennon repeated this comment and expanded it to suggest that the army 'castrated' Elvis. Lennon was a massive fan of the wild and rebellious image. I guess in the eyes of John Lennon his hero went from rebel to conformist and he put it down to being in the army.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:32 pm

I think it is sad that with all the great milestones is Elvis's life,
most people just remember the sad end ............

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:44 pm

Here's a fabulous video...

I'll Remember You ( A John Lennon Tribute by Elvis Presley)

phpBB [video]

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:57 pm

I don't really think there is cause for offense over Lennon's words, but they do carry a certain sting, and I think I know why.

Lennon's 'Elvis died when they put him in the army' comment is certainly not the most outrageously offensive statement made on the occasion of Elvis's passing. Consider Jerry Lee Lewis's reaction when asked how he felt when he heard about Elvis's death:

Jerry Lee Lewis wrote:I was glad. Just another one out of the way. I mean, Elvis this, Elvis that. All we hear is Elvis. What the sh*t did Elvis do except take dope that I couldn't get ahold of?


And that's the short version! Still, Lewis's words don't quite hold the bitter sting of Lennon's dismissal. There is an honesty to Lewis's reaction that makes it almost more comic than bitter. The fact that even while a massive outpouring of love for Elvis was overwhelming the Memphis authorities, Lewis could still see himself, in the low point of his career, as a rival of Elvis's who was nipping at his heels reveals more about Lewis's mindset than it does about Elvis Presley.

Lennon's statement is similarly revealing.

If you've ever watched a certain scene in the Imagine documentary, about the making of Lennon's landmark album, you'll know what I mean. A rabid fan has somehow manages to make his way up to Lennon's house, and starry-eyed and unwashed, begins to ask John Lennon all of the deep questions about life and art that he has sure Lennon must hold the key to. Lennon for him is not a mere man, but a mystic on a plane of existence beyond those of mere mortals. Lennon goes out of his way to disillusion the guy. He literally almost makes the guy cry by insisting that he's just a normal guy. No different from anyone else. The idol is revealed to be a man, and the fan is left all alone with all of life's difficult questions that seemed so surely answered moments before.

You see, Elvis did exactly the same thing to John Lennon when he let them shave off his sideburns and started marching to military time. Lennon had found someone to follow, someone who would lead the eternal fight to demolish all of the silly walls that the establishment erects. Alas, seeing photos of Elvis in Military Issue olive drab, Lennon found himself alone in the world again.

So his words are not those of a Rock God, or even criticism from one of Elvis's contemporaries, but those of a starry-eyed fan, bitterly disillusioned in 1958 and still coping with his own perceived loss.

The problem with the statement is not Lennon's intent, or that the facts of Elvis's career don't fit neatly into it's thesis. The problem is that the statement is repeated as gospel by thousands of starry-eyed fans who never had the opportunity to stumble into John Lennon's yard.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:14 pm

KingOfTheJungle wrote:If you've ever watched a certain scene in the Imagine documentary, about the making of Lennon's landmark album, you'll know what I mean. A rabid fan has somehow manages to make his way up to Lennon's house, and starry-eyed and unwashed, begins to ask John Lennon all of the deep questions about life and art that he has sure Lennon must hold the key to. Lennon for him is not a mere man, but a mystic on a plane of existence beyond those of mere mortals. Lennon goes out of his way to disillusion the guy. He literally almost makes the guy cry by insisting that he's just a normal guy. No different from anyone else. The idol is revealed to be a man, and the fan is left all alone with all of life's difficult questions that seemed so surely answered moments before.

You see, Elvis did exactly the same thing to John Lennon when he let them shave off his sideburns and started marching to military time. Lennon had found someone to follow, someone who would lead the eternal fight to demolish all of the silly walls that the establishment erects. Alas, seeing photos of Elvis in Military Issue olive drab, Lennon found himself alone in the world again.

So his words are not those of a Rock God, or even criticism from one of Elvis's contemporaries, but those of a starry-eyed fan, bitterly disillusioned in 1958 and still coping with his own perceived loss.
.


That's a great scene. Nice work on the parallels to Elvis.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:40 pm

I don't think it really matters what others say about Elvis it's all about how we feel about him.

Everyone has different opinions regarding Elvis.

B.B. King has said that he thought Elvis was still growing artistically when he died.

Harry Nillson thought the movie years was Elvis' best period.

Frank Sinatra alledgedly thought Elvis never grew up from the kids stuff.

Gene Pitney didn't like Elvis at all.

Gene Simmons only liked ''Hound dog'' and ''Jailhouse rock.''

