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Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:29 am

Hello,
here below is is an excerpt taken from Dylan's own memoirs: "Chronicles".

He talks about growing up listening to the radio and then remembers the greatness of Roy Orbison's "Running Scared" released in 1961. By then Elvis to him was long gone and ancient history. See the quote below.
Do someone know if ever Dylan discussed in depth somewhere its take on Elvis music? It seems Elvis "died" after Sun for him. I have read bits here and there, through Dylan's interview in Rolling Stone mag or some quotes reported in Marcus's "Mystery train" about the 68 Elvis but nothing extensive. Does someone know if he ever talked about the subject of Elvis work as a whole?

Here is the excerpt (page 34)

"I was always fishing for something on the radio. Just like trains and bells, it was part of the soundtrack of my life. I moved the dial up and down and Roy Orbison's voice came blasting out of the small speakers. His new song, 'Running Scared,' exploded into the room. Orbison transcended all the genres - folk, country, rock and roll or just about anything. His stuff mixed all the styles and some that hadn't even been invented yet. He could sound mean and nasty on one line and then sing in a falsetto voice like Frankie Valli in the next. With Roy, you didn't know if you were listening to mariachi or opera. He kept you on your toes. With him, it was all about fat and blood. He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop and he meant business. He was now singing his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal. Typically, he'd start out in some low, barely audible range, stay there a while and then astonishingly slip into histrionics. His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you muttering to yourself something like, 'Man, I don't believe it.' His songs had songs within songs. They shifted from major to minor key without any logic. Orbison was deadly serious - no pollywog and no fledgling juvenile. There wasn't anything else on the radio like him. I'd listen and wait for another song, but next to Roy the playlist was strictly dullsville... gutless and flabby. It came at you like you didn't have a brain... Elvis Presley. Nobody listened to him.
It had been years since he had done his hip thing and taken songs to other planets.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:56 am

isn't that quote talking about the mid 60s?

If Bob Dylan didn't like Elvis at all anymore by 1961 and preferred Roy Orbison that's his right.

I've always found it strange that all these musicians that loved the 50s Elvis just seem to completely dismiss the early 60s era.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:08 am

Dylan and many of the folk artists of the early 60s that would influence the later music to come out in the 60s stood for something. They were using their music as a political tool or a search for higher meaning. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum by the mid 60s. What exactly did Elvis stand for? Wat exactly was he influencing at this point? I can't fault people like Dylan for feeling this way during the 60s. The seismic shift in the musical landscape from Elvis is Back to the sound of 1964 or 65 is staggering.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:38 am

TkoTzer wrote:Dylan and many of the folk artists of the early 60s that would influence the later music to come out in the 60s stood for something. They were using their music as a political tool or a search for higher meaning. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum by the mid 60s. What exactly did Elvis stand for? Wat exactly was he influencing at this point? I can't fault people like Dylan for feeling this way during the 60s. The seismic shift in the musical landscape from Elvis is Back to the sound of 1964 or 65 is staggering.


i don't see the point of that in the early 60s.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:50 am

If Bob felt Elvis lost his way during the '60s, it was a justifiable position. That said, Bob still remains a huge Elvis Presley fan. Rock on, Bob.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:56 am

He has said many, many things about Elvis, at different times, often contradictory. Elvis is on his mind a LOT . . . but he has sometimes distanced himself, and sometimes spoken of profound connection.

He said that on the event of Elvis's death, "I had a breakdown" and that he didn't talk to anyone for a week. The lady who was his kids' art teacher (and . . . well) corroborates this, and said that she told him "I never really liked his music." Bob would not talk to her for days, she says. "He was really in mourning," she said. One was in Shelton, and the other was, I believe, in Heylin's bio. Two identical accounts, rare for Bob!

In one interview (quoted in "Mystery Train" by Marcus, in the endnotes), Bob had said, absurdly that played piano on some of Elvis's "early records." He says . . . things, sometimes.

He has called Elvis "the deity supreme" of rock and roll, as we know it "in today's form" is I think how he put it. But "Deity Supreme" is an exact quote. He told Jim Dickinson that he toured Elvis spots in Memphis, including Humes. He told Dickinson that he mounted the stage where Elvis won the high school talent show, looked down, and "I found a lucky penny."

Bob has said a lot of things. (I'd like to put them all together!) And he has covered "That's All Right Mama" (under his own name as writer), "Can't Help Falling In Love," "A Fool Such As I," and done "Heartbreak Hotel," live on an August 16 in 2009. Maybe others.

