Elvis EdgeOfReality dream dog 1500

I was going to subscribe to your site, but if you mention drugs once …

IT STARTED SIMPLY: someone posted a com­ment on my Elvis Face­book page: “I was going to sub­scribe to your Elvis web blog, but then started to read some of your posts. OMG if you men­tion drugs once!” Then it got worse. Ac­tu­ally, once is about the rate at which I men­tion Elvis and drugs on this site, but let’s save that for later, as this whole ar­ticle ad­dresses the Face­book com­ment.

So, I have a Face­book page ti­tled Elvis – A Touch Of Gold. It’s linked to this website—each time I post some­thing here, it ap­pears there. Ac­tu­ally, a snippet of text with a photo and a link back to this site ap­pears on the Face­book page.

Re­sponse to the Face­book page has been less than luke­warm, but that changed on July 28, 2016. I wel­comed the con­fronta­tional tone of the com­ment, as that tone usu­ally means some en­gage­ment from the speaker. 1

 

“From dawn to dark­room, from doll to doll, Elvis clicks with the chicks as a playboy pho­tog­ra­pher who leads a double-life!”

 

So, at 9:23 that morning, I read the com­ment. It was rather con­de­scending. Since the ar­ticle that fol­lows can be read as a de­fen­sive put-down by me of the com­menter, I have done three things:

1.   I deleted the orig­inal com­ment from Face­book.

2.  I re­placed it with a link to this ar­ticle.

3.  I did not iden­tify the com­menter by her real name here or there. In fact, I will refer to her as Ms. Ward (which is not her real name) from this point on.

 

Elvis_drugs_LAL_poster2

In May 1968, Elvis fin­ished Live A Little, Love A Little, the last movie he would make prior to changing his life, his ca­reer, and his legacy. He did this when he stepped onto a stage in front of a live au­di­ence in Bur­bank, Cal­i­fornia, in June. There he con­fronted his demons and con­quered them, which was then broad­cast on the tele­vi­sion screens of America by NBC as the Singer Presents Elvis spe­cial in De­cember. (Note that all of the il­lus­tra­tions in this ar­ticle are from this movie.)

If you mention Elvis and drugs once!

Below find the orig­inal com­ment with a few mod­i­fi­ca­tions to keep it styl­is­ti­cally akin to this site. Each state­ment is num­bered. This will make it easier for the reader to follow my re­sponses later in the ar­ticle:

A. “I was going to sub­scribe to your web blog, but then started to read some of your posts. OMG if you men­tion drugs once—it just goes on and on! After nearly forty years since Elvis’s death, I’d have thought that sub­ject had just about been ex­hausted and sin­cere fans were sick of hearing about it.

B. I can only as­sume that you guys—and, yes it’s in­vari­ably guys who bang on about it, without any com­pas­sion or understanding!—still think that Elvis was the only person in the en­tire his­tory of the planet who, rightly or wrongly, ever used pre­scrip­tion drugs to ex­cess. And there were rea­sons for that!

 

“I was going to sub­scribe to your blog, but then started to read some of your posts. OMG if you men­tion drugs once—it just goes on and on!”

 

C. Ad­di­tion­ally, I see that you have found an­other stick to beat Elvis with: his hair­styles in the mid-’60s films. Not only did Elvis have his own look—and heaven forbid he should look like the mop-top Beatles!—but he re­sisted get­ting onto others’ band­wagons and was al­ways unique, whether some people liked it or not. He al­tered his style over the years in his own way and is loved for that.

DWhat a shame you are still stuck with the Wests, Fike, Goldman, Stanley brothers, et al, and refuse to see the magic of the man and his music.

E. His fol­lowing is still im­mense and I’m sorry that you feel it nec­es­sary to try to bring the man down—he has sur­vived these slurs for nearly forty years and will be for­ever!” 2

Ad­dressed in “My point-by-point re­sponses” below.