Lisa Marie Presley likes the 70's music the best.

Some people like Elvis for his diversity while others don't like him for that same reason.

If Lennon didn't like Elvis after the army that's his opinion and that's fine.

If Elvis had come out and said that he didn't like any of Lennon's post Beatle material would Beatle fans or anyone else care.

I do agree with Greg that Lennon saying the ''Elvis died when he went into the army'' so soon after he passed away came across as insensitive and rude.

Jerry lee Lewis is just a jerk and what's with this make believe rivalry he had with Elvis.
They were never rivals Elvis was always a lot more popular there was never any competition.

You could say back in the 50's Pat Boone was the only real rival Elvis had as far as competing for the most hits.
Still I wouldn't even call Pat Boone a rival.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:27 pm

John Lennon was a big rock n' roll fan that liked the rebel image Elvis had in the 1950's.

When Elvis came out of the army he no longer had the rebel image nor was the majority of his music rock n' roll.

Lennon didn't like that or the family movies Elvis made so he was no longer a fan.

I don't think Lennon's comments ever had any deeper meaning than that.

Now some of Lennon's perceptions about Elvis were wrong which is understandable because he didn't know Elvis.

Elvis was never a rebel in real life and it was inevitable that the image he had would fade once rock n' roll became more acceptable.

Elvis liked all kinds of music the first songs he recorded were ballads and he tried out to be in a gospel group.

The fact is Elvis had more in common musically with Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Jones because they had very eclectic tastes in music and recorded a little bit of everything.

Lennon would have loved for Elvis to continue coming out with good rock songs and make rock albums but that wasn't Elvis.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:31 pm

Whether or not Elvis was forced in or joined up voluntarily is immaterial. Elvis was the symbol of the anti-establishment youth movement, and the fact that he seemed to just go along and try to be a 'good soldier' belied the myth of his larger than life image. Elvis was just a 'normal guy', and even he had to 'kowtow to the man'. The effect of that on a hero-worshiping teenager could be very similar in effect to the disillusioning the fan received at the hands of Lennon. By the way, I'm not faulting Elvis or Lennon. Losing your illusions isn't a bad thing. It's part of growing up. But it can leave a mark.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:44 pm

intheghetto wrote:As far as John Lennon's insensitive comment, I see where he's coming from. Yes there were more significant accomplishments following the army years. But for someone like Lennon who invested really a ton of emotion into Elvis when he first arrived on the scene, I get it. I don't necessarily agree, but I understand the context.

The comment wasn't insensitive so much as it was blunt, and a view many from John's generation held. Context is key, and Lennon's early life was marked by sudden loss of those close to him, like his biological mother, Julia. He grew a very hard shell around dealing with such events, such as when they learned of Stu Sutcliffe's early death at 21. Stu was perhaps his best friend in the early days, and John said very little. Given how very important Elvis Presley was to him, his comment is no surprise. Lennon remained a Presley advocate and fan until the end, too.


brian wrote:Now some of Lennon's perceptions about Elvis were wrong which is understandable because he didn't know Elvis.

Elvis was never a rebel in real life and it was inevitable that the image he had would fade once rock n' roll became more acceptable.

Never? It seems it is not Lennon whose perceptions about Elvis are wrong.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:52 pm

intheghetto wrote: In fact I think that Elvis' obligation to submit to the draft elevated his image as rebel.

intheghetto wrote:Being a 'victim of circumstance' is every part the rebel as there can be and that's what was happening to Elvis.

I also want to point out that it's clear Lennon didn't share this opinion. Look at his exact words as quoted in the text you linked. (With empahsis added).
John Lennon wrote:Elvis died the day they put him in the army.


intheghetto wrote:If your saying he was voluntarily revealing himself as 'normal guy' I don't agree. It something that happened *to* not *because* of him. Not the same.

But does it really matter whether or not Elvis's revealing himself as a normal guy was voluntary to a teenaged fan with inflated ideas of the rebel king? I don't think it does. The situations are analogous because they depict idealistic fans being hit with cold, hard reality. And at the end of the day, to the idealistic teenager, Elvis kowtowed. Helping serve up that harsh reality, whether he wanted to or not.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:39 pm

intheghetto wrote: What was the first thing he did after the service? He does GI Blues and is singing 'Five Sleepyheads' and 'Wooden Heart' to little children. From the presumed perspective of someone like John Lennon who was a fan of his since day one, that would be 'the day' Elvis died.


