All posts with more than 3000 Hits, prior to 2008

Guralnick vs Hopkins

Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:55 pm

Which books do you think is better the two from Guralnick or the two from Hopkins?

I just finished Guralnick's and am re-reading Hopkins after 20yrs or so...

bpd

p.s. I do know that Peter used Jerry's notes. That makes the comparision even better.

Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:41 pm

You should have made it a poll. :D

I haven't read Hopkins books for several years so will have to revisit them. As for Guralnick, his two works on our man are IMO two of the best rock biography's ever written.

Sheryl Crow said after reading 'Careless Love' that she felt like she'd lived with Elvis for 6 months. Her comments were understandable. Great book!

Guralnick for me! 8)

Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:43 pm

For me, Peter's books are a little sterile - a series of facts, one after the other, and I never get much emotion from reading them.

Jerry's Final Years book, for me, is probably still the best overall account of the 70's, told with some compassion, but not hiding away from the negative stuff. Jerry seems to be on Elvis's side while telling the story.

Does that make sense?

Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:47 pm

I've read a lot of Guralnick, even outside of his Elvis work, but still have to tackle Careless Love, which I got recently, along with the original Jerry Hopkins "Elvis" opus, which is also on tap.

Guralnick's first volume did seem a bit dry and pedestrian at times, to the point of making me frustrated. Still, I also think some of that was the point, in creating an atmosphere of the mundane, everyday life of a boy on the verge of changing America and the world. And he also gets you into the slow, Southern rhythm of a poor Tupelo family and then Memphis, too.I'm going to re-read it eventually because it's that key of a text.

Here's a related Elvis "book" thread that I posted yesterday that I'd like more feedback on:


:lol:

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/v ... highlight=





:D
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:19 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:49 pm

DarrylMac wrote:For me, Peter's books are a little sterile - a series of facts, one after the other, and I never get much emotion from reading them.


That's part of what I like about them. Give me the facts and I'll make my own mind up. Starting with facts and rumours and putting your slant on them gives mixed results, depending on your opinion of the subject (does the Goldman 'effort' ring a bell?) :D

Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:52 pm

I like Hopkins' first book "Elvis" because , as far as I know, it was the first biographical story of Elvis. By the time Guralick came around, he had tons of data from which to add to the story.

Guralick is good.

I wish Alanna Nash would write a book about Elvis, but I don't know what's left to tell.

Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:19 pm

InMemphis wrote:I wish Alanna Nash would write a book about Elvis, but I don't know what's left to tell.

There's not much left to tell in the story itself but I think there's room if you focus on a specific period of Elvis' life. Ernst's book in the forthcoming box set will focus purely on 1954-55 and should be a great read.

Say if a biographer were to focus on the 4 1/2 years after Aloha, or 1968-72 where in relatively short periods of time there were big changes, they would be interesting reads. If you take his life story as a whole you inevitably have to pass on some interesting detail.

Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:31 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:Guralnick's first volume did seem a bit dry and pedestrian at times, to the point of making me frustrated. Still, I also think some of that was the point, in creating an atmosphere of the mundane, everyday life of a boy on the verge of changing America and the world. And he also gets you into the slow, Southern rhythm of a poor Tupelo family and then Memphis, too.I'm going to re-read it eventually because it's that key of a text.
:D


I didn't get the feeling that it was dry and was impressed with the speed the facts hit and the story was told and how little Peter tried to interject his opinion. I think there were only two or three times when he made his opinion known and at these points he declared as much. My impression is that he felt that he was to present the facts and let the reader have the opinions.

Although I have to admit that the book did dragggggggg up until Elvis started hanging around Sun.

I loved Peter's notes section, at times when I was reading his book I would get to a part where my mind would scream "How could you possibly know that!" that's when I'd flip to the back of the book and check his source. Sometimes I did wonder how accurate his sources were...pulling from magazine articles like "My Date With Elvis". I'm thinking sources like these are a little suspect; however, Peter is probably a better judge than me.

The second book was a little hard to read because everything started to fall apart. I couldn't help feeling that Elvis needed better friends...someone outside the bubble. I don't buy the story that no one could help him. My god near the end he was sold over and over again when he should have been told no drugs/no work...you would think that Parker would have been able to 'control' his boy like he always did...wasn't there interventions in 1976? Careless Love indeed.

I read the Hopkins book when I 15 years old and am re-reading it now...but my initial take is that Peter definitely hit the mark. I'm looking forward to reading his 2nd book The Final Years.

bpd

Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:37 pm

Delboy wrote:Ernst's book in the forthcoming box set will focus purely on 1954-55 and should be a great read.


Ernst's book? Box set? :oops: :oops: :oops:

I'm behind the times again...where can I get more information?

bpd

Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:44 pm

bpd wrote:
Delboy wrote:Ernst's book in the forthcoming box set will focus purely on 1954-55 and should be a great read.