There are a number of other things that were said, sung, done . . . "Love and Theft" is a very "Memphis-themed" album, and Elvis is mentioned directly ("raise a toast to The King" in an appropriate context) and indirectly, along with related matters. Oh, there's much more. He basically said that Elvis changed his whole life, and that's why he "had a breakdown." On the Rolling Thunder tour, he kept a diary, in which he made comparisons of his live performances to Elvis's in '69. "Too much power," he reckoned, not enough "sensitivity."

And there is a, uh, a little ditty recorded in 1970, about which I will say nothing. Or the Doc will do this :smt021 to me. So, I just won't say anything. :smt004

rjm
Last edited by rjm on Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:00 am

We do need to remember that Dylan is heading into old age now, and people change their minds on things as they get older as well. Fifteen years ago I'd have been scratching my head as to why someone would criticise Aloha, for example, and now I'm the first one to do so. Our tastes and opinions change, and that's not a bad thing.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:15 am

poormadpeter wrote:We do need to remember that Dylan is heading into old age now, and people change their minds on things as they get older as well. Fifteen years ago I'd have been scratching my head as to why someone would criticise Aloha, for example, and now I'm the first one to do so. Our tastes and opinions change, and that's not a bad thing.


Yes, yes, but we never compare Bob Dylan to . . . other people. He changes his mind like other people change their socks. And always has.

He very recently did an interview where he told Mikal Gilmore that Gilmore was asking questions of a person who was no longer alive. And he had an actual, real "other person" in mind about whom he was talking, and that guy's name was "Bobby Zimmerman," an actual person who was not Bob Dylan, who died in a motorcycle crash in the early 1960s.

He also has said that he lies to the press, and thinks it appropriate and right to do so. He owes the truth to himself and God, and no one else, least of all "the press."

:D

rjm (He loves Elvis; trust me on this one.)

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:45 am

brian wrote: i don't see the point of that in the early 60s.


See the point of what? The changes going on in society are a huge reason that 1960s, movie making Elvis dint resonate with the artists of the day anymore...

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:29 am

TkoTzer wrote:
brian wrote: i don't see the point of that in the early 60s.


See the point of what? The changes going on in society are a huge reason that 1960s, movie making Elvis dint resonate with the artists of the day anymore...


It's very simple according to Yvous post Bob Dylan thought Elvis was already a relic in the early 60s and preferred Roy Oribson.

You say Elvis lost his way in the mid to late 60s but by the early 60s he hadn't.

If Bob Dylan thought Elvis lost his way in the mid 60s it shouldn't have any bearing on the early 60s.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:05 am

brian wrote:
TkoTzer wrote:
brian wrote: i don't see the point of that in the early 60s.


See the point of what? The changes going on in society are a huge reason that 1960s, movie making Elvis dint resonate with the artists of the day anymore...


It's very simple according to Yvous post Bob Dylan thought Elvis was already a relic in the early 60s and preferred Roy Oribson.

You say Elvis lost his way in the mid to late 60s but by the early 60s he hadn't.

If Bob Dylan thought Elvis lost his way in the mid 60s it shouldn't have any bearing on the early 60s.


A tempest in a non-existent teapot. Bob and his girlfriend at the time, the late Suze Rotolo, used to listen to "Elvis Presley records" when the older, "serious" folks were out. Like her mother and sister. (One is referred to "Ballad In Plain D" which Dylan deeply regrets. Anyway, they both enjoyed his music in the early sixties, when they needed relief from all the "serious" protest/social consciousness stuff. "I wouldn't want it to be all that type of song; there IS the element of entertainment to consider." (Quote - Elvis, 1970, Houston, from memory: the last part is verbatim, for sure.)

Dylan later considered the element of entertainment big time! And a member of the crowd shouted "Judas!" Which still bugs him.