Actually, the first thing he did was cut the greatest album of his career, Elvis Is Back!, but I take your point about the movie music. But Lennon didn't say 'Elvis dies when he started those crappy movies', or ' Elvis' career started to decline when he came out of the army', he said

'Elvis died the day they put him in the army.' So if you don't agree with that, you're quarreling with Lennon, not me. And I think it's clear from comments by fans like Lennon and Martin Scorsese that seeing Elvis go into the army had just as much impact on their idea of him as the crappy movies later on. Remember, their admiration for Elvis had as much to do with image as it did with music. Starry-eyed teenagers everywhere saw him go from this:
03-ELVIS-01.jpg


To this:

elvis-presley_in_uniform.jpg


It's a shift that can easily be overlooked in hindsight, but it was a huge one and I think it marks the point of disillusionment with many fans. The perception Lennon was voicing is exactly why Elvis's landmark post-army sessions are frequently ignored or overlooked.
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Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:46 pm

Interesting discussion, folks and good points. For a time, history books even under-reported ELVIS IS BACK, didn't deal with his gospel sessions (after all, it doesn't rock and gulp, is religious), so it takes a while for a historical narrative to emerge. Lennon himself could walk around dismissing post-'60 Elvis if he wanted to...

The popular view tends to rub off and count out exceptions and can take years to dislodge, the same way that post-humous impersonators ironcially have sort of re-written Elvis' legacy..in a mostly negative way, given their favoring of sunglasses and usually no-where near Elvis-like looks...The perception, as the saying goes, becomes the reality, even it is clearly is not.

Even the way we idealize our own "best" years..be they as when one was a childm, both parents alive, still with all our brothers and sisters (out of a sense of nostalgia or loss), or perhaps it's one's high school years. or college or a great job you held down, we do put up walls and say "THAT...was the time.." If I could bottle that...etc.

But of course, it's a fiction and yes, Lennon's '50s Rockin' Rebel Elvis was a simplication of an already complex artist. Even as a kid (when I most liked '50s Elvis) I realized there was that Elvis, for all the rebellion, was also a dreamy and even conventional ballad singer who did "Love Me Tender" and "Loving You' and ..."Steadfast, Loyal and True." :lol: Even as a kid, I realized that "all rockin', all the time" is a lot of posturing and I learned that we can run down both ends of the street. By the same mentality, some critics of this bent , as I recall, didn't recognize the genius of "ELVIS IS BACK!" (...where's the "Tutti Fruiti? Where's the "Reddy Teddy"? etc. ) LIkewise with total skipping over his forays into gospel in 1960. These things didn't compute to someone who came of age with rock and roll and adopted it as a sort of worldview and socio-cultural outlook rather than just one of the great genres out there.

I'm glad Elvis was "never the same" after the army...I wouldn't want him (as much as I love them) to be a one-dimensional good rocking '50s rock and roller ( the great Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Bill Haley, etc.) I love them all but they hardly had that overall artistic diversity and range of Elvis. They all were "revived" in ten or so years but pretty much stayed in that bag..and God love'em for it. Elvis, in turn took some risks and yes, still developed.

I think the shot of Lennon sporting a snazzy ELVIS pin in '75 is a pretty good assessment that he still loved Elvis. How many of us "love" this or that family membe or siblingr...but wish the$%* he'd get a job...or that she's quit that jerk or etc...? So I take such criticism in stride and yes, it's true Elvis needed another "From Elvis in Memphis" in say, 1975 or 77, not more morose balladeering, as much as that was what some call a study in the man's depression. To the ex-Beatle's credit, he knew that rock had liberating qualities that might have saved him. LIke they say, stick to what you know and "dance with with the one that 'brung you'"...Ripping off fast and short rockers showed Elvis' own drift to what first made him so attractive, no matter how good a singer he was overall ...

As an aside, the non-conformist talk about police and the army, well, I hung out with some pseudo-rebels and anarchists in high school but even then ridiculed their glamorizing of such things from their middle-class comfort life-style. Elvis was still a good southern country boy behind his transgressions (sex, race, etc.) and sooner or later someone might see he wasn't about to upend the entire social order..and why do that anyway? Had Lennon lived longer we might also see his "rebel" pose become more and more hollow, for as it was not a few Beatle fans (including his assassin) took umbrage at the reality of the man behind the platitudes of "Imagine"'s utopia. LIkewise, quite a few lefties were disappointed when they found Bob Dylan was more than the earnest "relevant" folk singer they wanted him to be....forever.

