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Peter Guralnick s books on American R B, Soul, Country, Blues and Rock and Roll are all heartfelt, deeply researched, and written nearly entirely in the third person, and that last bit separates him from the self aggrandizing that mars the writing of so many other music writers covering the same ground If he has a fault it is his reverence for his subjects Accordingly, this first volume of his two volume biography of Elvis Presley will set you aglow with the excitement, innocence and exuberanc Peter Guralnick s books on American RB, Soul, Country, Blues and Rock and Roll are all heartfelt, deeply researched, and written nearly entirely in the third person, and that last bit separates him from the self aggrandizing that mars the writing of so many other music writers covering the same ground If he has a fault it is his reverence for his subjects Accordingly, this first volume of his two volume biography of Elvis Presley will set you aglow with the excitement, innocence and exuberance of the Hillbilly Cat s early days, ending with his induction into the Army in 1958 Guralnick is the anti Albert Goldman no armchair psychoanalysis of the budding sexual preferences or the Oedipal domestic arrangements of his subject will be found, but instead a sympathetic treatment that pulls you into the unlikely story of Elvis success Presley nursed a gift that was bigger than he was In the second volume Careless Love The Unmaking of Elvis Presley , the abuse of that gift destroys Presley, but in Last Train To Memphis there is the delicacy of watching a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis mixed with the rude exhilaration of a musical revolution A sharply rendered and painstakingly detailed account of Elvis early days Guralnick s narrative prose is simple, even crude, but his material is richly precise in some places, we get an almost day by day account of Elvis life and career, with sources split neatly between firsthand interviews and the author s own historical knowledge, which is impressive Guralnick is, it should be noted, a far better historian than he is a writer, and there are whole blocks of prose that ramble indistinctly A sharply rendered and painstakingly detailed account of Elvis early days Guralnick s narrative prose is simple, even crude, but his material is richly precise in some places, we get an almost day by day account of Elvis life and career, with sources split neatly between firsthand interviews and the author s own historical knowledge, which is impressive Guralnick is, it should be noted, a far better historian than he is a writer, and there are whole blocks of prose that ramble indistinctly and contribute little to the story Still, the story is what counts, and when it is allowed to upstage the weak writing, this book is worth a read even if you aren t a fan of Elvis One of the most exhilarating stories ever told Guralnick accomplishes something astonishing he rescues Elvis from myth, in the process reaffirms his legend This volume chronicles Elvis s early life his crackling charisma, musical inventiveness and genuine iconoclasm The backdrop is America in transformation postwar restlessness, racial integration and much needed rebellion In the end, we see why America needed Elvis, and why, sadly, his tragic fall was so inevitable As good a boo One of the most exhilarating stories ever told Guralnick accomplishes something astonishing he rescues Elvis from myth, in the process reaffirms his legend This volume chronicles Elvis s early life his crackling charisma, musical inventiveness and genuine iconoclasm The backdrop is America in transformation postwar restlessness, racial integration and much needed rebellion In the end, we see why America needed Elvis, and why, sadly, his tragic fall was so inevitable As good a book as I ve ever read Another book I picked up after last fall s trips to visit my friends Heather and Clay in the wonderful city of Memphis Great book, couldn t put it down Reviewers say it s the best book on Elvis around Haven t read much about Elvis, but I can t imagine it getting much better than this A very sympathetic account, it keeps an eye on what is important about Elvis his astonishing talents and not the sordid stuff although the sordid stuff is mentioned To my delight, Elvis s Army buddy Rex M Another book I picked up after last fall s trips to visit my friends Heather and Clay in the wonderful city of Memphis Great book, couldn t put it down Reviewers say it s the best book on Elvis around Haven t read much about Elvis, but I can t imagine it getting much better than this A very sympathetic account, it keeps an eye on what is important about Elvis his astonishing talents and not the sordid stuff although the sordid stuff is mentioned To my delight, Elvis s Army buddy Rex Mansfield is mentioned several times and quoted towards the end of the book I met Rex in the course of my career in utility equipment sales Rex was a rep for American equipment in Germany, and visited us several times at the factory He told us Elvis stories, which pretty much thrilled me Lots of girls over in Germany when you hung out with Elvis Lots of girls Pretty cool to say I know a guy who knew Elvis Which is about as cool as I m ever going to get the Elvis book left me speechless and amazed Dreaming about hillbilly forevers Sentimental on a Sun Recording bender that nearly drove the neighbors to nail my windows shut to save them from the pain of the thousandth play of Its all Alright Momma at full volume Have you ever seen Jesus Camp It was kinda like that but with Elvis instead of Jesus and I only cried when Gladiolus died near the end To say Elvis is iconic from Tokyo to Mobile and cult like