There is a direct line from "That's All Right (Mama)" to "Like A Rolling Stone" (not to mention "It's All Right, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." And that line continues right into "Born To Run," actually. Dylan knows where the music came from, and his feet are firmly planted in that soil. It was when Elvis's feet started to slip that he really got annoyed. There are a number of songs that address general betrayal - not chick songs, but general betrayal, and self-betrayal, that really dig deep into how he felt. And perhaps those feelings played into his extreme reaction to Elvis's death. 50s' kids, Dylan's age, had "scratched (Elvis's) name in sand." (Kids write rock and roll stars' names in wet cement: it's the rule.) And Elvis just "thought it was another place to stand." Elvis did betray many of his early fans, the boys, I would think, much more than the girls. He had changed their lives, saved some lives, and then went off to sing about having "fun" in Acapulco. This had to be hard to take:

Elvis sang

"Hey now come on, you old sleepy head
See the sky turning red and you're still in bed
It's fun in Acapulco

Acapulco, look here comes the sun
Acapulco, it's a day for fun

I can't wait till I meet your sweet senoritas
Kiss everyone
This is no time for siesta, this is time for fun"


Just imagine being a musician whose life was changed by Elvis: "Hearing Elvis Presley's voice for the first time was like busting out of jail." And listening to that voice singing the above . . .

After Elvis's death, Bob couldn't talk about him in any way for years. (I framed the poster from, I think the Budokan album, where Dylan is in a pink suit with rhinestones and stuff. It reminded me of the "Raised On Rock" cover - almost a strange homage. I'm not sure when the photo was taken: before, or after.)

rjm
P.S. -- It should be recalled that August 1977 was a very difficult time for Bob: the divorce papers that were in the press (and then the judge issued a gag order on him, so he couldn't respond, and he was still reeling from Phil Ochs' suicide). So, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. (Not saying Elvis was "a straw" to him, but you see the factors piling up.) It would not be long before "the room moved," and he found Jesus, and stopped singing any secular music for some time. Elvis sang a lot of non-secular music, you may recall. Earlier, Elvis's Comeback after the longer draught came around the same time that Bob got back on the stage at the Isle of Wright festival. And I read this as a kid in a Brittanica "Book of The Year" for '69 that "both Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley" had returned to live performance. In the same sentence!

Bob should sing the last word(s) - he couldn't help falling in love:

phpBB [video]

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:47 am

Again if you read the quote from the OP it looks like Dylan stopped listening to Elvis by 1961 not 1963.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:13 am

If he stopped listening in 1961 why did he do Can't Help Falling In Love?

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:19 am

I get your point rjm and I agree with you. May be what started this betrayal feeling was "GI Blues".Do you think that prevented people from listening to "Elvis is back"?
I know some felt the "hero" or "Deity supreme" was gone by then a bit like when Dylan went "electric".
The main difference is when you evolve musically speaking and change for the better and take your artistry to a higher level: Dylan did, so did The Beatles.
Elvis was stuck in Hollywood for the worse. The genious has lost his way but knowing his greatness I cannot think that the greats like Dylan who revered him so much in the beginning stopped listened to him after and they were still scrutinizing his work to see if they could find some hidden gems as to revive the flame that once "fueled" their lives and wanted to get a feel of this magic and being experienced again.
I feel some acted may be like closet fans as I can't comprehend how can someone lyke Dylan can dismiss the high artistry of "Elvis is back": I may understand very well that nobody listenened to Elvis after1962.

Interrestingly a few years ago Robert Plant being interviewed by Suzy Quatro on her radio show, in which a whole segment was devoted to Elvis, stated that he has now a new appreciation for some Elvis songs he rejected for so long because of that betrayal feeling he sensed back in those days. Well he grew old and became wiser accepting the fact that Elvis may be as "listenable" and "valuable" artistically speaking in other genre than "pure" rock and roll and that "its now or never" stands on its own.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:26 pm

Some miss the point here.

"Running Scared" was a Billboard US #1 Pop hit in June 1961. Although the excerpt from Chronicles: Volume One (Simon & Schuster, 2004) is truncated, the point Dylan makes is clear. Orbison's single was something new, both exciting and terrifying, a song a listener needed to sit up and pay attention to. When Dylan speaks of "nobody" listening to Elvis, what he means is Presley's recent output is not as compelling, Elvis is not willing to take his audience to an unfamiliar place in the manner that Roy does with "Running Scared."

So, Elvis was not "long gone and ancient history." But, in comparison to Roy's #1 Monument 45, single cuts like "Lonely Man," "Wooden Heart" or "I Gotta Know" sounded more than a little empty.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:52 pm

To answer the first question, G I Blues had to be confusing. I think EIB got lost a bit because of the hit film and soundtrack.

That was just the beginning. But Bob, for one, listened closely. His choice of covers shows that. Oh, and that "bonus song" on Spinout. "Tomorrow Is A Long Time." "The recording I treasure most." "It ws on "Kismet." He did it with just guitar." Bob knew "Kismet"!!! But got mixed up. I bet he went to the movies! (Pure speculation.)