 

Elvis_drugs_Carey_pose1

One of the great joys of Live A Little, Love A Little was Elvis’s co-star, Michelle Carey. She was a breath of fresh air in an Elvis movie: an adult woman who ex­pressed an adult in­terest in men and sex. She also had a sense of wild­ness that Elvis rarely en­coun­tered in his leading ladies. These pub­licity photos for MGM are more bla­tantly sen­sual than any­thing we had come to ex­pect in an Elvis movie in the ’60s.

Have you read a thing on my site?

I was im­me­di­ately tickled that Ms. Ward was in­volved enough with my writing to be angry enough to re­spond with more than a few words! Alas, I was not pleased to dis­cover that she did not ap­pear to have read much of any­thing that I had written.

So within min­utes of re­ceiving the com­ment, at 9:28 I re­sponded: “What the hell are you talking about? Have you ac­tu­ally read a thing on my site? If I men­tion drugs half-a-dozen times in tens of thou­sands of words, I’d be sur­prised.”

That’s all I have to say about that! 3

 

Lots of people in Hol­ly­wood knew that Elvis was playing with pills to get through the his movie projects. How else did anyone slog through the triv­ial­ness and boredom of scripts like Kissin’ Cousins, Harum Scarum, and Double Trouble? But no one was pre­pared for the psy­che­delic­ness of Live A Little, Love A Little! In this scene, Elvis ap­pears to be under the in­flu­ence of ayahuasca: the spirit of the vine comes to him as a giant dog in­stead of the glowing ser­pent so fa­miliar to shamans of the Amazon River re­gions.

How many times had I used drugs?

After I posted those three sen­tences, I won­dered about two things: first, had I been too harsh with Ms. Ward? And second, just how many times had I used the word drug(s) in A Touch Of Gold. So I im­me­di­ately set out to:

•  count how many times I used drugs(s) in my ar­ti­cles, and
•  count how many words I had written in those ar­ti­cles!

The first was easy: I went to my Posts page (a table of con­tents) and typed “drug” and then “drugs” into my Search ap­pli­ca­tion.

For the second task, I down­loaded the WP Word Count plugin onto my site, ac­ti­vated it, and the plugin did its job.

I had my fig­ures.

I take these things seriously

The math was simple and one hour later (10:22), I posted a second re­sponse on Face­book:

Since I take these things se­ri­ously, I added a word-count plugin to my Elvis site. Here are the stats for Elvis – A Touch Of Gold:

Number of ar­ti­cles: 62

Number of words in ar­ti­cles: 148,590

Number of times the word “drug(s)” used: 10

Number of times the word “drug(s)” refers to Elvis using them: 5

Per­centage rate of use of the word “drug(s)”: 0.00006729927%

I have gone out of my way NOT to talk about Pres­ley’s drug use and I am rather pleased with a rate of less than one-half of one-half of one-half of one-half of one per­cent!

That said, drugs killed Elvis Presley! 4

Rock­ahula, baby!

 

Elvis_drugs_saucer

In an­other pos­sibly psy­che­delic se­quence, Elvis and Michelle share a bad trip, pos­sibly from a batch of brown acid pro­duced in Wood­stock. Hal­lu­ci­nating, Elvis sees a tiny flying saucer buzzing him in­doors, which he has to fight off. Michelle is obliv­ious to Pres­ley’s sit­u­a­tion as she is pre-occupied with lev­i­tating her­self to a higher plane. Like most Elvis fans in 1968, I didn’t get this at the time be­cause I was not ‘ex­pe­ri­enced’ my­self.

On the edge of reality

That was all I wrote be­cause I was fo­cused on Ms. Ward’s first point. So please take note that if I count only the number of times that I used the word drug in ref­er­ence to Pres­ley’s Olympian in­take, then my rate of usage drops pre­cip­i­tously to less than one-half
of one-half
of one-half
of one-half
of one-half
of one per­cent.

Or 0.000035%.

That’s all I have to say about that. 5

 

Elvis_drugs_alien

In yet an­other scene that can be in­ter­preted psy­che­del­i­cally, Elvis ap­pears to be in the early stages of trip­ping, with the anx­iety of the rush get­ting the better of him. Here he mis­takes the hotel cleaning woman for Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Queen Of Outer Space. He sees the wom­an’s vacuüm-cleaner as a giant alien crossbow, from which he must pro­tect Michelle!