**************
Looking back at the brief passage in the book, it's unclear how and when and whether he really said that on or about August 16th, unless i missed it. It's as if the author wants to make it appear that way..and to the juxtaposition of his description of a "bloated, binging" King tossing out "scraves to the blue hairs" or whatever is his way of being cynical and shocking..(oh, so Lennon-like) and moving on. I rather think Lennon might have really felt shocked or saddened by the man's final fall, at least once the microphones were away. I'm not buying those paragraphs as a depection of Lennon's true reaction. If my mother (who never met the man) was moved to cry about him the day he died, surely a guy who idolized Elvis, met him eventually, might have had it hit him in some ways,...especially when the media kept talking about it for some time. After all, he was suddenly "bigger than ever" ironically and if anything, I can imagine a contrarian like Lennon wanting to be glib just to move on from the excess, no matter if he largely meant it, artistically--- (ELVIS IS BACK, HIS HAND IN MINE, '68 Comeback, ALOHA, etc, be damned...)

His Elvisian-flavor on his great single "Starting Over" in the December of 1980 was to my young ears a clear tribute to the late King.
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:51 pm

Elvis is Back likely gets overlooked by 50's fans because it was an LP rather than a single.

Elvis is Back didn't sell as much as some of his previous LP's had so it's likely a lot of the 50's fans were unaware of it.
They were obviously more aware of the singles and movies.

It's a shame because it's really a great LP.

I took Martin Scorsese's comments in that interview to mean that he was never really a big Elvis fan in the first place.
He liked some of Elvis' songs and a couple of movies but that's it.
He didn't sound like he was as big a fan of Elvis like Lennon was.

Surprisingly Scorsese said he liked Flaming Star though.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:11 am

Good post, Greg. Some nice insights as usual.

brian wrote:Surprisingly Scorsese said he liked Flaming Star though.


It's nice to see, but I wasn't that surprised by it. Flaming Star is generally Elvis's best regarded film in cinema circles. It was in the Rough Guide to cult movies list of the best Cult Westerns, and legendary film critic Andrew Sarris praised the film as Elvis's best around the time it originally came out in the early 60's. It has a lesser reputation in rock circles, largely due to the idea that 'Elvis died the day they put him in the army'.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:25 am

KingOfTheJungle wrote:
brian wrote:Surprisingly Scorsese said he liked Flaming Star though.


It's nice to see, but I wasn't that surprised by it. Flaming Star is generally Elvis's best regarded film in cinema circles.

Scorsese likely based his appreciation for "Flaming Star" out of his respect for legendary director Don Siegel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Siegel

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:31 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
KingOfTheJungle wrote:
brian wrote:Surprisingly Scorsese said he liked Flaming Star though.


It's nice to see, but I wasn't that surprised by it. Flaming Star is generally Elvis's best regarded film in cinema circles.

Scorsese likely based his appreciation for "Flaming Star" out of his respect for legendary director Don Siegel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Siegel


Oh, Absolutely. Siegel was awesome. Have you seen his 1964 film The Killers? The role that John Cassavettes played was tailor made for Elvis. He could have owned that film were he still getting chances at serious dramatic material. It would have been a dream (and we would have gotten to see him face off against Ronald Reagan, who plays an evil gangster in the movie- that would have been extra sweet). Flaming Star is unfortunately the last time Elvis got to work with a great director, although Phil Karlson who helmed Kid Galahad was no slouch (but his career was in decline by the time Elvis got to work with him).

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:53 am

KingOfTheJungle wrote:Good post, Greg. Some nice insights as usual.

brian wrote:Surprisingly Scorsese said he liked Flaming Star though.


It's nice to see, but I wasn't that surprised by it. Flaming Star is generally Elvis's best regarded film in cinema circles. It was in the Rough Guide to cult movies list of the best Cult Westerns, and legendary film critic Andrew Sarris praised the film as Elvis's best around the time it originally came out in the early 60's. It has a lesser reputation in rock circles, largely due to the idea that 'Elvis died the day they put him in the army'.


When people talk about Elvis potential as an actor they almost always mention King Creole and often don't even mention Flaming Star.

This includes friends, family and even a lot of fans completely overlook Flaming Star.

That's why i was surprised that Scorsese mentioned it.

I know Flaming Star has gotten some praise from critics but it's still under appreciated in my opinion.

Re: John Lennon-August 16, 1977

Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:04 am

Brian, I totally agree Flaming Star is underrated. It's my favorite Elvis movie. Most of the people who gravitate toward King Creole are rock/Presley people. I have seen Flaming Star often mentioned as the best film Elvis made in film circles. Rock critics probably respond best to Elvis's rebel performance and the great rockers in Creole, while cinephiles respond more positively to Flaming Star's ambitious social message.