Plant is younger than Dylan, who is pure "firdt genration." A lot of baggage there to be objective and even remember what happened in which year. Orbison is easy to love in a totally uncomplicated way. With Elvis, there is heavy emotional baggage. Elvis was also a frightening mirror for other artists who were old enough to realize it.

rjm

Sent from my Kindle Paperwhite.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:14 pm

rjm wrote:Bob has said a lot of things. (I'd like to put them all together!) And he has covered "That's All Right Mama" (under his own name as writer), "Can't Help Falling In Love," "A Fool Such As I," and done "Heartbreak Hotel," live on an August 16 in 2009. Maybe others.


Just wanted to add a few others to your list, rjm... Bob has also recorded versions of "Money Honey" and "Anyway You Want Me" and back in the 80's performed "Always On My Mind" live a few times... And don't forget his Christmas album! Yes, Bob loves Elvis, no doubt about it!

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:50 pm

Isn't the man proud Elvis recorded "Don't think twice"? I do think Bob mentioned that once..
And didn't he attend one of the MSG shows? (not sure about that)

I enjoyed Jerry Scheff's stories of being on the road with Bob.
Another story but a great read!

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:39 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Some miss the point here.

"Running Scared" was a Billboard US #1 Pop hit in June 1961. Although the excerpt from Chronicles: Volume One (Simon & Schuster, 2004) is truncated, the point Dylan makes is clear. Orbison's single was something new, both exciting and terrifying, a song a listener needed to sit up and pay attention to. When Dylan speaks of "nobody" listening to Elvis, what he means is Presley's recent output is not as compelling, Elvis is not willing to take his audience to an unfamiliar place in the manner that Roy does with "Running Scared."

So, Elvis was not "long gone and ancient history." But, in comparison to Roy's #1 Monument 45, single cuts like "Lonely Man," "Wooden Heart" or "I Gotta Know" sounded more than a little empty.


And things got worse soon after. I listened to Something for Everybody and Pot Luck recently, having not heard them for a long time. The singing, playing, production and technical aspects are nigh-on perfect - they sound gorgeous. But my reaction to the two albums is more "that's nice" than sitting up and taking notice. Just For Ol' Times Sake is a pretty tune and beautifully sung, but I almost want to ask "what's the point?" I feel that, during these studio sessions, Elvis was concentrating more on sounding pretty than he was in getting to the emotional heart of the song and communicating with the listener. There are exceptions, of course, such as There's Always Me or That's Someone You Never Forget.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:24 am

Robert wrote:Isn't the man proud Elvis recorded "Don't think twice"? I do think Bob mentioned that once..
And didn't he attend one of the MSG shows? (not sure about that)!

If Bob is proud, he's never said so in public. There is no evidence Bob saw any of the MSG shows.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:55 am

Again, there is no evidence Bob Dylan saw any of the MSG shows. Quoting someone's unsourced blog or any unsourced website only serves to underscore the paucity of thought behind the post itself.

Knowledgeable fans here may also note other erroneous names in some of those site claims, such as John Lennon, who is on record in several interviews as stating he never saw Elvis in concert.

Bob may have attended one of the Presley Las Vegas performances in January-February 1970, but the best evidence of that remains his June 1970 recording of "Went to See the Gypsy," which he released on New Morning.

Thank you.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:02 am

stan from tintane wrote:Maybe 'someone' should let epe know, I wouldn't say Elvis.com is an unsourced web site, it's the official site!

Yes, that official site (!) has been proven to be a font of reliable information on Elvis Presley, far more than some of the input here by erudite members of this forum.

Thank you.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:53 am

TkoTzer wrote:Dylan and many of the folk artists of the early 60s that would influence the later music to come out in the 60s stood for something. They were using their music as a political tool or a search for higher meaning. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum by the mid 60s. What exactly did Elvis stand for? Wat exactly was he influencing at this point? I can't fault people like Dylan for feeling this way during the 60s. The seismic shift in the musical landscape from Elvis is Back to the sound of 1964 or 65 is staggering.


That's a quite comfortable position, on the one hand, judging what others did for the civil rights movement without first finding out, from those who really suffered through that era, about what THEY felt Presley meant for the advancement of civil rights. Too bad "Soul on Ice"" only came out in 1969, but what Presley did, that made such an impression on the African American who wrote it, Eldridge Cleaver, preceeded by about 7 years anything Dylan ever did for the movement (LOL).