My point-by-point re­sponses

Here are my con­sid­ered re­sponses to the five basic points made by Ms. Ward above. Each re­sponse is di­rected and ad­dressed to her. (And Ms. Ward, if you read this, I am re­sponding in a tone some­what sim­ilar to yours, if not quite as dis­mis­sive and con­de­scending. This tone can be changed at any time …)

A. This point has been ad­e­quately coun­tered above. I tend to ig­nore the pri­vate lives of cre­ative people (al­cohol, drugs, sex)—unless it man­i­fests it­self in their cre­ative process. Neg­a­tively or pos­i­tively.

Had Elvis started doing LSD in 1968 and recorded an album full of music like Edge Of Re­ality, I would be writing about his LSD use in a pos­i­tive light. Elvis Pres­ley’s drug con­sump­tion cer­tainly man­i­fested it­self in his cre­ative life, and not at all pos­i­tively.

De­spite it being nearly forty years since Elvis’s death, I think that many fans are still in de­nial about the amount and the tox­i­city of the drugs that he con­sumed.

B. With a few no­table ex­cep­tions, al­most all of the se­rious, mean­ingful writing about Elvis as an artist has been done by us “guys.” That in­cludes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Without us, the his­tory of Elvis Presley would be an end­less supply of books by an end­less string of women claiming to be the mothers of an end­less line of Elvis’s il­le­git­i­mate progeny. 6

 

Elvis_drugs_LAL_poster1 copy

“Watch the birdie and the fun fly with Elvis as a playboy pin-up pho­tog­ra­pher who doesn’t want to get pinned down!” 1968 was the year of the Tet Of­fen­sive, Nixon, riots in the ghettos, the po­lice riot in Chicago, Nixon, the as­sas­si­na­tions of MLK and RFK, Nixon. Elvis could not have ap­peared less rel­e­vant to the mem­bers of a gen­er­a­tion de­manding rel­e­vancy!

C. Lo and be­hold: this is the first bit of ev­i­dence that you did more than skim through an ar­ticle on my site! Alas, your com­ments don’t seem to in­di­cate that you ac­tu­ally read “the haircut pic­tures sleeves of the six­ties,” just made some neg­a­tive as­sump­tions about its con­tent. It’s ac­tu­ally a discog­raphy and price guide for Elvis col­lec­tors. 7

The term haircut sleeve is not of my coinage. I first heard it thirty-six years ago when I was selling Elvis records through the mail via ads in Gold­mine mag­a­zine.

As my ar­ticle stated, the ghastly “do” was done for one pho­to­shoot in 1966 and used on sev­eral pic­ture sleeves and pro­mo­tional items into 1967. Elvis didn’t ac­tu­ally ap­pear with that shellacked-and-banged bouf­fant in any of his movies.

 

Elvis_drugs_Less_PS

Elvis_drugs_Edge_PS

There were two sin­gles from the movie: A Little Less Con­ver­sa­tion was one of sev­eral in­ter­esting sin­gles in 1967-1968 that didn’t get the at­ten­tion it needed. Re­leased in Sep­tember, it peaked at #53 on Cash Box but only reaching #69 on Bill­board. The pseudo-psychedelic Edge Of Re­ality was rel­e­gated to the B-side of If I Can Dream, where it was un­heard by all ex­cept those who bought the single.

D. Pardon me here, ma’am, but I’m about to be crude: Are you f*cking kid­ding me? I have a web­site de­voted to Elvis Pres­ley’s music and his records! If you read the intro to A Touch Of Gold, you’ll find that I have been a fan for sixty years.

That’s an ac­tive fan and record buyer who paid for tickets for those gaw­dawful movies in the ’60s and bought the sound­track al­bums, too.

Un­like the ma­jority of johnny-come-lately Elvis fans who began col­lecting after he died.

Which prob­ably de­scribes every other Elvis fan you know.