Ernst's book? Box set? :oops: :oops: :oops:

I'm behind the times again...where can I get more information?

bpd



The rumored "Complete Sun Sessions" Box set, probably on FTD.


There's been little confirmation of it since last year. So stay tuned.


And get yourself "Elvis At Sun" if you didn't yet! :lol:

Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:52 pm

Gregory Nolan Jr. wrote:
bpd wrote:
Delboy wrote:Ernst's book in the forthcoming box set will focus purely on 1954-55 and should be a great read.


Ernst's book? Box set? :oops: :oops: :oops:

I'm behind the times again...where can I get more information?

bpd



The rumored "Complete Sun Sessions" Box set, probably on FTD.


There's been little confirmation of it since last year. So stay tuned.


And get yourself "Elvis At Sun" if you didn't yet! :lol:


That's right...how soon I forgot. :roll: :roll:

8) Elvis At Sun is excelent!!!

Thu Jul 14, 2005 10:45 pm

I'm not always sure a Sun Box set is the best thing for some of our finances!
Image

Image

Image

Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:47 am

In some ways it's unfair to compare the two as they wrote in two completely different contexts. When Hopkins wrote his book, he had a lot fresher memories to access. Whereas Guralnick had the benefit of 20 years of additional research by hundreds of upon hundreds of writers. In any assessment though Hopkins deserves eternal credit for the ground he broke in Elvis based research. It was a wide open field when he wrote his first book and every author from Guralnick on down owes him a debt of gratitude for the map he drew.

However, I much prefer Guralnick's two volume set and not only for the benefit of the additional research. In many ways, I find the Hopkins books too close to a traditional show biz biography. He's more concerned with documenting Elvis' salary than with defining him as a person (although he does try in the latter regard.) Guralnick more than any other writer brings Elvis to life as a person. Some have commented that the books are slow. I don't find that to be the case. Guralnick's point is the context and it is the context that brings Elvis to life and I don't mean just in the sense of recreating Elvis' place and time which he does brilliantly. I mean also in the sense of following Elvis down various side paths like his brief affair with June Juanico.

In the context of a life of 42 years, a few months with an anonymous girl from his Biloxi would be written off by most authors as inconsequential in the greater scheme of things. You definitely understand them skipping it or glossing it over in a sentence. In Guralnick's book, it's huge because it gives you a look at what Elvis was really like. I remember the first time reading the book and laughing at Elvis' imitation of Parker for June's benefit. It really drove home Elvis' humanity for me and as Guralnick intended "rescued him from the dreary bondage of myth". With that crucial point established, Elvis' musical accomplishments become that much more remarkable because you somewhat realize where they came from.

The context is also important because it establishes Elvis' importance. The subtext of both Guralnick books is that this was a man of importance, this was a great man. Guralnick's documentation of the way the African American community reacted towards Elvis is huge in this regard. You really understand the way Elvis and his contemporaries were changing the cultural landscape. The bits and pieces he's gathered from the black press at the time, establish that Presley was a man that created a sensation not only his community but in the country as a whole.

I read A. Scott Berg's biography of Lindbergh and he does much of the same thing contributing more than 100 pages on public reaction to Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing. This kind of stuff is essential.

Later in "Careless Love" you could make a case that the book drags as Guralnick follows Elvis through listless concert after listless concert in a state of depression. Yet it makes a point and establishes a sense of tragedy. This is a great man and this should have never have been allowed to happen.

That all said, I also prefer Guralnick because he focuses on Elvis the recording artist in a way that Hopkins never does. I don't think Hopkins singles out any session between 1960 and 1968. Again though that was not his focus. But that extra context which captures the triumph of the "How Great Thou Art" sessions is what makes Guralnick's book such a triumph.

I do have some peeves with the book mostly in the fact that Guralnick gives Parker a pass. That is in keeping with his generous no villains approach to the story. However, it does lead to him painting a more negative picture of Elvis than need be. I understand that Elvis does bear ultimate responsibility for his fate but these other folks like Parker and the MM played a part.

Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:10 am

Wow.......this is a really difficult choice. I give the edge to Hopkins (though just barely). There is an air of pathos that Hopkins evokes that Guralnick does not. Hopkins paints his portrait with an eye toward the tragic end (in his latter work), and uses his words to draw you into that mood. He tells the story within the context of Elvis' moods and states of mind, and he is able to draw effectively from that perspective. His works read more like character-driven novels.

Guralnick (laudably, perhaps) lets the facts tell the story, but his work isn't evocative for me. He doesn't create an ambience with his prose. He relies upon the reader's knowledge of events to provide ultimate context, which is a viable course when you consider how well the story is already known. But he does not drawn me INTO the story in the way Hopkins does.