Conversely, how easy (LOL) it must have been for him to dismiss what Presley did in the early 60's, musically, when he'd totally been out of circulation for two years, the only musician to serve his country at the zenith of his career. Dylan could, right now, immmerse himself and spend 20 hours researching on the net, but he's never going to find any other celebrity, in the music, sports, motion pictures or any field under the sun who entered the Army at the ABSOLUTE height of his career. And two years in the US Army takes a toll on, and changes any career, drastically, so how could he just dismiss Presley' EARLY 60'S recordings without making a simple mention of this fact. Orbison? When was his career cut in half by the US Army?
Last edited by Jaime1234 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:04 am

Jaime1234 wrote:
TkoTzer wrote:Dylan and many of the folk artists of the early 60s that would influence the later music to come out in the 60s stood for something. They were using their music as a political tool or a search for higher meaning. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum by the mid 60s. What exactly did Elvis stand for? Wat exactly was he influencing at this point? I can't fault people like Dylan for feeling this way during the 60s. The seismic shift in the musical landscape from Elvis is Back to the sound of 1964 or 65 is staggering.


That's a quite comfortable position, on the one hand, judging what others did for the civil rights movement without first finding out, from those who really suffered through that era, about what THEY | felt Presley meant for the advancement of civil rights. Too bad "Soul on Ice"" only came out in 1969, but what Presley did, that made such an impression on the person who wrote it, preceeded by about 7 years anything Dylan ever did (LOL). Conversely, how easy it was for him to dismiss what Presley did in the early 60's, when he'd totally been out of circulation for two years, the only musician to serve his country at the zenith of his career. Dylan could, right now, immmerse himself and spend 20 hours researching on the net, but he's never going to find any other celebrity, in the music, sports, motion pictures or any field who entered the Army at the ABSOLUTE height of his career. And two years in the US Army takes a toll on, and changes any career drastically, so how could he just dismiss Presley' EARLY 60'S recordings without making a simple mention of this fact. Orbison? When was his career cut in half?


Other celebrities entered the service at the zenith of their careers. During WWII, it was a long list. And Ted Williams had already served in WWII, and was drafted to Korea. This was the worst case I can think of. He did his duty, big time, and was recalled at 33, to do it again. (This can happen due to the Reserves. Elvis also had to sign up for the Reserves, and though he was exempted from training due to his "traveling job," could be called up in "an emergency." Which means he missed Vietnam by mere months! Don't think they wouldn't have done it.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Williams#Military_service

Image

rjm

Re: Elvis quoted in Bob Dylan's Chronicles Vol.1

Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:21 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Again, there is no evidence Bob Dylan saw any of the MSG shows. Quoting someone's unsourced blog or any unsourced website only serves to underscore the paucity of thought behind the post itself.

Knowledgeable fans here may also note other erroneous names in some of those site claims, such as John Lennon, who is on record in several interviews as stating he never saw Elvis in concert.

Bob may have attended one of the Presley Las Vegas performances in January-February 1970, but the best evidence of that remains his June 1970 recording of "Went to See the Gypsy," which he released on New Morning.

Thank you.


It's in Heylin's latest update on this period. He really tracked things down, so that IS the one. Heylin even found out WHY he was in the area: had to do with Dylan's own family, and someone he was visiting, an uncle. Anyway, so that was it. The song of which I dare not speak its name, was recorded almost immediately afterward. (And then redone . . . took a while to get what he wanted, and later Kooper took a bit too much credit for the arrangement.)

Interesting, the diary notes mentioned by Paul Williams, appear to suggest that Dylan confused early 1970 in his mind with 1969. But that would not be unusual. As almost everyone did in 1970, I mean the newspaper reviewers, he noted the force of the show, the singing - most reviewers noted the extreme loudness at that time. Even for a rock concert. (Or perhaps not everyone was familiar with rock music in that context. On the other hand, some reviewers saw him in large venues, and still found it very loud. Wish we had more from that year!)

In any event, in investigating the death-reaction, Heylin says "even though he only (saw, met, went-bump-in-the-night) him once," he had this tumultuous reaction, which seemed odd to him. Dylan explained it, but I don't think it can be rationally explained. The art teacher thought he was really P.O.'d at her because of what she said, but Dylan just recalled "going over my whole life."

:smt023

rjm (I like, and read about Dylan . . . a little bit :smt002 You ever see that Facebook page on "John Smith"? Wow. You have to know the secret way to get there! It's quite byzantine.)

P.S. -- @Hav-A-Tampa, your avatar/location combo says IT ALL! ;)