E. First, stating that Elvis Presley did drugs is not a slur, it’s a state­ment of fact. Doncha think it’s time you looked things up?

Second, nowhere on my site—nowhere in 62 ar­ti­cles with 148,590 words—do I “bring the man down.”

 

Elvis EdgeOfReality dream dog 1500

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was taken from the dream se­quence for Edge Of Re­ality in the movie Live A Little, Love A Little. Be­cause it’s not a still photo, it’s slightly out of focus, es­pe­cially Michelle Carey. Here is the dream se­quence, cour­tesy of YouTube:

 

POSTSCRIPTUALLY, I have to re­peat my­self: first, Elvis Presley died at the tender age of 42 by taking mas­sive quan­ti­ties of pre­scrip­tion drugs over a pe­riod of at least six years. Nothing any­body can do about that ex­cept tell it like it is.

Second, I just in­creased the per­centage of times that I’ve used drug(s) in dis­cussing Elvis and drugs on this site.

Third, I have not heard back from Ms. Ward since posting the two re­sponses on Face­book above.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   Since she had posted her com­ment on the world’s most public plat­form, what the hell, right?

2   Entry D refers to body­guards Red and Sonny West, long-time friend and con­fi­dant Lamar Fike, and step-brothers Billy, David, and Ricky Stanley. All people who suf­fered with or through Elvis’s drug abuse, all of whom said their piece in public, all of whom are loathed by Elvis nuts. Ms. Ward’s in­cluding the de­spi­cable Al­bert Goldman was a low blow. (Ever wonder how many Elvis fans have ac­tu­ally read Gold­man’s book?)

3   Yes, I am quoting you-know-who.

4   It’s prob­ably more ac­cu­rate to say that Elvis killed him­self with the drugs he took, but that im­plies a slow sui­cide and no Elvis fan wants to even think about that.

5   Per­haps I should place a dis­claimer at the top of this web­site: CAUTION! Readers should be pre­pared to see the word ‘drug’ used once every 15,000 words.

6   See Kevin Costner as Elvis’s psy­cho­pathic love-child in 3,000 Miles To Grace­land.

7   Guess what? With few ex­cep­tions, every se­rious col­lector of Elvis records in the world is … get ready … a guy!!!

8   Most hip critics did NOT live through this era, so do NOT have the ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ence of ex­pe­ri­encing the changes of habit that these films en­tailed. Also, said critics also tend to dis­miss the music without ever re­ally lis­tening to it. A very in­ter­esting album could be as­sem­bled from the songs recorded for these six movies!

 

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‘Nuff said’!!.….……Well said, too!…TCB Clemen­tine

An­other .…‘Whole lotta’.….‘Sweet nuthin’s will do.…NU!.….…..but ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ .…..I was buyin’ the early Elvis in the ’50’s.…when NOT lis­tening to Elvis on the radio! TCB CM

Wow! NU.….….Pretty darn Cool, that 90% of Elvis fans started buying Elvis after 8/16/77. Proves the ‘Power of Elvis”. One big memory for me, is going into the ‘music booth’ to listen to records, be­fore buying them. In my case, a Sears Roe­buck & Co. store on South Grand Ave. in south St. Louis, Mo.……circa 1956 ’57 ’58! Good mem­o­ries. Also, brings to mind a mo­ment in the mid to ‘later ’60’s, at the same store, when I con­sid­ered a strange looking.….…( in my ‘square eyes’…awful looking) record LP cover for the Bea­tles called the ‘Butcher Block Cover’.…worth a bit now! I didn’t pur­chase it, not a big Bea­tles fan, but also, a prob­able, wrong de­ci­sion on my part. I think that one is worth a bit today! The story of my life!! Gotta’ put the ‘Blame on Elvis’! TCB CM

I replied ear­lier, but cannot find it.…perhaps, you will see it. TCB­Clemen­tine

No, You re­ceived the last one.…would enjoy hearing about your mem­o­ries of vis­iting Mem­phis at some fu­ture time! TCB! Clemen­tine

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