for many that hide in Dixie caves i the Elvis book left me speechless and amazed Dreaming about hillbilly forevers Sentimental on a Sun Recording bender that nearly drove the neighbors to nail my windows shut to save them from the pain of the thousandth play of Its all Alright Momma at full volume Have you ever seen Jesus Camp It was kinda like that but with Elvis instead of Jesus and I only cried when Gladiolus died near the end To say Elvis is iconic from Tokyo to Mobile and cult like for many that hide in Dixie caves is an understatement A figure so discussed, loved, hated, mocked and glorified is anything but human But this book makes Elvis a human A man with a special talent embarked on a special journey That s the best compliment i can give a biography, especially when dealing with an epic figure Elvis is a person to me now and not a poster my mom had when i was growing up Read it for sure This enormous biography takes Elvis from his birth in 1935, through his gradual rise to stardom and on to the death of his beloved mother The author meticulously lists every live concert date, every record and every film made, but that is not all the book is about As well as explaining how and why Elvis became the huge star he became, it explains who he was The gentle boy who loved his mother and who never seemed to be anything other than caring if a little fickle with his many girlfriends, This enormous biography takes Elvis from his birth in 1935, through his gradual rise to stardom and on to the death of his beloved mother The author meticulously lists every live concert date, every record and every film made, but that is not all the book is about As well as explaining how and why Elvis became the huge star he became, it explains who he was The gentle boy who loved his mother and who never seemed to be anything other than caring if a little fickle with his many girlfriends, who was spiritual and clean living warning his mother against the horrors of drink when she had a beer late at night, who seemed so lonely he ended up with a local entourage to protect and keep him company, was also, undeniably, a very ambitious man Also a man who seemed to prefer to leave any difficulty to the Colonel and slip out from the requirements of personal responsibility at times not acknowedging the bitterness of Scotty Moore and Bill Black for example, until they resigned in anger at how they were treated financially This really is THE Elvis biography and continues with Careless Love , which I am really looking forward to reading I was three quarters of the way through this book before I realized that it is the first of two gigantic volumes, and I was enjoying it so much that it made me excited because I wanted a lotThis volume covers Elvis youth up until his deployment in Germany with the Army.I have wanted to read this book since visiting Graceland expecting to make fun of everything and winding up feeling sympathetic and melancholy His gravesite, where he is buried next to his twin brother Jesse who was still I was three quarters of the way through this book before I realized that it is the first of two gigantic volumes, and I was enjoying it so much that it made me excited because I wanted a lotThis volume covers Elvis youth up until his deployment in Germany with the Army.I have wanted to read this book since visiting Graceland expecting to make fun of everything and winding up feeling sympathetic and melancholy His gravesite, where he is buried next to his twin brother Jesse who was stillborn, stuck with me They said that Elvis always felt like he had to live the lives of two people and you can see that in this book His workrate when he starts his recording career is stunning And everything is driven by his ex carnie manager who calls himself The Colonel he is not a colonel I couldn t believe he was a real person It is fascinating how Elvis grew up in an environment perfectly suited for the type of music he would get famous playing Memphis was a musical hotbed, his adolescence was spent around a lot of black people, BB King had a local radio show, Sun Records in Memphis was obsessed with black music, andAnd while the debate over whether he knowingly stole music from black performers will continue forever, I loved how Elvis loved all kinds of music, even opera He spoke openly of the black musicians he admired and there were a lot of them and even scolded people scandalized by his dancing by saying that black people had been performing like that since before he could remember He was a musical enthusiast The level of celebrity that he dealt with is incredible, even by modern standards Girls he goes on two dates with are interviewed by the national press about marriage, fans set up camp outside of his house and he signs autographs for them every afternoon, fans set up roadside stands with signs that say Stop Here Elvis when they find out the routes he takes and he does stop , and photographers are there snapping pictures as he cries in his father s arms at his house after his mother passes away Despite all that, he is self assured, mature, and honest with the press One moment that cracked me up is how Elvis talks openly about how ridiculous the contracts are that he signs he gets songwriting credits for songs he doesn t write because The Colonel is such a hardass.Now this volume is only Elvis ascent to greatness, but the author does a great job of noting the cracks in the foundation without harping on them His extremely close relationship with his mother who brought the sunshine into the home foreshadows the trouble he will find once she passes away The people that cared about him before he was famous start to melt away and even his time in the Army is a series of photo ops The author s note at