It's the classic literary friction between these two......the storyteller versus the historian. I always lean toward a story told vividly rather than a story told dispassionately. .......

Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:30 am

I've read both (Elvis - Hopkins; Last Train...- Guralnick)

and I must say that Guralnick makes those giant several-page clustered super-mega-paragraphs that Scatter would be proud of :) (no'fence, Scatter)

seriously in parts, perhaps due to caffeine during typing, he fails to take a breath, hit enter/space and segment into smaller portions and chapters

Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:03 am

ALRIGHT GG..........If you will take the time to peruse my posts of late (including the one right above you!!!), you will find a marked improvement.

Some people are impossible to please. I humbly admit my failure, take GG's advice, and STILL get pummelled. :lol:

Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:40 am

GG was referring to Guralnick when he wrote:seriously in parts, perhaps due to caffeine during typing, he fails to take a breath, hit enter/space and segment into smaller portions and chapters


I meant Guralnick there, not Scatter. :roll:

for example, see pages 118 119

Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:51 am

Graceland Gardener wrote:

and I must say that Guralnick makes those giant several-page clustered super-mega-paragraphs that Scatter would be proud of :) (no'fence, Scatter)



Don't try the revisionist history with me GG........and no edting, now!!! :wink:

Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:29 am

I have to go with Guralnick's. He really did a masterful job of putting the reader in the moment, especially the first volume. The second one didn't do the same thing for me, but it was still a very worthy read.

Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:49 am

I will say this, as both hopkins and Guralnick made trips to Memphis, to meet people to interview, walk its streets, hear its nightlife, sit in her diners, feel its ambience...

Guralnick, imo, thoroughly enjoyed his time there and brought alot of its imagery, both in real-time and retro-flashback ways,
to life, and breathing, and colorful, whether desperate or joyful, or clinically factoidish, and
illustrating well and recounting the inner-circle of the artist, and or news timeline and articles and rumors of the attentive fandom that weren't in Elvis' inner circle. Y'know, the public. Public perception of Elvis and the Elvis Thing Happening

I think that was expressed in his LTTM writing.

I think he relished his sojourn into Tennessee-Mississippi Elvis Land
more than Hopkins expressed.

I'm glad Hopkins did his work when he did.
1969-70. Some eyewitnesses were still with us and memories still lucid and he got their accounts.


- Get a chance, read Stanley Booth's "Hound Dog To A Manor Born"

that's a great essay/report/short story on Elvis and his ranch and horses and pick-up trucks and sideburns freshly grown back, the wiley black bang of hair over the eye, at the height of the 1968 newlywed era

and that too is an interested someone there-going-there-being-there
in Memphis

Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:34 am

I started reading Last Train in the store and could not put it down. I probably read for 2 hours while waiting on my wife in the mall. When they finally dimmed the lights and started bringing the iron caged door down, I paid for it and took it home.

Even though Jerry Hopkins' book was interesting to me, Last Train gets my vote.

Fri Jul 15, 2005 11:56 am

Jerry Hopkins' book "Elvis" was original. Lots of interviews with people associated with Elvis, including real school mates, were done.
Guralnick simply copied bits and pieces from hundreds of books.

The good thing is that in the (1971, 1972) 12-hour Elvis Presley story you can actually hear all interviews that Jerry Hopkins has in his books.

Re: Guralnick vs Hopkins

Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:04 pm

bpd wrote:Which books do you think is better the two from Guralnick or the two from Hopkins?

In each case, the first volume is superior. However, Peter is by far a much better writer, and interviewed people in Elvis' life -- including several women of importance -- that had not really spoken about him before. "Last Train" deserved every accolade it received upon publication.

Luuk wrote:Guralnick simply copied bits and pieces from hundreds of books.

This is simply untrue, and negates any comments you may have about either author. You should stick to your strong suit as a "colonel" Parker apologist.

DJC

Re: Guralnick vs Hopkins

Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:29 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Luuk wrote:Guralnick simply copied bits and pieces from hundreds of books.

This is simply untrue, and negates any comments you may have about either author. You should stick to your strong suit as a "colonel" Parker apologist.

DJC


Have you seen the list of books Guralnick quoted from at the end of the book?????
And he did not list all. According to Bill Burk there are stories copied from Bill Burk's books and articles without Bill Burk being credited.

Jerry Hopkins' book was all original and the first and only Elvis biographywhere people can actually hear the interviews and check themselves if what is written is correct.

Re: Guralnick vs Hopkins

Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:34 pm

Luuk wrote:Jerry Hopkins' book was all original and the first and only Elvis biography where people can actually hear the interviews and check themselves if what is written is correct.


That's a fact.