the beginning of the book says that he wanted to write it after hearing a story about Elvis as a teenager fidgeting as he waited for his cousin to get off of work A few years later, he d be having his clothes torn off literally by a riot of fans in Florida And as the book develops, the people around him are increasingly sponges, and the real tragedy is that he knows it but doesn t know how to stop it I would recommend everyone who is passionate about music read this book, but it is a huge commitment Beck was interviewed on All Songs Considered recently and they chatted about how good it is, and Beck basically said that it should be required reading for people interested in the music industry I ve never been led wrong by listening to Beck, so I ll just echo his sentiments here.Great book If you are a fan of Elvis, this is your book This is the first of a two part series on the King of Rock and Roll Guralnick goes into painstaking detail on Elvis life from the time he was a young boy getting his first guitar through the death of his beloved mother and shipping off to Germany as PFC Elvis Presley It is clear that Elvis was his own person He was at times naive and humble while at other times he was rambunctious and rebellious Everything he did, he did for his family His love If you are a fan of Elvis, this is your book This is the first of a two part series on the King of Rock and Roll Guralnick goes into painstaking detail on Elvis life from the time he was a young boy getting his first guitar through the death of his beloved mother and shipping off to Germany as PFC Elvis Presley It is clear that Elvis was his own person He was at times naive and humble while at other times he was rambunctious and rebellious Everything he did, he did for his family His love for his parents, especially his mother was both sweet and heartbreaking He was inconsolable when she passed away.This book truly is a deep dive into Presley s life Where I am a fan of his I saw him in concert just a couple months before he died , I don t know that I needed details to the level that Guralnick noted For superfans, this is definitely a book worth reading It was entertaining and interesting and I will read the second book in the series This book does not cover his life with Pricilla or eventual decline in health The Kindle version that I read included audio clips of some of the interviews that Guralnick conducted with some key people in Elvis life It is worth the purchase if you are a Kindle user Meticulously documented and filled with quotations from interviews as well as contemporary news pieces and articles, this is the first volume of an authoritative biography of Elvis from his childhood to 1958 when he is forced to suspend his career as he s drafted into the U.S army Guralnik leaves no detail undocumented so that for a general reader like me this can be too granular but, then, I d rather skip details of precisely which backing musicians were present at each recording session, s Meticulously documented and filled with quotations from interviews as well as contemporary news pieces and articles, this is the first volume of an authoritative biography of Elvis from his childhood to 1958 when he is forced to suspend his career as he s drafted into the U.S army Guralnik leaves no detail undocumented so that for a general reader like me this can be too granular but, then, I d rather skip details of precisely which backing musicians were present at each recording session, say, than not have it included This is as interesting on the development of US teen culture and the burgeoning post war music business as it is on the man himself, and the amounts of money being generated from the Elvis franchise are just jaw dropping.And Elvis himself A complicated mix of guilessness and sweet innocence, with somethingambitious and single minded, entangled with a charisma and natural blazing talent underpinned by a genuine spirituality The image of him ringing his parents every night from hysterical tours and Hollywood film sets, of bringing home Natalie Wood to stay with his mum and dad, of buying them Graceland to compensate for the single room and shared housing he grew up in is a testament to real feeling Guralnik is a bit reticent about Elvis relationships with women which is fair enough in avoiding a kind of intrusive prurience, but slightly frustrating at the same time Patterned as a classic rise and fall, the great American Dream and its undoing, this is the triumphal part of the story, with volume 2 charting the darker underbelly of the second two decades of Elvis life which I ll be reading next It s worth keeping YouTube open while reading this for footage and videos of the early songs and recording sessions which form a natural soundtrack to this book Gripping `Free Kindle ✙ Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley ⇬ From the moment that he first shook up the world in the mid s, Elvis Presley has been one of the most vivid and enduring myths of American culture 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 worldThis volume tracks the first twenty four 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 , he was drafted into the army and his mother died shortly thereafter The book 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 book 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 truePeter Guralnick has given us a previously unseen world, a rich panoply of people and events that illuminate an achievement, a place, and a time as never revealed before Written with grace, humor, and affection, Last Train to Memphis has been hailed as the definitive biography of Elvis Presley It is the first to set aside the myths and focus on Elvis humanity in a way that has yet to be duplicated